• Jacqueline Horani

Pricing in a Pandemic:

How to Stay Afloat While Helping the Greater Good:

Wishing there was a magic pill to ensure your business survives the coming winter of pandemic closures and even more economic uncertainty? If there was one step you could take, to not only increase your chances of survival but also to empower and broaden your customer base… would you do it? Read on to see how you can help your firm and your customers thrive through the Pandemic and beyond.

By Jacqueline Horani, Esq. on November 6, 2020

The risk we are all facing in the midst of COVID-19 is a serious one. It’s impacted so many of us, from our own personal health, the health of our friends and family, and even witnessing the struggles faced by strangers. We’ve all heard the statistics. Over 1 million people worldwide have died, over 150,000 small businesses in the USA have permanently closed due to COVID-19, millions of people are out of work, and nearly a third of those who are employed are making less than they were last year. It’s been over 7 months and we still have hotspots of outbreaks across the United States. At the rate we are going as a country, we will likely continue to live in the new normal far into 2021. It’s time for us to recognize that our world has shifted in a dramatic way, one that will not simply ‘go back to normal’ once we have the virus under control.

We are truly living in the midst of a paradigm shift, one that is fundamentally altering the structure of our society and causing us, as individuals, to question the meaning of our lives. As millions of employees shifted to working at home and as schools navigate virtual transitions, we have had to reconsider what our expectations of life, work, and family are.

We’ve shifted our collective and individual priorities across the globe, as we’ve seen people choose to take time to slow down, exercise more, start a garden, spend more time in nature, and connect with loved ones and friends. As we face an uncertain future, we are all reflecting on our priorities and our life’s purpose. Along this path we are altering the way we work, the way we shop, and the way we live. To this extent, 2020 has dramatically accelerated the demand for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as consumers expect you to care, not just for your bottom line, but for humanity.

But how does one care for all of humanity when you’re struggling to even care for yourself?

Here are my top tips for worthwhile changes that will help you grow through the pandemic and beyond:

  1. Understand your purpose. If you’re running a business creating widgets without any meaning or connective purpose, if you work each day to work another day, stop now to halt the bleeding. Cut your losses and take the time to discover a new path.

  2. Integrate your purpose. If your company has a purpose, one beyond trading tokens, and you are struggling to financially survive, find your connection to the greater world and be transparent about why you get up every day. Then find all the ways your policies and organizational structure aren’t aligned with that purpose and fix them to reflect your purpose.

  3. Restructure your pricing model. If you are trying to meet the needs of your staff and your customers, but can’t afford further reductions, try implementing a sliding scale fee system. With a sliding scale, you get to define your maximum and minimums meaning you never have to charge less than the minimum you’re willing to sell for. You can then leverage customers who can afford to pay full price to help subsidize those who can only afford less right now.

When you use a sliding scale model:

  • You’ll have transparency, trust, and authenticity baked into your pricing model at no expense to yourself,

  • You’ll be able to reach and support a client base who would otherwise pass you by, &

  • You’ll be able to support your community without having to convert to a non-profit or give up your desire or ability to obtain full value for your work.

All of these changes will help you expand, but in my experience the game changer truly lies in an inclusive pricing model. What a sliding scale recognizes that other models never consider, is that while some are hit hard by this Pandemic, not everyone has been. In catering to a larger range of budgets, you’re able to work with clients who need you as much as you need them. Having a sliding fee system in place allows you to both retain the value of your services while also making it less likely to lose a potential sale due to pricing. By implementing a sliding scale, rather than discounting or reducing your rates across the board, you are able to meet people where they are. Full fee clients are able to help support access to your services for those who can’t afford them, and your business will have more flexibility to ebb and flow sustainably regardless of the changing economic conditions. Sliding scales help us address economic inequalities and give grace to those who may need an extra hand to get started.

In a world that has highlighted just how significantly our individual actions impact others, showing that you are willing to meet your customers where they are is like finding a gold mine*

*(a sustainable gold mine that’s open to all without harmful consequences for our environment, of course.).

Even more, adding sliding scales to your pricing model can dramatically increase the revenue and efficiency your firm experiences:

Raise your hand if you’ve ever given away your services, started off asking way under-market, or struggled to make a profit! *I’m pretty sure most of you, like me, are mentally raising your hands* So many of us want to help people who are struggling, who need support, that we often end up giving away hours of work because we’re not comfortable asking for payment, or payment in full. Sliding scales can help you feel empowered stating a full value starting rate knowing you have the safety net of offering reduced fees for those who really need it. By eliminating the need for calculating each situation on a case-by-case basis and wondering if you’re being consistent or covering your bills, sliding scales just make sense.

In my experience though, there is nothing more rewarding than working to meaningfully create a better society.

Sliding scales are one easy step we can implement to get us there. The clients who are helped are people who need our support. Choosing to create an inclusive pricing model could be the difference between a thriving business and an empty storefront, between a family together and deportation, between financial stability and bankruptcy by fraud. Think of the impact you could have serving those struggling in your community today. Whereas pro-bono cases help the individual, a sliding scale model can help waves of people across the country access the services they need.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be diving into the logistics of how you can add a sliding scale system to any business in any industry.

I’m going to show you that you do not have to choose between philanthropy and profit, that you can choose to support others without breaking the bank, and that you can do it all in service of the greater good. If you’re interested in learning more, or want to connect check out or follow me on LinkedIn.

In the meantime, I want to hear your thoughts.

Have you ever considered an alternative pricing model? How are you supporting others right now? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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