Your Doula Business: A Fair Exchange of Value and Money
by: Cynthya Dzialo
When I first began working as a birth doula, I felt obligated to keep my fees in line with what other newly certified doulas were charging in my area. This meant charging little more than one or two hundred dollars per birth and slowly increasing this amount over the span of a couple years work. Due to my lack of understanding and counseling of peers, I started my new career by contracting with clients who paid very little for my work. This was a HUGE mistake for several reasons!
First, I was unable to differentiate myself as a service provider by matching the rates of other birth doulas. When charging the same price for equal features, I appeared as if I was like any other new doula in my area offering the same value or benefit when contracted. Keep in mind that some people prefer to pay a higher price because they believe it affords them greater value and more personal attention.
Second, I was devaluing myself and the profession as a whole by charging less than $300 for labor support. This told potential clients and interested parties that doula support was worth very little overall, which is not an effective way to create a demand for our work or build a good rapport with the medical community.
Later on, I learned that when my clients were pregnant again and wanted me as their doula, they weren't willing to pay my higher rate. The first 15+ clients who paid around $300 for birth support balked at my new fee of $600 after a few years of additional experience (100+ birthdays). These clients didn't value my gained knowledge but only the previously paid low price. Even offering these repeat clients a discount of $100 still didn't secure me as their doula every time!
In the early years, to cover monthly expenses, I had to take many clients at once to pay the bills. This negatively affected me and my clients and I was unable to truly be present with them due to a lack of sleep, stress, and too much work to do. I was easily distracted, overwhelmed, and often sick. Since then, I have raised my rates significantly and contract with less clients per month, allowing me to provide them with excellent customer service. I've developed happy clients that rave about my services and we all feel better about the equal exchange of money and value.
If you appreciate this post, please share it with your doula friends. I invite all of you to take part in a new membership program for doulas and other childbirth professionals called The Doula Academy, which will open for enrollment in 2014. To be included in the launch, please sign up for the newsletter here: http://thehappiestdoula.com/calling-all-doulas/. Until then, follow me for more business advice and doula tips @happiestdoula or at http://www.pinterest.com/happiestdoula. See you soon!
Be well and happy,
The Happiest Doula
Cynthya Dzialo is a birth doula in Atlanta, GA and operates a childbirth organization called The Happiest Doulas. Her team of labor doulas give clients a wide variety of birth support ranging from "natural" birth to planned cesareans and nearly everything in between, including using hypnosis for childbirth. Recently, Cynthya partnered with the staff at Northside Hospital in Atlanta, GA to create a workshop for the Labor and Delivery nurses that helps them further support both unmedicated and medicated childbirth.