Childbirth Businesses: Bargain Basements or Value Menus?

As Doulas or Childbirth Educators, you may have felt challenged in creating a sustainable income. Questions I see and hear often are:

  • How do you make money as a doula?
  • What should I charge for doula services or childbirth classes?
  • How do I make my doula business profitable?
creating doula service packages

What to Charge

Among the doula community especially, there is a lot of talk about charging a living wage, creating a sustainable income and charging what you're worth. There is so much value in this for sure! Many of us in the childbirth professional community are learning that there is much more to the privilege of being a doula than the warm fuzzies we get from helping other women birth and parent well.

What many doula trainings have lacked in the past is legitimate business training, which highlights ideas about expenses, legitimate marketing plans and focusing on target markets. There's still a problem with this, though: charge all you want for one service, but there will still be some who cannot afford, or choose not to spend their money on your well priced service. So here's my question: what do you offer to THOSE people?

Discounts and Bargains

dis·count - noun

a deduction from the usual cost of something, typically given for prompt or advance payment or to a special category of buyers.

In an attempt to attract more customers or avoid turning money away, many doulas and childbirth educators fall into the trap of offering discounts and bargains. The problem with this is that it detracts from the VALUE of your products and services. Especially in a service-based industry, this can devalue the work and worth of the human offering the service! In the same way that big box stores have put many small shops out of business, those who offer free and reduced price services are undercutting business owners who value themselves enough to charge a decent rate.

Payment vs. Investment

Also, in my experience, bargain hunters typically are not wholly invested in the relationship required of doula work. These are the clients who may not take seriously their own involvement in planning for their birth, keeping you up-to-date about their health and well-being during pregnancy, and may even neglect to call you when they are in labor! Now, this isn't the case with everyone, but it's worth stating that offering discounts on highly valuable services is a huge risk from a business perspective.

Are you leaving income on the table?

So someone can't afford your services? Good riddance - find someone else!  Right? Here's my question: are you leaving money on the table and shooting yourself in the foot by charging more? No, you're not shooting yourself in the foot. You SHOULD be charging more, but you may be able to raise your prices for your more valuable services and ALSO retain more clients and customers by offering more affordable options.

Something I learned in my years as an Independent Practice Doula was that I had limited choices increasing my income and not all of them were viable. I had three options:

  • Increase my prices
  • Increase the amount of clients I took on
  • Increase the types of services I offered and/or sell products as add-ons

I could increase my prices, but I could only take on so many clients. And in increasing my prices, I could have been walking away from people who wanted my services but chose not to spend the kind of money I knew I deserved. So what did I have for them? Could I still provide a valuable service to them at a price they could afford that was also fair to me and the family I support? I began to look more closely at the way I was providing prenatal education to my doula clients and decided to explore other childbirth preparation models that could fill a need for my target market and also help me grow my business.

Do you have a Value Menu?

We often think of value menus as cheap food options, but I challenge you to think of it differently. Some questions to consider:

  • If you are a Doula, what else do you offer besides doula services?
  • If you are a Childbirth Educator, what else do you offer besides classes?
  • Do you have lower priced a la carte services, up-sells or add-ons for clients to choose to increase the value of each package or service you sell?
  • Do offer packages or are you a one hit wonder?

Creating Value in your Childbirth Business

If you are a Doula or Childbirth Educator looking to increase the value of the services you offer and create a paycheck you're proud of, take a look at what Your Birth Experience offers. There is more than one way to skin a cat, so to speak and YBE offers an incredible way to add value to what you do both by bringing an excellent service to your clients and also providing you with a plan to create a sustainable income!

Written by Missy David, the Honeybee Mama