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Home » Run Your Business

How to Increase Your Hourly Rate By $115,000 an hour

Caramelised Tarte Tatin & Granny Smith parfait

Framing changes everything

If you ate at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant at Royal Hospital Road, in London, you’d expect to pay around £200 (US$300) for a meal for two including wine and service.  Dining at the 3 Michelin Star restaurant, you’d probably have the finest meal you’d ever had.

If on the other hand Gordon Ramsay happened to invite you round for dinner at his house and he cooked you the very same Loch Fynne smoked salmon terrine with Cornish crab and horseradish, followed by Lemonade parfait with honey, bergamot and sheep’s milk yogurt sorbet and washed down by a glass or two of Krug grande cuvée, as you could have got in the restaurant, then you probably be equally impressed with the quality of the ingredients and the undoubted skill of the world famous chef.

Until at the end of the evening when you were putting on your coat and thanking him for such a wonderful meal he presented you with a bill for £200.

No doubt you’d probably be a little shocked.

If not a little offended, but what’s the difference?

The answer lies not in the food or the location, but the “frame.”

With one “frame” you’d happily pay £200. With the other “frame” you’d probably feel a bit outraged, yet you’d have the same food cooked by the chef himself.

A frame is an underlying structure and/or beliefs that shape and form other peoples perceptions about you or your business.

A change in frame allows the following to happen:

Joshua Bell

It was young man dressed in jeans, a long sleeved t-shirt and a baseball cap to emerge from the Metro at the L’enfant Plaza station in Washington DC  and positioned himself next to a bare wall in an indoor arcade at the top of the escalators.

From a small case he removed a violin and after placing the open case at his feet he threw a few dollars in as “seed money” and began to play.

For the next 43 minutes the violinist played six classical pieces and 1,097 people passed by.

When he finished playing and silence took over no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

At the end of the 43 minutes he counted his money – $32.17 (equivalent to about $45 an hour).

Here’s a short (2.32 minutes) video of the performance:

Just under $33 for 43 minutes work  doesn’t seem too bad until you consider that just a few nights before, the  performer, none other than Joshua Bell, one of the World’s greatest classical musicians, brought in over $115,000 per hour.

And that violin he was playing? A 300 year old Stradivarius worth $3.5m.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell played incognito in the Washington DC Metro station and was organised by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The experiment revealed the power of the frame.

With a frame, Joshua Bell playing at the Boston Symphony Hall is worth over $100,000 an hour. Without a frame and he’s struggling to make $45 an hour.

Same world class musician, same $3.5m violin, same music and a similar audience size.

A change in frame will change your income

Most people believe what they have is what they’ve got and that they can’t change what others think. But I disagree.  I believe that most successful business owners are masters at using a “frame”.

Take for example:

Pimlico Plumbers

If you’ve ever visited London chances are you will be familiar with the shiny blue vans and uniformed staff of Pimlico Plumbers . They have built a hugely successful business changing peoples perception of plumbers from an unreliable, overcharging trades person, to a reliable and professional outfit,  which is often used as a bell weather for the plumbing industry by media organisations.

Pimlico Plumbers have changed the “frame” by careful branding their operation, ensuring all their vans are clean, all the staff wear uniforms (including the office staff) and giving an exceptionally high level of service.

If you look at the components of the “frame” then you’ll soon discover that none of the components are proprietary. All plumbers have control over the same elements of the “frame” and all plumbers use these elements (unknowingly) to build a frame for themselves.

However, only a few have spent a lot of time, effort and money to ensure that each element of the “frame” compliments the next, and helps control customers perceptions of your business.

8 Steps to Building a Better “Frame”

1. Belief

The first step is to believe that you have the access to the same “frame” elements as your competitors.  Once you recognise this you will be able to make big changes in your business’ “frame”.

2. Try Different Perspectives

Don’t just accept the current “frame” without some serious thought. Try different perspectives (how do you see your business? how do you customers see your business? how do your competitors see your business?)

3. Invert Your View

Take the opposite view – for example instead of a customer spending $1,000 with you, imagine the customer complaining about a purchase and demanding a $1,000 back from you. How does the experience compare with spending the $1,000 with you? Why might customers be unhappy with their purchase?

4. Vision your “frame”

Once you recognise you can change your “frame” and you have an idea of how others see your business, develop a vision of what you want the “frame” for your business to look like.

5. Sketch out your “frame”

For each element of your “frame” describe what that elements looks like and feels like to the customer.

6. Fill in the gaps

For each element in your sketched out “frame” prepare a blueprint of all the activities you need to do so that the customer experience is exactly as you have visioned it.

7. Implement your “frame”

Once you have filled in the gaps in your “frame” it’s time to start building the “frame” an element at a time and completing all the activities you need to do to achieve the experience your have envisioned.

8. Review your “frame”

Regularly review your “frame” and each of it’s individual elements. Your review neeeds to enure that each of the individual elements is working together just as you intended and also having the desired affect on how others see you and your business.


Changing your “frame” could be as simple as changing your website or the way you look when you go to client meetings.  If you want people to perceive that you’re the go to person in your industry then your website needs to look like it reflects you being the go to person in your field. Not some cheap templated website bought off a “mate” for a couple of beers.

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