The best and the worst thing that you can go through as a biz owner is raising your prices. It's awesome, because it means that your business is growing, but it always has the potential to be super awkward and uncomfortable when you need to have a “the price is going up” conversation with your repeat clients. Here are some super simple ways for you to handle a price increase with your clients in a way that will make them love you more than ever.
Methods to Deal
"THE FINE PRINT"
There are probably a few places on your website or in your print materials where you could insert some fine print outlining and allowing for any future price increases. This will give you the opportunity, as a business owner, to be able to change your prices at the drop of a hat (with a simple acknowledgement of your fine print). The downside of this course of action is that most clients do not read the fine print. At some point, you're probably still going to have to actually speak to clients about the increase. However, the bonus is being able to fall back on what the "fine print" says.
“As outlined in the 2016 Pricing Guide, the current price of X will be increasing at the beginning of next month.”
Having it worded like the example above takes a little pressure off you, and lets you take emotions out of the decision. Instead, it becomes an anticipated business move.
"THE LAST MINUTE OPPORTUNITY"
Portraying your soon-to-be price increase almost as a last minute "sale" can help you move some items out the door or book up the last few slots you still have open. If set up properly, your clients will hopefully feel as though they are getting a great deal (and equally, will be aware of your new prices).
“Snag your favorite images as a canvas before prices rise! Get them while they’re only $X!”
Regardless of whether you're raising the prices on canvases or tote bags, this method always helps to get a large amount of orders placed. Clients appreciate the heads up and the reminder to snag their favorite items. The exact same thing can be done for those of you who offer services. Run a similar “promotion” on your 1:1 coaching, your social media consults or Pinterest Board clean ups to fill spots up quickly.
"THE HONOR SYSTEM"
One question that frequently pops up is how to handle people who have shown interest in or booked you when you were at a certain price, but maybe weren't scheduled to work with you until after you've raised your prices. Personally, when we were taking clients and they had actually booked (like money on the table), we honored every single price that was set at that time — even if they didn't know what all the prices were. So, for instance, we've had past clients pay our session retainer fee at the end of one year even though their session wasn’t until the spring of next year. If, at that time, prices for our packages, services or anything else had gone up, they still got the old prices. It's what we call the honor system, and it's one of the ways in which we showed our clients love.
However, if a not-yet-booked client expressed interest in us and we talked briefly about prices but they didn’t actually schedule anything, we would charge the newly-increased price. If they returned to us some months later, once prices had increased, they started the entire process over again.
“As we’ve recently restructured our packages and offerings, we’d like to go over all of this with you as if you were a brand new client.”
Wording it like the example above forces any awkwardness out the window and makes it very clear where you stand. Plus, they’re most likely getting a totally reworked or better system with you so it’s a win-win situation.
We know a bunch of businesses that have an annual rise in their prices, usually in January of every year. They are very open about this to their clients, and may even reference it throughout the year. It reassures clients that prices will remain the same throughout the calendar year, but it also makes them very aware of future business decisions. This also helps to set your business as "premium", since your clients are aware of the yearly price increase.
“Every January we reassess our offerings, at which time there will most likely be a price increase. Book your services now to lock into the current rate.”
This example also helps to create a sense of urgency, which pushes potential fence-sitters to go ahead and book with you.
No matter which of these methods you choose, always try to be open as possible with your clients about prices and fees. There’s no reason to apologize or be sneaky about how much you are worth. The more open you are, the easier these conversations are to have — and trust us, it gets so much easier over time!