Dennis is a successful shoemaker and has a growing number of clients. He is working together with two guys but recently he realized that he needs to employ another one in order to cope with the flow of customers. In addition, the prices for supplies went up, so did his rent — once he decided to move his shop closer to the city center. Eventually, price hikes became inevitable for Dennis. But how is he going to do that without losing his regular customers?..
This is a very common situation in business: everyone has to raise prices from time to time. But in order not disappoint your customers, just answer these three questions — "Why are you raising prices?", "When are you raising prices?" and "How are you raising prices?".
For various reasons:
- You need more profits for business development.
- You want to improve the quality of your product/service.
- You wish to gain the upper hand on your competitors: both your price and quality are higher.
- You would like to exclude those who buy only for low price.
- You need to cover expenses and still be better off: for instance, you are experiencing fluctuations in currency rates, market volatility, increase in rent or cost price, you are opening a new branch or a more expensive production line.
Raising prices doesn't necessarily invoke declaration of war, although in most cases, it does, unfortunately, entail huge losses of customers and a blot on company reputation.
But you can always choose the peaceful way and persuade your clients this measure is inevitable and is of crucial importance.
when and how
do it at the right time
Just like for launching a new product line, the right timing is of crucial importance for raising prices. You can do it at the very peak of seasonal demand, or right before holidays or important public events. For instance, you can raise the price for short term rentals during FIFA World Cup. However, this step must not look like trespassing and your desperate wish to take advantage of the opportunity — otherwise, your customers' trust and loyalty will be compromised.
give the right to choose
There is no reason you shouldn't keep both the alternatives in your product line: the basic model for a lower price, and the pricier one, with advanced features — just like airlines do it with their tickets offering business class and economy packages to customer's choice.
When a customer percepts the product value as equal to the product price and considers it fair — the raise of price causes no indignation. But if initially your customers were not sure your prices were reasonable, further increase will only drive them to your competitors. Your clients' loyalty is the best guarantee they will not overreact to changes in price. If you feel lack of customer loyalty, then it might be reasonable to improve and refine the product itself, making it more convenient or adding advanced features and functions. Or, if there is nothing left to add, just try updating the design and changing the packaging. Repackaging, for instance, is one of the favorite tricks of manufacturers, who often try to justify their pricing policy by offering a new fancy package or an "eco" one, such as glass jars for yoghurt instead of plastic cups.
if your price hike is really justified by new product features, the customers are likely to take it easy. For example, if you improved the quality of service, got it certified, and feel ready to compete on the international market — this is a good excuse for going up in price.
Avoid premature price hikes, however: for instance, when you are only planning to spend more on production but are already raising the price. Your customers will hardly be satisfied to hear you are trying to get more profits in order to improve product quality — they would rather think you want to swindle them.
If, for some reason, you cannot raise the price for your main product, try to increase the average sale value by upsales (such as disposable razor blades or car service and maintenance) and related products sold together with the main product (for instance, shoes+shoe polish, or household appliances+sanitation and cleaning materials).
Always inform your clients about upcoming price hikes not later than 1-2 months ahead, and never make it a fait accompli. If you decided to raise prices — then do take your time to explain the reasons to your customers in emails, calls, or advertising. — this will only add to their loyalty, while giving them enough time to realize and accept the changes without freaking out or going to seek for a cheaper alternative. In addition, you will get a brilliant chance to attract new customers by offering them a "last chance deal" for the old price.
increase prices gradually
A series of small successive 5-10% price boosts every 3-6 months is much wiser than an overnight strike of 25-50%. This method is particularly convenient, when product cost and other expenses are steadily growing. Besides, this strategy proves to be less stressful for customers and prevents your company from operating at a loss.
Use APRO CRM
to inform your customers about price changes by email and SMS campaigns
and IP telephony calls
. Call and send emails right from client profiles. Browse client interaction history prior to sending a price hike alert, in order to make it look like a custom and lucrative offer. All these small tricks will allow you to find the right persuasion strategy and build a strong argument.
- It is difficult to predict your client's reaction to price hikes. Their feedback and behavior will depend on the way you convey the changes to them.
- Never play the quiet game with your customers. Instead, seek compromise and give conclusive explanations of reasons.
- You can start raising prices from related products instead of hitting straight the main one.
- Explain to your clients why they should choose to pay you more rather than purchase alternative solutions from your competitors. Tell them about the high quality, professional service, and other unique advantages you are offering.
- Notify your clients beforehand. Never make a price hike a fait accompli.