As a business owner, you likely don’t look forward to having to increase your prices. After all, increasing prices can lead to frustrated customers and logistical headaches internally — at least it can if you don’t handle things correctly.
The reality is that price increases are sometimes a necessary part of doing business and can’t be avoided. The way you plan for and carry out price increases, though, can have a dramatic effect on how the process is perceived, both internally and by your customer base. So where do you start?
Define Your Goals
When you start considering a price increase, it’s important to create a solid plan. Before you start thinking about your goals numerically — e.g. the dollars and cents of your price increase — examine your motivations in terms of what you’re aiming to achieve.
In many cases, a price increase may simply be a necessary step in order to keep pace as things change around you. Rising costs impact every facet of your business, from the wages you pay your employees, to the materials you use to provide service, to the fuel you rely on to get to jobs in the first place.
You may also be faced with the realization that you need to raise your prices in order to remain competitive and hone in on your ideal client market. It might also be the case that you need to raise prices in order to offer compensation that attracts qualified candidates as the job market continues to become more competitive.
Whatever your reasoning, identifying your goals is the first step toward the conclusion that a price increase is in your company’s future.
Dive Into Your Numbers
At this stage, evaluating your business’s current costs, productivity and other factors provides you with the insight you need to implement your price increase effectively. The process allows you to determine where your costs and prices are no longer aligned, and it also helps you plan out exactly how the price increase will impact your finances moving forward — including how you’ll move from increasing prices to attaining your goals.
Start by examining your current numbers. Many factors play into accurate pricing, including:
- Technician production
- The cost of sending technicians into the field
- The number of jobs per day for technicians, on average
- Your sales processes
- Pricing consistency
With your current numbers in mind, start to consider how you’ll implement the price increases you’re considering. Will they apply to all customers? Regions? Services? Answer potentially tough questions like:
- Will price increases impact all customers?
- What about customers whose service agreements only started recently, say within the last year?
- Will price increases apply to all services or only select services?
- Consider services that require particular equipment or materials, as well as those that take more time to complete.
- In some circumstances, does it make more sense to decrease the number of included services per year rather than increase price?
- Will price increases apply to all geographic areas?
- If the increase will only apply to certain regions, which and why?
Lastly, scrutinize your processes and how closely they’re followed. Be sure to focus on the reality of your current situation rather than what you would consider to be ideal; the degree to which you actually follow your processes will play directly into how easy or difficult it will be to implement your price changes. Consider:
- Start dates
- Are they being tracked? If so, where?
- Price increase dates
- Are they being tracked? If so, where?
- Pricing on production orders
- Do you document the proper price per service in these circumstances?
- Time in/out, if referencing price per hour
- Consider accurate service durations
- The terms of your service agreements
- Are customers guaranteed a locked-in price for a particular length of time?
- How will you handle potential cancellations?
- Are certain accounts okay to let go?
- Will you offer price increase exceptions to certain accounts?
- Will other benefits be provided to offset the sting of a price increase, such as providing fewer services for the same price rather than an increase?
With the right numbers and data, you’ll be positioned to lay out a price increase plan that brings you closer to your business goals without alienating your customer base unnecessarily.
Make a Communication Plan
No one wants to be caught off guard by a price increase, so it’s crucial to have a plan for communicating the changes to everyone involved. Start by making a list of who needs to be informed.
It may go without saying that you’ll have to inform your customers before rolling out price increases, but be sure your list includes all who will be impacted. If you’re only increasing prices in a certain region or for a certain service, for instance, be sure your list includes all of the customers for whom it applies — and not those it doesn’t.
Of course, you’ll also have to ensure that everyone who needs to be aware of the price increase internally is also up to speed. As you move toward implementing your price increase, be sure your team is informed accordingly. This includes sales and service representatives who will be expected to speak to the price increase; consider providing them with a script or talking points for fielding questions or concerns from customers.
How you inform customers is up to you, but it’s generally best to inform them (physically, digitally, or even both) in writing so that you have a tangible paper trail that they were informed in a timely fashion. You may also consider working the price increase into marketing texts and invoices so that customers are informed in multiple ways. Lastly, consider writing future price increases (or the possibility thereof) into your service agreements so that you’re positioned for easier transitions in the future. If price increases are already included in agreements, you might consider simply implementing increases as outlined without a formal announcement; in this case, it’s a must to ensure that increases are clearly outlined upfront to avoid potential backlash.
While no one is excited to share the news about a price increase, you can minimize churn and soften the process with appropriate preparation. To ensure your next price increase is as smooth and successful as possible, let PestPac’s Professional Services team provide the experienced insight you need and help you put your numbers to work for you.