Four Methods to Talk About Price Increases With Your Clients
Possibly the best and the worst thing that you can go through as a biz owner is the situation of raising your prices. It's awesome because of biz growth but it's always potentially super awkward and uncomfortable for you to have the conversation with your repeat clients. Here are some super simple ways for you to handle a price increase with your clients.
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 outline and allowing any future price increases. It would give you the opportunity as a biz owner to be able to change your prices at the drop of a hat with a simple acknowledgement to your fine print. The downside of this is of course, most clients do not read the fine print, so at some point you're potentially still going to have to actually speak with clients about the increase. A bonus though is being able to fall back on what the "fine print" says.
Having it worded like that takes a little pressure off of you and lets you take your emotions out of the decision. It instead 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 those last few open slots you have. If set up properly your clients feel like they are getting a great deal and are equally aware of your new prices.
No matter if you're raising the prices on canvas or tote bags this method always helps get a bulk of orders placed. Clients appreciate the heads up and the reminder to snag their favorite items.
"The Honor System"
A question that pops up a lot is how to handle people that 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 if a client has actually booked (like money on the table) I will honor every single price that was set at that time - even if they didn't know what all the prices were. So for instance I've had clients pay my session retainer fee at the end of one year but their session isn't until maybe the spring of next year. If at that time prices for my packages, prints, canvases or whatever have raised they still get the old prices. It's what I call the honor system and it's how I show my clients love.
However, if a not-yet-booked client expresses interest in me and we talk briefly about prices but they don't actually schedule anything I do not honor the old prices. If they come to me months later and book and if my prices have increased we kind of start the entire process over.
Wording it like this forces that awkwardness out the window and makes it very clear where we stand.
There are a bunch of biz babes I know that have an annual (usually January) up in their prices. They are very open with 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 also makes them very aware of growing business decisions. This also helps to set your business as "premium" - since your clients are aware of the yearly price increase.
This helps create a sense of urgency to get potential fence-sitters to go ahead and book you.
I'd love to hear your fears, hesitations or ways of handling the dreaded price increase conversation with clients. Do you sneak it in and hope they don't ask questions? Do you still talk about it awkwardly like you don't deserve the higher price?