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Decided to raise your rates? How to tell your clients

You've decided to raise your rates, now how do you tell your clients?

As your business, experience and expertise grows, there inevitably comes a time when you decide you want to raise your rates to better reflect the value of your services. 

Whatever the reason for your price increase, how you communicate the news is just as important as planning the increase itself. Your communications need to provide clients with detailed information, address questions and concerns, and reinforce your value as their chosen service provider. 

To help you plan a smooth pricing increase, we’ve provided five considerations to guide your price communication strategy with your clients. 

Editor's note: This blog post was updated from its original version on 19 October 2020. 

1. Position value from the client's perspective

There are many reasons you may choose to raise your prices – you may have added more services to your offering or your costs may have simply increased. Regardless of why you are raising your prices, communicating the added value that the price increase will bring to your clients will help them view the change in a positive light. 

When communicating a price increase to customers, clearly outline the value that they will benefit from. Consider answering the following questions as you prepare your messaging:

  • What has changed about your services that provide additional value?
  • Have you done extra training, developed new skill sets or hired specialists?
  • Have you expanded your service offering? 
  • Are there benefits that your company offers that currently aren’t documented in your quoting or estimating process (such as technical support, extra resources, increased availability or shorter turnaround)? 

Allen Greer, Digital Strategy Director at Fuze, a Miami-based digital agency, uses benefit-driven messaging to communicate price increases to his customers: “I’ve found there is one fail proof explanation that I’ve never had a client argue with. It goes like this, ‘Our goal as a company is working to continually improve the quality of our services, which means hiring the most talented people we can find to produce the best possible work.’ Our clients reap the benefits of improved quality, so it’s a mutually beneficial business decision.”

When your clients feel like they’re getting great value, they’ll be more likely to have a positive reaction and continue to be a repeat customer. 

2. Avoid over-explaining and apologising

Increasing prices is a standard part of running a growing business, and enables a company to continually provide better services over the long term. As Greer says, “Rate fluctuations naturally follow a company’s growth plan. You can’t grow by staying static.”

While it can be tempting to provide long-winded explanations and apologies for increasing your rates, giving too much information can take away from the key message you’re trying to communicate and ultimately confuse your clients. In addition, apologising could send a signal that the price increase will negatively impact your clients and/or that you’re not confident in the increased value you’re providing. 

When communicating a price increase to customers, ensure that your messaging only contains essential information and avoid adding unnecessary “fluff”. Don’t be afraid to own your decision! 

3. Be very clear about the details 

A change to the way you’ve been doing business is bound to spark a bunch of questions from your customers. Presenting specific details about the price increase informs your customers that you’ve been methodical and will proactively answer the most prevalent questions. 

Consider including the following information in your communications:

  • When the price increase takes effect 
  • The exact price that will be reflected on their next bill
  • What happens for jobs that are currently in progress
  • What happens for customers that are currently on a promotion or being offered a special price

It might also be helpful to prepare an internal ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ document that addresses questions or concerns that you expect will come up for some customers. Provide your team with the FAQs document ahead of time so everyone is able to provide a great customer experience by responding to questions quickly and consistently. 

4. Give plenty of advance notice

Although price increases are an expected part of doing business, it is important to give your clients sufficient time to process the information and potentially look at other service providers offering lower or competitive rates. (Depending on the significance of the increase, your clients may be required to secure additional approval or funding to continue to do business with you – especially if the business is facing challenges.)

To help your clients feel valued and give them time to make any necessary changes on their end, provide as much notice as possible before the price increase will come into effect. If you’re able to provide a few months’ notice, consider following up with a reminder closer to the effective date (either via email or over the phone) so the price change – and any consequential business changes – doesn’t turn into a last-minute scramble. 

5. Where possible, have a conversation 

Taking the time to individually speak with your clients shows that you value their business and understand that a price increase is a matter to be taken seriously. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to answer any questions or deal with objections head on.  

If possible, arrange a call or meeting (virtually or in-person) with each of your clients to communicate your prepared price increase messaging. (If you have a large client base, consider making a list of your most valuable or longest standing clients and make it a point to call them first.) 

When communicating verbally, It’s important to follow up with written documentation that reiterates what you’ve mentioned and provides them key information to review. 

Leading with value

The most important thing to remember about communicating a price increase to your clients is showing value.

If you demonstrate your value by using benefit-driven, clear and detailed messaging, and demonstrate your clients’ value to you by thoroughly answering questions, providing advanced notice and having a personal conversation, your price increase conversation is much more likely to go over smoothly.

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Paige Sopik