Tradies, here’s 5 steps to keep your customers and raise your prices

The most logical thing to do to combat increases in expenses (and ensure you’re still earning a steady profit) is to raise the prices of your services. We understand this is easier said than done. Slight increases in pricing can reap massive benefits for tradies. Most shy away from doing so in fear customers will baulk at price rises.

The fear is justified. However, long term, it can hold your business back from generating increased profits. At the end of the day, if a customer isn’t willing to pay you what you deserve, let them go to your competitors! It’s customers like these that you might end up struggling to collect payment from them in the end anyway.

If you’re planning on increasing your prices (which we highly recommend) follow these simple tips to combat the negative side-effects of price increases on your trade business:

Plan price increases in advance

Determine at the beginning of each financial year when you will increase your prices and by how much, based off past expenses and future forecasting.

Why?

Customers may have a difficult time accepting your increased prices in the first instance. If you were to increase them at the beginning of the year and then realise you need to increase them again 4 months later with no warning, then customers will not only have gone through random price increases once, but now twice!

Honesty is the best policy

When we say this we don’t mean you should start screaming from the rooftops about your price increases. If a customer asks, don’t avoid the question. Answer honestly.

Say something like, “Yes, Mrs Jones, our prices have increased. This is due to unavoidable increases in labour and material expenses and we thank you for your ongoing customership at this time.”

Add value

Your customers are less likely to protest price increases if you’re able to add value or some sort of ‘freebie’.

To add value, commit to an ‘it’s the little things’ approach to customer service. For example, our professional tradesmen do this by using clean boots and Tidy Tradie mats when performing work. Customers see they are taking extra care to be neat and tidy, and therefore trust that our tradies know what they are doing and can justify pricing.

Another thing our tradies do, is leave behind free plumbing information booklets and ‘drip’ shaped stress balls. The customer feels valued as they have received a small gift. The information booklet also increases our credibility.

Increase slowly

You’ve probably heard of this age-old anecdote before, if you put a lobster in a boiling pot of water, it’s going to scramble to get out of the pot. If you put it in a cold pot of water and slowly bring it to heat, it’s not going to notice.

This somewhat applies to this situation. If there’s a drastic change in your pricing, customers will notice straight away and will be more likely to protest. On the other hand, steadily increasing your prices until you reach your desired price range will provide customers with warning and they will become accustomed to it.

For example, your hourly rate is $40 an hour but you want to increase it to $50. Increase your rate by $1-2 a month until you reach $50!

Offer occasional discounts

Price-conscious customers are not fond of price hikes, and will tell you so. In order to retain these type of customers, strategically offer discounts of (example) $50. You will still retain these customers whilst still supporting your increased pricing for future jobs you complete with them.

All in all, you can’t please everyone. And as I mentioned, it’s the customers that have adverse reactions to your pricing and turn to your competitors that you probably don’t want as customers anyway! To combat the negative effects of price increases, prepare for backlash using the above tips and ensure your team is ready to respond to concerns in a friendly and professional manner.

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