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1. Make customer service your top priority. The more value you offer your customers, the better they handle a price increase.
2. Promote the loyalty of repeat customers by offering special deals or incentives. Everyone likes to feel valued.
3. Be honest about the price increase. Honesty is the best route to trust. Let the customers know why you had to make the difficult decision to raise your prices. Call it what it is, a PRICE INCREASE.
4. Do not use the same margin for all options, packages or services. I have found that if more than 20 percent of your customers are buying your top package you are leaving money on the table. As long as there is perceived value in the wash package you can charge a premium for the extra services. I have worked with many operators implementing this strategy and in every case it has helped them achieve an increase of over $1 per car.
5. Make changes to your wash packages to add perceived value. Psychology can add value. Why do consumers pay $4 for a cup of coffee at Starbucks? Why do they spend $250 on a bottle of Chanel No. 5? There are less expensive cups of coffee on the market and other great fragrances which are less expensive but consumers continue to purchase items with perceived value. Simple changes to your packages such as emphasizing the brand of sealer wax you are using can add perceived value. I emphasize at least one feature for each of my detail packages.
6. Offer something new and unique. The main issue with price increases is a sliding scale of comparative value. If you have the same detail packages and pricing as your competitor down the street, there is no price elasticity. On the other end of the sliding scale, you can offer something that is really unique and you can name your own price. It does not generally draw complaints because there is not a comparable product or service.
7. Make price adjustments gradually. It is easier for customers to accept gradual price changes on selected items over time rather than a major across-the-board price hike. Stagger your increases for a softer reaction.
8. Establish a pricing change calendar. Set specific dates for when you adjust your pricing and record the dates in your planning calendar. Create action items that need to be completed before the changes occur; new signage, flyers, etc.
9. Keep track when your expenses change. Make adjustments to your breakeven number whenever you have an overhead change. For example, your utility rates increase, or you refinance your mortgage and your monthly payment goes down.
10. Execute your plan. You have made the effort to research and formulate a plan, execute it!