An inevitable business decision that I’ve struggled with over the course of owning my practice is raising prices. Earlier this year, I found that I still wasn’t earning enough to get where I want to be financially. I knew a price increase was necessary, but I also knew I needed a different approach than I had used in the past.
Because I chose to offer discounted packages at an incredible price in the beginning to get more clients (three 60-minute massages for $99), I’ve had to increase my package prices a few times over the last four years. Although this strategy was well received, the time came when I realized I needed more consistent income than I was making selling packages. That’s when I restructured my frequency incentives rather than raising prices across the board.
But this time was different. I needed to earn more per appointment so an overall pricing increase was in order (I’ve only raised my fees overall once before). The biggest fear of raising prices is that we’ll lose clients. Most likely, we will lose those who are already stretching their budgets to get massage from us. I wanted to be mindful of their circumstances while setting up a new fee schedule that would serve me for awhile so I wouldn’t be facing the same dilemma next year.
Price increases are a delicate dance. They’re a balancing act between our needs and those of our clients. It can also be uncomfortable discussing them with clients, so much so that many therapists never raise their prices! I’m completely aware of how being on the receiving end of rising expenses feels and wanted to make this adjustment as smooth as possible.
I DIDN’T choose January 1st as the effective date. I know it’s customary to raise prices the first of the year but since credit card bills for holiday spending might compete with massage funds, I decided to raise my prices in October. I also avoided raising prices in the summer when people are taking vacations and buying back-to-school stuff.
I DIDN’T increase prices equally for all services. The clients who have budgetary restrictions are typically the ones who book 60-minute sessions less frequently and the clients who book longer appointments come in more often. This indicated that those who book longer appointments have more discretionary income.
I DIDN’T send emails to everyone announcing the price increase. Instead, I displayed the new frequency discount prices on the white board in my treatment room from the beginning of September through October. As regular clients came in, I asked them if they had seen the new pricing that would begin October 1st and if they had any questions. If they didn’t see it, I explained how it would affect them (not everyone in my practice).
I DIDN’T display the current price next to the new price on the white board. What other people are paying has no bearing on what any individual deems affordable for them. Not one person asked me about the increase in pricing for services they don’t book.
I DID add a “New Prices 10/1/17” link to my automated confirmation and reminder emails so anyone booking an appointment (who bothered to read the email) would know about the change in fees. I still have it included and will probably keep it for another few months. I want clients who haven’t been in for some time to know that their massage will cost more before they commit so they aren’t caught off guard at checkout.
I DID keep a few package options that offer a very slight discount with no expiration date. This gives an incentive to some of my less frequent clients and I’m surprised by how many have sold. I also took 30-minute sessions off the menu since so few were being booked.
So how did it go? After comparing the number of appointments and earnings for the last two quarters of the year, I found that I saw less clients but brought in more money for the three months since my price increase than the three months before. A big piece of loving my practice is feeling good about the compensation I receive in exchange for the service I provide. I couldn’t be more pleased!
What strategies have you used to take the sting out of raising your prices? If you don’t see a comment box below, please click the Leave a comment/comments link to share. Thank you!