Pest Control Operator Q & A- Raising Prices
One of the most difficult challenges pest control operators face is meeting overhead. As labor costs, cost of pesticides, gas prices, and property taxes all increase; some pest control companies are left facing the inevitable… Raising prices to meet overhead, or closing the doors forever.
How do I tell my existing customers that I am raising my prices?
The notion of raising prices strikes fear in pest control operators; and for good reason. Nothing will send your customers to the nearest competitor faster than raising prices. There’s a lot at stake when you decide.
Surviving a price increase means getting it right. You need to keep up the number of sales, avoid a customer exodus, and use your price increase to maintain the required margins.
There are a few pointers other pest control operators have used to help ease this price transition and avoid a mass customer exodus.
Find The Right Time
When you raise your prices, pick a time that will offer the least customer resistance. Your pest control business’s seasonality, growth stage and sales cycle all affect your choice. It’s best to raise prices when times are good rather then when they are bad. When gas hits $5.00 per gallon, everyone pays it. Raising prices when times are lean communicates to your customers that you are just passing the buck on to them.
Offer Customers A Price That Will Sustain Your Company Long-Term
Deciding on how much you should change your prices is very challenging. There are two theories out there: one large price increase, or several small ones over time and hope they go unnoticed. I find the latter strategy, “death by 1000 cuts.”
Set a price that you can sustain your pest control business for as long as possible. Customers can better deal with a price increase if they know the new price will hold steady for a while. You can even offer contracts that can lock in the new rate for a long time, so customers can rest assure the price won’t go up again in the near future.
Be Honest With Your Customers
If you have decided that conditions are such that you need to raise prices, be completely honest with your customers. Explain to them that raising prices isn’t for purposes of gouging them for bigger profits. Explain to them it’s a matter of survival. Many customers understand that your prices have to go up if you want to stay in business.
Brain science suggests that we tend to be more agreeable when there’s a reason for change. Have a reason and share it. Feel badly about raising your price? Share that too. Make sure your common sense explanation is short, straightforward, and consistent.
Changing Value By Emphasizing New Or Added Benefits
Price is supported by the value the customer perceives in the product and service in which the price is attached. Basically, your customers need some additional value of your product s or service if you are going to raise your prices. Focus on the benefits of your unique pest control method, a new and different product, or your company’s unmatched service.
Add An Incentive
Have you ever heard of the saying, “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down?”
A small gift or gift card, a one time discount, or and extra free pest service can help ease this transition with customers.
Listen To Your Technicians
The pest control technicians are your front-line people. Make sure they are all on the same page with the company and that they’re all offering the same truthful explanation to the price increase.
Technicians have more face-to-face interaction with the customer then you ever will, so get some feedback from them. What are your customers saying about the price increase?
Unfortunately, raising prices are a necessity for many businesses; and not just in the pest control industry. Make sure you absolutely need to raise prices before you do, and expect that you will not retain all of your customers during this transition. With a well thought out plan, you can continue to help your customers live pest free lives, and still stay in business.
Please comment below with your experiences. If you have any other pest control questions, just ask.