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6 Steps to Raise Your Prices Without Losing Customers

Last summer while creating my “Price for Profit” spreadsheets to help farmers calculate prices and determine the margins you’re making on your products, I realized my raw milk price was about 25% too low.

Time To Raise The Price!

I hadn’t increased the price since 2014, and since that time every single cost associated with our milk production has increased by at least 25%, including labor, feed, and taxes, just to name a few.

In order to maintain integrity with you, I’d sure better practice what I preached!

So I took a couple of months to get my “barn” in order before upping my milk price from $12 to $15 per jar last week.

Happy to say I did not lose one single customer to the price increase, nor did anyone respond negatively.

Planning ahead was vital, and I’ll share the key steps you can take up front to make sure you don’t lose even one customer when you have your price increase on your farm.

First, Build Deeply Loyal Customer Relationships

Make sure you’ve set up a system to build and maintain deep relationships with your customers through your in-person connections and your email marketing.

When your customers receive at least one or two emails per month focused on connecting with them and not just selling to them, they’ll stick with you through a price increase, because the value they find in your products is not through the price.

Watch the video below where I review the steps, then read on for further clarification: 

Include These 6 Steps in your Price Increase Strategy

1. Be Honest & Be Matter of Fact

First of all, assess whether that product even needs an announcement. Sometimes price increase announcements create unnecessary frustration.

For instance, I treat my milk differently than my meat products. I observe that when someone picks up a steak or a chicken in our farm store, they don’t even bother looking at the price. They trust us. If I realize a particular meat product needs a price adjustment, I’ll just change the price when I print out the label.

However, milk is something they commit to picking up a certain amount every week, and they pay for missed weeks, so I like to give them about ten-fourteen day’s notice that the milk price is increasing.

It’s just a statement of fact: As of Monday, March 15, 2018, Milk price is $15/jar.

That’s it. Straightforward and matter of fact.

2. Thank your customers.

When I send my price increase email, I always start off with gratitude – it might look like this:

Dear {customer name},

Thank you so much for being a wonderful and supportive customer! I love seeing you every week when you pick up your milk/meat & eggs for your family.

In order to continue serving you in the best way I can, I will be increasing the price of milk to $15/jar effective next Monday, March 25th.

Then I continue with my short, factual, friendly email and include a warm closing.

3. Explain your reasons, but not too much.

A short explanation is okay, but don’t make the mistake of showing your customers your expense sheets – this just increases frustration and confusion.

A short explanation I give may look like this: since our last price increase the wages we pay increased by 25%, our taxes have increased significantly, our feed prices increased by at least 25% and every cost associated with milking cows has increased.

4. Did you add a feature or can you offer a lower cost alternative?

If our steak prices increase, I might point out that our ground beef is still just $8lb, a more affordable alternative if needed.

Or, perhaps your milk price increased, but you also switched to GMO-free or organic feed. That’s additional value that helps them absorb a price increase, too. It’s not necessary to have added a feature to defend a price increase, but if you did, be sure to point it out.

5. Over-deliver, first.

This relates back to relationship building. In our store, they get the personalized one-on-one attention that makes the experience much more fulfilling to our customers.  They have someone there who can answer all their troubleshooting questions on home dairying, or how to cook a particular cut of meat.

When they stop in for milk, the kids just might get to pet a calf or help collect eggs or visit the baby kittens. To a farmer, this may seem like everyday stuff, but that’s part of overdelivering!! That family that had that experience will remember that for years!

Or, maybe they buy a box of meat and get free video tutorials you created. The videos cost you nothing except time to create, but it’s incredibly valuable to your customers. Again, that’s you over-delivering!

6. Never apologize.

When you apologize for raising your prices, it makes you feel like you did something wrong and you have to defend it, and #2, it makes your customer feel like you did something wrong! It makes you both feel icky, so best is just don’t do it.

If on a rare occasion someone objects to a price increase, I respond in a way that fits the situation best – I may say, “I completely understand your objection; our products and our prices won’t work for everyone.”

I always go back to the fact that if I don’t charge sustainable prices, then I won’t be around to serve anyone in a year or two, like 98% of all other raw milk producers around me. Then I leave customers scrambling to find another source for their farm-fresh products they so dearly love.

When you incorporate these six steps into your business, you’ll feel incredible support from your customer base when you have to increase your prices. They feel loyal and are 100% supportive of a price increase.

Forward this post to the farmers you know who need a little nudge to find the confidence to price their products sustainably so we keep our farmers in business!!

Make sure your prices are sustainable – sign up for the free course today:  “Price for Profit”

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Erin Colafrancesco January 31, 2018, 7:55 am

    Though I do not know Charlotte, I have followed her blogs and read her new book, Farm Marketing from the Heart, and have already began to put into practice her simple yet effective marketing plans, BEFORE I’ve started selling our heritage meats, milk, honey, etc. A lot of what she writes seems like common sense, but it feels great to have the numbers, words and encouragement right in front of you. She is a great example of what she writes: It seems like all of her emails were written for me personally. Thank you. (We do have a website, oldcenturymeats.com, but we are totally revamping it now. The existing one was done by someone else and it’s honestly a little embarrassing after reading your book. Now, I am in the process of creating my own…geared to my “dream customer.” Thank you.)

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