Due to high inflation, price changes are inevitable in our sector. Afraid to adjust your prices? We understand, but don't forget: you're worth it! In our previous blog post, we told you why you shouldn't be afraid to adjust your prices. Now that we have convinced you of your personal added value, it is time to get started. Are you curious how you can concretely go about implementing price changes in a commercial and customer-friendly manner? Then be sure to read on!
Putting things in order
An important first step is to get everything in order. And by everything, we mainly mean your financial figures and personal goals. Take one or more days off work so that you have time to go over these things. Seat yourself in a quiet place where you can work undisturbed and concentrate well, sit down at your computer or take a pen and paper and list a few things.
Calculate your expenses, how much it costs to practice your profession per hour. List everything: rent, publicity, electricity, water, VAT, products and materials, telecom costs, transport, bookkeeping, etc. To easily calculate your working cost per hour, you can use the following formula:
1. Grooming hours per day x number of open days per week = weekly grooming hours
2. Weekly grooming hours x 48 (working weeks per year) = annual grooming hours
3. Annual cost/annual grooming hours = hourly working cost
Take a look at your personal and professional expenses, the current state of your business, your profit margin, and relate these to your short- and long-term goals. What growth do you have in mind exactly? What do you want to work towards and what do you still want to achieve? Develop a well-thought-out strategy for your business. Draw up a profit model, see exactly what you need and what financial buffer you wish to build up in order to realise certain goals. This is also where the previously mentioned ‘granting or favour factor’ comes into play (see previous blog post under 'It's okay... to make money'). How much do you grant or allow yourself to create a healthy and stable financial situation? Make an overview of your costs and your goals, but also of the financial resources, both those you have already generated and those you expect to acquire in the future. A goal can only be achieved if you allocate resources to it and take action. Think of the goals as items on a bucket list. Writing it all down or typing it out makes it concrete and means you have taken the first step. As time goes on, your personal and financial situation and goals are bound to change. Therefore, take the time to update this list from time to time.
What is your trigger?
Now that you have put all accounting matters and all your goals on paper, it is time for the next step: analysing your personal trigger(s). This corresponds to your intrinsic motivation. What sets you in motion, what motivates you to change, why is change necessary for you? Write this down or possibly make a mood board that you hang up in your personal space in the grooming salon. By visualising this, your motivation will be imprinted in your memory. You will convince yourself again and again and always have the answer to the questions why you are worth it and why change and price increases are the right choice for you.
Change happens when you realise that it is often a matter of having to do so rather than wanting to. A significant price increase (we are talking about increases of more than 20%) sometimes has to happen. Most of the time, as a starting groomer, you keep your prices low out of uncertainty or fear of scaring off customers or losing them. Do not look at a price change as something that creates fear or doubt, but as a positive event! Make these changes in time. The bigger your business, the less easy it will be to adjust operations and accounting.
Strive to be ever better and be innovative. Think about quality and optimal service. Take the time to study all aspects of your business. Read as many professional magazines, books and articles on the internet as possible, join a grooming organisation or breed clubs, talk to breeders and participate in dog shows or seminars. Brush up on your communication techniques, learn all about negotiating, about a dog's diet and about its psychology and that of your clients. Growing and learning is essential for your own development! Of course, all this costs time and money. Keep in mind that your self-development and that of your business are the best investments you can make. The bigger the difference YOU can make and the bigger the added value YOU can offer, the better! By keeping your prices constant and not letting them evolve with the market, you are not helping anyone. Be convinced that good customers will be prepared to pay a little more for a top service and for your expertise.
Honesty is the best policy
Now that you have made everything clear for yourself, it is time to communicate the price changes to your customers. But how do you do this? The most important thing to remember is this: Be honest with your customers. By communicating openly and honestly with your customers, you make it clear to them that you care about them. But keep it professional. A good tip is to always have a price list (in the form of a flyer or brochure) with the prices for the different services you offer. When it comes time to talk about the price, you can keep your price list ready and refer back to it. It helps to distance yourself somewhat and to have a professional attitude. By having the prices on paper, you put the focus on the list and your services rather than on you. You will find that by working this way, a burden will be lifted from your shoulders.
Know what you're worth and don't let yourself be thrown off balance when there are negative reactions. Not everyone in your customer base will agree to the price increases. And that is okay! Every customer has the right to decide what he or she wants to give for a service. But the same applies in the opposite direction: you also have the right to take calculated risks, to build up a financial buffer and thus to develop growth opportunities as a person and a company. Remember that these changes are necessary to keep your salon healthy. Don't be afraid to lose a client who is not willing to pay a little extra to get proper care and a beautifully groomed dog in return. Everyone needs to build a certain customer base and often it takes a while to get the right customers. Put all your energy into your business, into your personal and professional growth and into people who care a great deal about their pets and are therefore prepared to pay an extra price for the best possible care.
Go through your customer base. There will no doubt be some who, instead of a quarterly grooming session, are prepared to come weekly or monthly with their beloved four-legged friend, especially if you can offer them a grooming session at a more interesting price than if they came less frequently. For example, do you have a doodle dog that comes 4 times a year and that you normally charge 100 euros for (because grooming it requires so much work)? Then maybe you can convince his owner to come every month. The first month you can wash him extensively, the next month you can scissor his coat and so on. By having the sessions shorter after each other, you can charge a lower price per session. By thinking cleverly and commercially you will then be able to wash this dog 12 times a year instead of 4. Washing a dog once a week is perfectly normal. You already know this, but the trick is also to convince a dog owner of this. Probably not every owner will be won over by the idea, but there are bound to be customers who are open to the idea. Decided to upgrade your prices and service? Well done! You may lose customers, but you will certainly gain many new ones who are more than willing to value your services!