Yesterday, I wrote about raising your rates on new clients.
Today’s topic is a bit trickier…raising your rates on existing clients.
It’s trickier because clients must be trained to expect an increase — and chances are yours aren’t.
Here’s what I wrote about this in my latest book, “The Creative Professional’s Guide to Money: How to Think About It, How to Talk About It and How to Manage It.”
Certain seasons or times of year are conducive to change and can be used as a catalyst, such as the new year. That’s why December is a good time to start thinking about how you’re going to do it and letting your existing clients know.
Anything new, for that matter, can serve as a justification for increasing prices: new company name or business structure, new office, equipment or employees.
You can move long-term clients slowly and incrementally toward a higher rate. What’s important is setting the precedent that things will change—the specific change is incidental. So even if the increase is miniscule, what’s important is that it takes effect.
Or you can suggest a different type of working relationship with an existing client. For example, if you’ve been working hourly to date, you can suggest moving to project-based fees.
When you modify or upgrade your services is a perfectly logical time to increase prices too, especially for existing clients. Offering new services is like a new beginning. It creates a new mind-set, especially if you position and promote it that way.
Old rules no longer apply, and the result is much less pushback from existing clients. Often, in fact, negative reactions to higher prices are a result of how they’re presented, not the prices themselves. Always give clients plenty of advance notice that something new is coming up. Give them details about how they will be affected. Give them time to respond and an opportunity to provide feedback.
How do you do it? Or if you haven’t, what’s getting in your way?