What do I do when my client wants to cancel after a price increase?
Costs have gone up. That’s the reality. Minimum wage has increased. Competition for labor is fierce.
Costs of operating your business from rent to paying mileage are higher. Much higher.
You’ve done everything you can to reduce costs and create efficiencies in your operating costs
Now you’ve raised or are planning to raise rates.
Most of your clients are not going to cancel because you raised rates for your service if you are providing a great service and doing an outstanding job for them.
The fact of the matter is, that some clients will cancel your service with no warning, but most will raise a red flag. Whether your client is rate sensitive, or it’s the principal of the matter, or they simply can’t afford the increase, they’ve provided an opportunity for you to discuss the change before they make a final decision.
A good percentage of these clients will still stay on board with you if you play your cards right you and your team be on the same page with handling questions related to your price increase.
Here are some suggestions:
Note: not all red flags are obvious. Some of your clients will say flat out “I’m going to cancel”, “I can’t afford this”, “I’m not happy about this”. Very few will protest loudly. But some still do. And most will be very passive and not say outright any issue – but still plan to leave you. It may sound something like “I got a letter about rates going up?” let you explain and protest with acceptance…then cancel service at some point in the near future. We suggest you handle all these types of inquiries in a similar format:
1st: Hear your clients and empathize
It seems very obvious, the first thing to win the client to your side is to listen to them: hear your client and empathize.
The owner’s instinct (and therefore the managers and key support staff’s instinct) is to play defense. “Costs are up,” “we have to pay our employees more and so we have to raise prices” you say. And “we have to pay for training and”… and on and on and on. All valid business reasons. All necessary things from your perspective. All important things your clients benefit from and are costs of delivering a superior service. And it’s not your client’s problem. It’s yours.
We want to empathize with the client’s situation. Here is an example of some of the “magical” phrases and questions we advise our clients to use:
“I understand how you feel (client’s name). (Client’s name) can you help me understand… how is this price increase affecting you”?
You’re going to accomplish a few things with this question: Demonstrate empathy, express that you care and communicate you are willing to hear your client and provide an opportunity for them to vent.
You’re not at this point offering any concessions. Just understanding.
2nd: Conduct a brief survey
There are a few questions we advise to discuss with the client next. Here is an example of one of them: “How do you feel about the current service you are receiving?” Most of the time there is nothing to complain about and you can navigate into deeper issues. If there are legitimate complaints you can address them and have as part of a game-plan for that specific client.
3rd: Dive deeper into the financial concerns
Costs going up by 10-15% usually translates to the average client by $150-200 a month. But can be significantly higher for higher volume clients that can make a big difference. We suggest to understand what clients you can afford to lose and which ones you can’t.
If the price change concern really is about finances – difficulty affording increased costs with growing needs for long term care consumption over time, we want to address this topic with our client
It’s a great opportunity to bring other strategic partners (that also can make great referral partners to the table) such as elder law attorneys, estate planners, fiduciaries etc. Sixth Sense uses some very creative approaches where we have helped some of our clients work with strategic partners that can help access benefits for seniors of which they were previously unaware. The client can save money on their phone bill, housing costs, energy costs, food bill, transportation, other healthcare costs, etc. We suggest these as pro-active programs opposed to a defensive strategy.
Either way, it’s a great time to introduce this dynamic into your value offering with other strategic partners and accomplish retaining your client for the longer term.
Exploring for ways to identify efficiencies in your business with sales, operations, recruitment? Maximize your referral relationships in marketing with your home care, hospice or assisted living business. Schedule a discovery meeting with Sixth Sense Solutions today. Call us at 949-241-6690, or you can reach our team via email at info@SixSenseSolutions.com