How to Talk to Clients About Price Increases

price increasesAs much as you want to ask for the right pricing at the onset of a project, you can't help but make mistakes every now and then, especially when there are too many dynamic factors at play. As a result, you sometimes find yourself not getting the payment you need or deserve.

There are two things you can do at this point: 1) just stick to the contract without saying anything; or 2) negotiate for a higher price. The first thing is easy to do because it does away with awkward moments and potential conflicts. You don't have to face the risk of angering your clients, or worse, losing them completely. But think about this: Will your business thrive (or stay alive) without changing your rates? Can you afford not to increase prices?

There's no reason to worry in the first place. If you bring up the topic in a professional manner, chances are that your clients will be willing to listen. They can disagree with you, but that doesn't mean they'll get into a fight with you. If your clients do decide to drop you instead, it's still not a complete loss on your end. Spending your time and effort on something that doesn't pay you well is counterproductive when there are other projects that can pay much better.

Though it may seem unappealing to you at first, asking for a better rate is the right thing to do in this situation. You may get a positive response – or you may not. The kind of answer you'll get largely relies on how you approach your clients and how you present your case. No two clients are alike, so there's no surefire formula when it comes to making them agree with your proposal. However, you can increase the odds in your favor with the following tips:

1) Show how you calculate your fee in the first place.

You can't get your clients to agree to a price increase if they don't understand how you determine your rates to begin with. If your clients aren't aware of just how much work you do, they might think that the price they're currently paying you is more than enough. Even with a simple spreadsheet, you can show the breakdown of all the resources you use to deliver great products or services. Explain that all the resources have a corresponding cost, whether it's electricity, raw materials, skills, time, etc.

2) Clearly identify and back up the reasons why you're asking for a higher price.

You have to be able to justify your request because “Why?” is among the first questions your clients will ask. You could have many reasons, like increased costs, unforeseen expenses, miscalculations, lack of sustainability, etc. What's important is that your reasons should be valid, and the only way they can be valid is if they have numbers and figures to back them up. Be ready to present documents that can support your request, and make sure that your clients can verify them. For example, if your suppliers jacked up their rates, present the new price list to your clients. If you have unforeseen expenses, prepare to hand over the receipts.