Welcome to the final post in our four-post series about how to attract and serve high-end customers.
- In the first post, we gave an overview of premium product positioning.
- The second post addressed how to choose the products and services that will attract upscale customers.
- Then we talked about how to offer excellent customer service that people will be happy to pay more for.
Now that we've laid the groundwork for your transition to upscale business model, let's talk about how you can rebrand your business to promote these changes—and how to raise your prices. We recommend you read our popular post on small business branding for field service; then, in this post, we'll add to those basics with advice that will take your business from great to premium.
Bonus: Want to listen to this post in your car, in your service van, or anywhere you please? We have a podcast version you can either listen to right here on this page, or download to listen to on the device of your choice. Listen now!
How can I charge more for my services?
Here are the steps to rebranding your business as high-end, and raising your prices.
- Know what you stand for...and be able to convey it quickly. Premium businesses have a refined message.
- Hire out your branding. If you're not a pro, don't attempt to DIY your logo, copywriting, or vehicle signage.
- Be consistent in your branding. Inconsistencies, like sometimes using www on your web address and sometimes not, make your business look low-end.
- Change your business name to reflect your new upscale status.
- Put your brand on everything, from you engineers' shoe covers to their towels.
- State your new rates with confidence to show that you're also confident in your work and its value.
- Give current customers a break by raising prices less for them than you do for new customers.
Now let's get into the details.
Know what you stand for...and be able to convey it quickly.
If you've read (or listened to) the previous three posts in this series, you probably have a pretty good idea of the type of customers you want to attract and how the products and services you offer are different from your competitors'.
'A higher-end organization has really refined its message,' says Melina Palmer, founder of The Brainy Business and The Brainy Business Podcast. 'They know what they're about. They know what they're trying to say. They know what they stand for. They know why people choose them. And they can say that in the fewest number of words possible.' That's what's commonly called a Unique Selling Proposition.
For example, your business may be all about white glove service, one-of-a-kind brands, or immaculate detail. Whatever it is, that theme needs to be prominent throughout all all your branding and marketing materials.
Still not sure what makes you different or how to convey it in words? Ticketyboo Marketing offers some good tips on how to develop your USP. Another helpful resource is the book How the World Sees You: Discover Your Highest Value Through the Science of Fascination by Sally Hogshead, which will 'help you differentiate yourself and your business from others, to put what is unique and exciting about you on the table for the world to see.'
Hire out your branding.
Nothing says "low end" like bad writing, logos created in MS Paint, and peeling copy-shop stickers on your service vans. You wouldn't hire a freelance copywriter or designer to work on plumbing or electrical projects. In the same way, you should stick to your strengths and hire out your branding projects instead of trying to DIY them.
Later, we'll talk about why you should start raising your prices even before your transition to a premium business is 100 percent done. But if you can't afford to hire top copywriters, logo designers, web designers, and vehicle signage companies, call your local university; you may be able to hire students in those fields who are willing to work for less to gain experience.
Be consistent in your branding.
Guess how we make 99% of our buying decisions? According to Palmer, it's with our subconscious brain.
'It's kind of like the gatekeeper to any decisions that we're making," she explains. 'Your subconscious is scanning the world around you all the time and saying, "I have a rule for that. I have a rule for that and that, too. Normal. Normal. Normal. Normal." And then when something pops up that is out of the norm, it will flag your conscious brain, and it'll step in and address whatever that happens to be."
In the case of branding—especially if a customer is considering shelling out a lot for a product or service—a "rule" that most people have is that everything needs to be consistent. Anything that's different or strange will jolt the brain from 'Hm, should I buy this?' to 'This looks messy. Next!'
So be sure all your branding is as consistent as can be. For example:
- Use the same set of fonts and colors throughout all your marketing materials, even on your engineers' polo shirts.
- Pick one way to display your phone number, web address, and so on, and stick with it. For the phone number: periods, dashes, parentheses? For the web address, "http" or no? Leave the "www" on or off?
- Systematise the way you present invoices, receipts, service reminders, and other customer documents. Field service management software with customer communication features can be a big help with this.
Staying consistent will keep your upscale prospects moving through the sales process without any hitches.
Change your name.
Does your business name reflect your new premium status? If not, you might want to make the leap—and change it.
Justin Dring, Senior Consultant at Perfect Sense Energy in Manchester, first traded as JD Electrical Services. 'Then we changed it to Blue and Brown, and our logo was a crest that looked a little bit regal...a little bit high-end,' he says. 'We grew so fast, a year later we renamed the business Blue and Brown Property Services.'
According to an article in Startups.co.uk on naming your business, 'Ideally, names should be snappy, original and instantly informative as to what your business does. Customers should be drawn to a name that stands out from the crowd, but also find it trustworthy and professional.' Avoid using your name or initials if you plan to grow your brand. The article also points out that incorporating your location into your business name makes you look more established and trustworthy—perfect for attracting high-paying customers.
Another important consideration when choosing a name to reflect your new, upscale status is to make sure it's available as a domain name for your website. It seems like all the good domains are taken, but we have some workarounds in our post on how to choose a domain name.
Put your brand on everything.
Using branded materials wherever possible looks much more high-end than using plain, generic ones. Of course you'll have your logo on your business cards, invoices, website, and service vans. But you can also have your logo printed on your engineers' uniforms, booties and towels, and tool boxes.
As we mentioned in the second post of this series, on product and service selection, high-paying customers are looking for quality and brand image. Branding your tools is one way to show your commitment to your work and to your brand.
Raise your prices.
You worked to boost your image and increase your value in order to attract better-paying customers. Now it's time to reap the benefits of your hard work with a new field service pricing strategy.
We realise that charging more than you're used to can be scary. What if our current customers rebel? What if customers don't want to pay what we're asking? Maybe our prices are just too high to justify?
We did the research and talked to the experts to help you overcome those fears, and to show you how to raise your prices in a way that doesn't turn off your current customers—the ones you want to keep, anyway.
Know you're worth it.
You've now got high-end products and excellent customer service, and those are worth more than the typical product or service. That's obvious. What's not so obvious is that your skills and experience as a business owner or technician are worth something, too.
You poured years of work and study, and thousands of pounds, into building your skills, your business, and your brand. That should be reflected in your prices.
Also, customers aren't paying for, say, a boiler servicing or a new alarm system. They're paying for you to solve a problem—and in the case of upscale customers, they're also paying for you to go the extra mile to make sure they're well taken care of.
How much is it worth to have a working boiler in December? How much more is it worth if that boiler is fixed quickly and professionally, by a friendly technician who wears branded booties to keep the floor clean and offers a small thank-you gift? Along those same lines, how much is it worth to have the peace of mind of a good alarm system, and how much more is it worth knowing that system was installed by someone who specialises in that particular brand?
'A tradesman can fall very easily into the trap of thinking, "I've got to be the lowest price...what would it take to win your work?" rather than just sticking to their guns,' says Dring. Don't shortchange yourself. Know what you're worth, and charge accordingly.
'You've got creep your margin up if you're going to start spending on rebranding,' says Dring. That's why the first steps we outlined in the process are improving your customer service and offering higher-end products: Once you have those in place, you can start charging more, which will then help you finance the final step—rebranding.
State your estimates with confidence.
When giving a price estimate on a job, don't waver, apologise, or otherwise give the customer an opening to haggle. 'You have to state your price is as if you're telling somebody the weather,' says Palmer. 'Say it with absolute confidence, regardless of what the price is.'
If you sound under-confident in your prices, it seems like you're also not confident in your own work and what it's worth, which is a turnoff for the upscale customer.
Give current customers a break.
There's no need to scare off your current customers by suddenly jumping to premium prices. Instead, use your new prices as an opportunity to foster loyalty in your customers.
Palmer recommends telling your regular customers, 'This is the rate I've been charging new customers. I'd like to honour our old pricing based on our previous relationship for this project, and I'm giving you a heads up in the future, this is the type of a rate that you can expect.' That turns a price increase from an imposition into a favour.
Another strategy is to raise your prices, but not raise them as high for your current customers—and let them know. Typically, customers who are expecting discount rates will fall away, and customers who value your work will be happy that they're getting a break and willing to pay the new rates.
Hear us out.
We hope you enjoyed our series on how to become a premium business, and that it helps you take your company to the next level.
Like you, we want to offer premium service—so we created an audio version of this article you can listen to right here, in your service vehicle, or on your morning run. If you want to download the audio to play on the device of your choice, scroll past the video below for a download link.
Need help? These simple tutorials will show you how to add the MP3 to your iOS or Google devices.