Raising prices always is a potential problem for losing clients, but 2 things you can hope for are:
a) client loyalty
b) still having a competitive price
If your price increase will bring you up to what others charge, you shouldn't have a problem.
However, if your clients can go to someone else for less, they might. The only way they would stick around in that situation is loyalty or laziness (depending on how much money we are talking about).
How to write them a letter? I wouldn’t. I am assuming you live in the North, and you have them sign a contract from like March-October. In which case, next time you sign a contract with them, tell them in person (or over the phone) that prices will go up.
I believe I would go with Capt, I would assume you get a written contract to protect you from law suits and to protect the peoples rights also.
When you send out the contract, merely have the new price in place.
People would expect price increases in all things. Now of course expect to lose a few people, My mower for example has increaed his prices so I shoped my mowing out and got it cheaper than his old price by a firm that does a lot of my other neighbors already.
So not only does a new year mean that someone else may move in and advertise in the paper, by leaving door hangers and just beat you out of business. But some people just ever so often bid out a lot of services, internet service, telephone, car insurance and so on are all bidded out at times, I do most at least every two years.
And of course a price increase may cause some to shop around that would not have anyway.
If you don't use a contract, do you carry liabity insurance, ( i.e. mower throws rock though house window or car window, you knock over and break the concrete bird bath or yard item. If you do be sure and sell your professional service. If you use high speed mowers, or always include triming, besure and always sell your good points.
My mower a few years back, put a rock right though my very large three pain gas sealed picture window. About 800 to replace. I ended up sueing him in court when he did not want to pay for the damage, I don't think he stopped mowing after that.
I also would not do it in a letter, but before the season was ready, I would go by and visit each of them and merely disucss their mowing needs, ask them what they want done this year, try to sell more service, like mulching, some land scaping, maybe chemicals added. Then a small increase in mowing will never be noticed in the new contract.
Best way to increase price is to increase all of the service for more money in general
Think about what you can add to your service or what benefit(s) you can provide to your customers to seemingly offset the price increase. Something that won't cost you but is easy enough and beneficial to your clients.
If it is that you do not use contract with language built in that addresses price increases from time to time then you explain in person is the jist of it. Not only is it more personable and respecatable but it also somewhat puts client on the spot in seeing your situation. :) You could write it somewhat as you explained to us... "..due to gas price increase and product price increases i have to change the price of regular lawn service price."
.. Regardless if you loose some business over it, don't fret cause there is plenty of fish in the sea. If you regularly gain all the business that you approach than for sure your charging too low a rate anyway. Know what percentage is decent for your field. In long run you will come to appreciate making more money through better paying loyal customers that know the value of your service. You'll have more free time with family or to build business that much more...
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