Many years ago I was at a John Stazko seminar, and he advised us to raise our grooming rates a small amount each year. He said if you wait several years between rate hikes, you have to bump them up a substantial amount, and people will complain.
Like most groomers, I dislike implementing rate hikes. It's awkward. It's difficult. People don't like it. Last year I raised my rates $3. A few customers complained. I may have lost a few more because of it. Mostly it was fine. I currently charge a small amount more than the local competition, so I was tempted to not do a rate increase this year. But Mr. Stazko's voice was echoing in my ear.
I waited until summer, when business was booming, and I raised my prices $1.00. My book keeper, who is also a customer, said, "That's dumb, you should raise it more than that, make it a round number." But I stuck to my guns. And you know what? Almost every single customer has laughed when I informed them of the change.
It has gone something like this, "How much do I owe you today?" I smile and say, "Today is $--. We have implemented a one dollar increase." Customer looks at me quizzically, then chuckles. I chuckle with them. Sometimes they say something like, "I think I can handle that." It's all good.
Thank you, Mr. Stazko, for sharing this wisdom. I will repeat this process next summer. I like making customers laugh.