Cheaper Prices Don’t Build Goodwill

By Dan Boudreau

You’ll never build goodwill by under-charging your customers. Those new to business are prone to undervaluing their products and services. This is one of the great pitfalls when starting a new business.

Whether from insecurity or just not knowing the costs, new business owners tend to want to shower their customers in great value by charging less than the other guys. Aside from the fact that undercutting is a sure recipe for going broke, it invariably leads to problems down the road when you want to increase your prices.

  • Once customers are used to your low prices, it’s difficult to train them to pay more, and you are sure to lose a few when you increase your rates.
  • Customers who have received your goods at lower prices tend to think you’re cheating them when you start to charge more.
  • When you do begin to push your prices upward, you are bound to lose a few of the old customers who were just along for the free ride.

If you underrate your goods, your customers are almost certain to downgrade them too. A well intentioned deal might be perceived as worth a bit less, but you don’t want the customer thinking your services are completely worthless.

As a new business owner, one of the first pricing decisions you’ll make is to decide whether you really want to compete on price. If your strategy is to compete mainly on price, keep in mind that a large competitor will almost always crush a smaller business like a bug. Deeper pockets always prevail when price wars occur.

Here are a few suggestions for anyone tangling with the issue of pricing.

  1. Decide whether you want to be the cheapest, the fastest, or the best. Pick any two; trying to be all three is a sure recipe for going broke.
  2. When you’re setting your prices or rates, learn how much your competitors are charging and then position your prices where you want them to be. You don’t have to charge a lot less than the other guys to be perceived as giving a better deal.
  3. When it comes to providing a service, you will need to determine a value for your time. If you’re transitioning from a role as an employee to become self-employed, it’s important to remember that your hourly charge-out rate now needs to be much higher to help cover the cost of operating your business.
  4. Instead of simply attempting to undercut your competitors, find ways to provide more value to your customers; sometimes it makes more sense to compete by offering higher quality, or better service.
  5. If you’re already in business and your prices are too low, it may be time to begin to ratchet them up a bit. Be prepared to lose customers who refuse to adjust. In some cases, you may feel a shameless sense of relief as the more tenacious hagglers head off to buy from your competition.

When all is said and done, business owners need to pay the bills and earn a living. If your prices are too low to achieve these two goals, it may be time to increase your prices or consider winding down the business.

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