There’s no escaping that in the current climate costs are increasing — Russia’s war with Ukraine has caused worldwide concern about global oil supplies and has resulted in a rise in petrol prices; extreme weather events have created food shortages and escalated prices; wages will be forced up in response to rises in the general cost of living; taxes are likely to increase as state and territory governments respond to strike action by big unions; and we’re in the midst of a global pandemic where we’ve yet to work out its long-term impact on the economy and inflation… to name just a few!
In Australia, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is one of the indicators used to evaluate levels of inflation in the Australian economy. In the last 12 months inflation in the health sector increased by 3.5%, increasing by 2.3% in the last quarter alone (December 2021 to March 2022). Despite this increase, business owners in the allied health and massage space are typically reluctant to raise their prices, instead choosing to selflessly absorb the increase in running costs for as long as they can until they are left with no choice but to charge more for their services.
Being the time of year when business owners sit down and start working on the next financial year’s budget, perhaps now is the ideal time to pass these costs on to your customers.
“I know it sounds a bit simplistic but if the cost of providing the service increases, the actual cost of the service needs to likewise, otherwise your sustainability of operations will be at risk. The consumer will understand, they are smarter than you think.”
Antony Hirst — physiotherapy-specific business advisor, Chair of the Physiotherapy Business Association in Victoria and Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) presenter
An increase in the cost of your service is never going to please your customers and it’s understandable that you may be reluctant to increase your prices for fear that doing so will put you at a competitive disadvantage and you will lose customers. After all, you pride yourself on providing an exceptional service and using quality products, both of which provide unforgettable customer experiences, and you’ve built up a loyal customer base.
However, choosing when to tell them is crucial and it won’t get much better than at the start of a new financial year, particularly when a large amount of media coverage is being dedicated to inflation.
Clients are often unaware of the running costs of a clinic, so use this as an opportunity to mention some of the free products and services you provide that are simply taken for granted — compression socks, additional hygiene products, professional advice, etc.
Explaining the additional costs that you’re now having to incur will help to justify your price increase — make sure the examples you use are costs that are somewhat out of your control, like the ones we’ve just mentioned. Your customers will appreciate you being honest and upfront, and know that at least some of the price increase will not end directly in your pocket.
“…a business needs the courage to increase its own prices during periods of high inflation — an action that doesn’t come easily to most small business owners who often believe they can hold on in the face of rising costs by reducing profit margin. Sadly, many only see the folly of not passing on significant cost increases to their customers when it is too late and either run out of cash or go broke.”
Peter Strong — former chief executive of the Council of Small Business of Australia (‘What can small businesses do about inflation?’)
Planning and Notice
Providing your customers with plenty of prior notice of a price increase is also important, as well as pre-drafting responses to any anticipated comments so you are not caught off guard.
This can be done with notices in your waiting rooms, posting on your socials, by email or even via text message, or simply mentioning it when your client is booking their next appointment.
Stand Out From Your Competitors
Have you thought about adding value that clients can benefit from in other ways?
If everyone was to offer the same thing, then that product or service soon becomes the basic minimum, or the expected norm in the market. You need to find that differentiator so that your customers perceive you and your offering as being superior to that of your competitors. A better-quality product could be just the ticket.
Convey to your customers that while you’re increasing your prices, you want to reward them for their loyalty and so you’re taking this opportunity to switch from your current paper or terry towelling products to a new product that’s just come on to the market.
Justifying a more expensive rate is easier when you simultaneously provide additional value — customers will be more willing to accept a price increase if it’s accompanied by noticeable improvements to your products and/or service.
Our somewhat biased advice is to provide an improved hygienic environment that will be immediately visible to your customers. Using both our BodyShield and FaceShield as standard practice will not only achieve this but will also improve the professionalism and reputation of your clinic. An increased price of $3 or $4 will more than cover the cost and based on our market research, could even increase your word-of-mouth referrals.
Market research shows that customers prefer our BodyShield!
Raising your prices may be a daunting prospect but getting paid your worth and improving a service is one of the best feelings in the world.
It’s Not All Bad
As a multi-award-winning business, Purifas has remained steadfastly committed to providing a range of fit-for-purpose hygiene solutions for therapy professionals that offers unrivalled clinical protection and comfort, which is why we are excited and proud to announce the launch of the long-awaited BodyShield and BodyShield Dispenser.
Two new and innovative pillowcases have been added to the Purifas® range of hygiene solutions for therapy professionals — a single-use recyclable pillowcase that acts as a physical barrier, reducing the transmission of pathogens from client to pillow and vice versa, and a reusable pillowcase that can be sanitised between clients simply by wiping with an antibacterial wipe.
After four years of extensive consultation with consumers, primary and community healthcare providers and other key stakeholders, The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare released the Primary and Community Healthcare Standards – the first nationally consistent safety and quality standards.