Pricing products and services is difficult for any new business owner. Though it might seem to be a simple equation, that’s hardly the case. There are quite a few factors which go into setting your price or prices. Even within industries that buy from manufacturers to sell directly to consumers, there are variables from one vendor to another. Location is part of pricing, not just distance, but also demand and population.

Services aren’t much different in this respect. Let’s say that you’re a dietitian, and you work with various doctors, hospitals, and gyms over a large geographic region. You travel quite a bit, so you go from big cities to rural communities. Chances are excellent you’ll charge more for your professional services in the metropolitan area than you will in sparsely populated rural areas.

How to Set Business Product and Service Prices

One important aspect to keep in mind when setting prices for goods and/or services, is they are promises to your customers. A price reflects value and consumers are careful about which products and/or services they choose. This means that price, while a very important factor, isn’t the only consideration consumers take into account when purchasing. For instance, a big bag of individually wrapped chips complete with select flavors is priced for $6.99. Next to it is a generic store brand priced at $4.99. Based solely on price, you’d opt to save $2 and go with the store brand. After all, you’ll save money and the chips will taste the same.

Price is the most important factor in determining profit. Yet countless businesses fail to get their pricing strategy right. The price you charge for your products or services is directly related to your Cost of Goods (labor & materials to produce the product/service), your overhead and the competition or demand. Your focus needs to be on your desired Gross Margin. Price is a major way you communicate your firm’s value in the marketplace. Yet many small business owners set prices arbitrarily or sheepishly follow the crowd. —Bloomberg Business

Now as you wind your way through the grocery store you visit the meat department. Inside the display case there are four ready-to-cook hamburger patties made mouthwatering with fresh bacon bits and cheese and is priced at $12.49. Right across the aisle in the frozen section there’s a 10-count box of plain, frozen hamburgers for $9.99. Suddenly, saving $2.50 doesn’t seem worthwhile and you splurge because the fresh, mouthwatering ready-to-cook hamburgers are simply irresistible.

The point, of course, is perceived value — you’ll have to base your business’ product and service prices on their value. However, that’s just one factor of many others which go into pricing. Here are some steps you can take to help you set the right price:

  • Learn about demand in your area. No matter how wonderful your product or service might be, if there’s no demand for it in the area, it won’t sell. Think about the old sales joke, “Selling ketchup popsicle sticks to customers in white gloves.” Obviously, people wearing white gloves have no need for such a mess. The same holds true for demand in your area. If you’re selling snow shovels, it’s should be to consumers in climates where it snows.
  • Check out competitors’ pricing. This is a simple way of learning what consumers will pay for a product or service. Of course, you should only rely on established prices by flourishing businesses.
  • Always factor-in costs. There’s no getting around the fact that it costs money to run a business. Even freelancer contractors have operating costs. For brick-and-mortar operations, there’s rent, utilities, insurance, inventory, employee pay and benefits, and other costs.
  • Be willing to discount. One way retailers sell products is by offering discounts. This is a great strategy, if it doesn’t wipe-out your margin, or it’s a one-time deal to establish a relationship for future business.
  • Don’t undercut simply to attract business. A big mistake that some new to business make is to undercut competitor pricing, only to learn the hard way they can’t deliver. After all, it does no good to attract business if customers aren’t receiving what they expect.

Pricing is a science and an art. The science is an equation based on your Labor + Materials (Cost of Goods) divided by your desired Margin or divisor. If you desire a 40% Gross Profit Margin (the amount left over after you cover your Labor and Materials), then your divisor is 60% and not a 40% markup. Using a 60% divisor based off your Cost of Goods will yield a 40% Gross Profit Margin. A mistake many businesses make is to mark up their Cost of Goods which yields a lesser Gross Profit Margin closer to 28%. We call this “Profit by Accident”. Because it is feasible to guarantee your business makes a profit, we developed our “Profit by Design” strategy.

Contact us for a complimentary consultation to review your pricing strategy and learn more about “Profit by Design”.

Now, what about the art of pricing? The art is in the research, testing, creative marketing and demand for your product or service and how you promote its value. The art is in your ability to pivot and massage all of the components (labor, materials, overhead, marketing, value, customer perception, etc.) to work together. Combined, you will develop a pricing strategy that proves out in your bottom line profits and more money in your pockets!

Pricing is a delicate balance, but with some research and a bit of critical thinking, you’ll be able to set prices for your business’ products and/or services.

Do you know and understand your pricing strategy, or is yours Profit by Accident?