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Is the Price Right?

Pricing products or services to maximize profits is a challenge -- often part art and part science. To do so effectively requires research, an understanding of your market, and an intuitive feel for what will work. Getting it right, however, is critical if your business is to be profitable. There are several important issues that you must factor into any decisions you make on setting prices for your goods or services.

Start by Identifying Your Costs

Whether you have an online business or operate out of a physical property, sell inexpensive or high-end goods, or provide professional services, you will still encounter numerous expenses each day. You will be unable to price your services or goods accurately if you do not understand what your total costs are. There are a variety of components that make up your total costs, which include:

  • The cost of materials and merchandise
  • Your labor costs, including salaries and benefits
  • Your overhead costs, including mortgage/rent, taxes, utilities, insurance, transportation, and marketing/advertising

Knowing how much you need to charge just to cover your total costs is a key step in setting prices. However, your costs do not remain fixed. They change, and when they do, you will have to reevaluate what you are charging your customers. That is an ongoing process.

Understand Your Customer Base

Customers are driven to buy by a variety of factors and emotions. Some customers are acutely price sensitive. They have limited spending power and always consider price. Other customers want convenience over anything else. For them, the availability of concierge services, home delivery, and in-store pickup are important considerations when choosing a vendor. And certain people focus on the implied exclusivity or the status attached to buying and experiencing a product or service. You can more easily refine your pricing structure once you identify what type of customer you are targeting.

Identify Your Competitors

You will be more successful in positioning your business in the marketplace once you determine what your competitors are charging for similar services and goods. Do competitors emphasize low prices or superior service? Do they promote their knowledgeable staffers or the exclusivity of the goods they offer? Once you understand where you stand in relation to your competitors, you may be better able to leverage service, for example, as a value proposition that can permit you to charge higher prices than your competitors.

Explore Other Opportunities to Generate Revenue

Look beyond a single sale or service to see if there are additional ways to drive revenue. Consider making it beneficial for customers to buy larger quantities of a product by dangling discounts based on the quantity ordered. Are there opportunities to sell service contracts, options, and add-ons to a basic service or product, perhaps by offering several packages at different prices?

Pay Attention to Macro and Micro Issues

Small business owners always face factors that may threaten the viability of their businesses. The reality is that what happens in the larger world will affect your business in multiple ways. Significant hikes in your costs for labor, gasoline, and materials as well as the costs associated with supply chain issues will mean that you have to revisit your current pricing. You'll want to continuously monitor your prices and your profitability. Understanding which products and services are profitable and which ones are not allows you to make data-driven decisions about pricing.

An experienced financial professional can assist you with your business strategy and planning.