Price increases, sadly, are an inevitable part of running a club. Inflation, running costs, low member numbers, large or unexpected outlays, are all factors when it comes setting club fees, and will continue to impact the figure set.
It goes without saying that the fees you charge need to cover your club outgoings and expenses, all of which can rise without warning at any time. And an important part of your club management is the ability to cope with price hikes.
The aim of this post is to help you manage price increases and how to communicate an increase to your members.
Identifying The Need To Raise Prices
Running costs, expenses, refurbishments and equipment, significant outlays…the list of demands on your club finances can seem endless. The perfect scenario will be to have more than enough paying members to cover all your club outgoings, with a nice sized buffer to keep you in the black. But what if that pool of members declines or your outgoings rise significantly and you find your club coffers are beginning to look a little empty?
In an ideal world we would be able to anticipate price rises before they have an impact on the finances. Sound accounting practises and a firm grip on spending and income will help you identify potential shortfalls in funding before they happen or before they have a significant impact.
Your membership database system should help you track your fee collections and reconcile them with your accounts. PaySubsOnline.com goes one step further and forecasts your income too – calculating future income based on your members financial commitment. For example, monthly fees, recurring donations and instalment payments.
Of course the difficulty can be identifying just how much of a shortfall you are facing and how to tell your members the fees are going up.
Calculating The Rise
At this point it is important to stress that raising your club fees merely to increase revenues is never good practice. The need to increase membership fees should always come in conjunction with the need to meet a set goal. Keeping fees at a level acceptable to your members should always be key and must always go in hand with the objective of increasing member numbers.
Calculating rises could be down to many factors, but I have discussed the 3 most common below:
- To support price increases in running costs, services and offerings: this can include utilities, volunteer expenses, insurance, licenses, administration. Rising running costs should be anticipated well in advance and many service providers, such as utility companies, will inform you of price rises in advance. Anticipated cost rises can be calculated using historical data and membership fee rises can be applied well in advance.
- To help support the growth of the club: investment in new equipment, buildings and marketing can
all have an impact on your finances. If major investment is required then the shortfall should be calculated and fees raised in order to meet it. This on it’s own is not always the best way to raise money for significant outlay. Further fundraising efforts may be required to ensure you hit your target. Check-out these 8 easy fundraising ideas from an earlier blog post.
- As part of a regular annual increase: this is the best way to head off a shortfall in your finances ahead of predicted rises in running costs. And it is probably the easiest way to raise prices without upsetting your members.
Price rises are often better received when they are small regular rises, rather than large, infrequent rises so think long term with your pricing strategy. A 5% increase a year is much more stomachable than raising the price of membership by 20% every 3- 4 years.
Communicating The Rise To Members
You have a couple of options when it comes to telling your members about fee increases:
- Through renewal notices which can be automatically sent via your membership software.
- Through a member wide communication, such as email or newsletter and notice displayed in your club building.
If your price increase is not due to regular/annual increases, then you should consider offering justification for the rise. And if you can’t explain the rise in clear and concise terms, then it is best not to even try – the last thing you want is to be seen as struggling to justify it. If you are happy your members value what the club offers then you may feel justifying the rise is not necessary, in which case mentioning the increase will suffice.
Planning Future Price Rises
I have touched on future proofing price rises earlier on, but the importance of forecasting cannot be stressed enough. If your members expect price increases, they will be more amenable to paying them once they fall due. What you need to ensure is that your members continue to consider your club as offering them real value for their fees.
How you manage price rises can be integral to the future growth of your club. Get it wrong and you could see members leaving in their droves. Get it right and you will continue to attract new members and keep your club finances in the black.
With PaySubsOnline.com, members can pre-authorise future payments to the club which means if their is an increase in fees, you can still collect what’s due automatically – perfect for managing the collection of memberships that renew automatically.