How to Charge an Upscale Price Without Upsetting Your Patrons

So, there I was. I had just arrived in Florida for a weekend getaway and checked into my hotel. The bad news was that it was getting late, and I was getting hungry.

The good news was that my hotel had an in-house restaurant, and it was a premium steak house. I knew it was upscale because the waiters each had on white jackets, that resembled a lab coat, and the chef cooked the meal right in front of you.

I began to salivate, as I whipped out my phone and added the picture of a 9-ounce filet mignon to my electronic ATI goal poster!

If I wanted to achieve my goal, I had three options: ordering room service, dining in house, or going out back to get the leftovers!

Each option came with a different price, starting with the leftovers being free! This was no surprise. What surprised me was that dining in-house was more expensive than ordering room service. I wrestled with the following question:

Why would I pay a different price, for the same meal? And then it hit me: the steak house wasn’t really selling the steak. If they were, all three options would have been priced the same.

They were selling the experience. 

During the 90 minutes I spent in the restaurant, I never overheard the following statement: “I can go to Outback and get this much cheaper!” Since the patrons received an upscale experience, they weren’t upset about paying the higher price.

Are you selling an upscale experience at your shop? If you answered no, you’re probably frustrated by the fact that you’re fielding price complaints.

Keep reading so you can ease your frustrations by discovering how to charge an upscale price without upsetting your patrons.

Ideas to grow your businessWant to learn more ways to delight your customers and establish a new normal that fills your bays? Discover valuable tips and strategies in ATI’s free webinar.

Establish a New Normal

While interviewing a service manager candidate last week, I asked him if he had any questions. He stumped me with the following inquiry: “When was the last time you received ‘5-star service’ from your auto repair provider?”

As I thought about it, I could recall times where they solved the problem I came in for. I could even remember when the service was completed on time as promised.

Of course, I had plenty of memories of the bad experiences where the shop over-promised and under-delivered.

To this day, I can’t recall a recent experience where I was so delighted that I gave the shop a 5-star review and referral without them asking me to.

Ten years ago, the norm for customer service was doing what the customer expected you to do. Greeting them, fixing the problem they came in for, and meeting the promised time for the job, are examples of minimum expectations.

This is merely customer satisfaction.

The key to charging an upscale price without upsetting your patrons is to move from customer satisfaction to customer delight. Customer delight must become your new normal.

Examples from Your World

Customer Service: Acknowledging your customer at the counter within seven seconds.

Customer Delight: Sending your shuttle driver to pick them up, having the driver communicate with the writer via walkie talkie, and then having the writer greet the new customer by name.

Customer Service: Having the cashier take the customer’s money, give them their keys, and wish them farewell.

Customer Delight: Having a written “kiss goodbye process” that includes, a welcome gift, a welcome pamphlet, a mystery envelope offering a prize for their return visit, and pictures of the digital health inspection.

Customer Service: Calling your first time customer to remind them of their next appointment.

Customer Delight: Sending them a personally signed welcome letter, that thanks them for their business, explains what makes you different, and informs them of your desire to be their mechanic for life.

If the chef had given me the leftovers at the back door but charged me for in-house dining, I would have been upset because what I paid for didn’t match the experience I received.

Imagine how your customer feels when she pays to be delighted but is merely satisfied.


So, there you have it. Moving from customer satisfaction to customer delight will allow you to charge an upscale price without upsetting your patrons.

If you apply this philosophy, I may fly to your shop, leave you a 5-star review, and treat you to a steak dinner at an upscale restaurant!

For more tips on how to bring customers to your shop and plan your shop’s comeback, check out our free webinar.