The Value of Price Meetings

Recently, I presented pricing data to a client company and some of its franchisees as part of a pricing review. We had a good discussion about restaurant pricing that day, and with that experience fresh in my mind, I figured this would be a good opportunity to share some thoughts on why–and how–restaurant operators should hold pricing meetings.

It’s tempting to simply compile data, crunch numbers and make decisions at the corporate level about pricing, then follow up by communicating decisions or suggested retail price lists. But it’s also important to build a step into the process to review data with franchisees or company-store managers and corporate field team members to gather input. This information-sharing is invaluable for all groups, especially when it’s not the norm.

There are numerous benefits to such meetings. If corporate conducts analysis without taking the time to review data and findings, the due diligence can go unrecognized and underestimated by those not privy to details.

Franchisees and company store managers provide an up-close view of the market that might otherwise go un-noticed. Sharing pricing data helps eliminate opinion-based arguments. Having a dedicated meeting allows stakeholders to focus on important topics that are invariably given too little agenda time at larger meetings. And, finally, building consensus is easier when more of the vested parties participate in the process.

But what should a pricing meeting look like?

The following guidelines will contribute to an effective meeting.

Keep it Legal: Start with a disclaimer and insist on complying with an antitrust law. Do not tolerate discussion about setting prices, and consult your attorney about how to manage the conversation to avoid inappropriate topics and focus on analysis and findings.

Invite Key Stakeholders: This includes those who set the best example as well as naysayers and squeaky wheels in the system. Include franchisees or company-owned store management, and a cross-functional, geographically representative group of field team members.

Present Data Effectively: Keep the information digestible by using charts and graphs to highlight research and using lay terminology. I often hear the term “eyes glazing over” in association with pricing data. Make it your goal to avoid that, and keep many presentations on hand from high-level summaries to detailed charts. Begin by summarizing findings using selected graphs and delve into further detail after reviewing the summary findings. If any attendees want to delve even further, use the additional presentations to meet these requests.

Seek Input: Use the meeting as a chance to understand what’s on stakeholders’ minds and use their knowledge and experience to your benefit. Prepare questions so you can gain certain insight. Some helpful ones include: What are their biggest pricing challenges? What support do they wish they had? How have they approached pricing decisions? What tools would assist them in making decisions? What’s happening in their market at key competitor brands?

With proper preparation, a pricing meeting will leave all participants feeling that attending was time well-spent.

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