The voters of Washington State have decided to increase the minimum wage to $11.00 an hour starting January 1, 2017. Washington has been known for having one of the highest minimum wages in the U.S. and after this vote passed their is no question that Washington State has the highest minimimum wage in the land.
Whats The Cost
This $1.53 increase in wages has a bigger impact on Washington state then most recognize. An increase this big in wages puts a strain on every business owner in Washington, and pushes businesses to counter this increase in employee wages. To do that, most businesses are forced to increase prices to help soften the blow, but when prices increase with small, or family owned businesses it causes a PR nightmare.
Ellensburg, WA is home to many local family owned businesses and branches of global corporations that have been pushed in to PR nightmares. These companies are taking action and increasing the prices of their products. This increase in minimum wage was bigger then the last three increases that Washington State has seen and has caused the prices of goods to jump higher then ever before. One local family owned business knew this nightmare could lead to the loss of regular customers and an increase in bad PR from customers online, but has come up with a plan to fight this PR nightmare head on.
Winegars Homemade Ice Cream and Coffee
Winegars is a family owned business that has operated in Ellensburg sense 1949 and has seen their fair share of increases in wages. This year is different because it is such a considerable increase that it has caused Winegars to take action faster then ever before. Co Owner Kori Winegars came out with a plan that would take effect the first of the year and made sure to share his plan with the 36 employees that work for Winegars.
Kori knows he has to increase product prices to battle the mandatory increase in minimum wage, but has to come up with a plan to keep customers happy. Most companies have done one time price increase instead of increasing prices over time. Kori decided to increase the prices of products in small increments over the next nine months. He thinks this will help fight the PR crisis that a price increase brings with it.
The first increase started on the first of the year and was an increase of $.25 on all products. Kori plans to continue to increase prices by this amount until he has made up the extra money spent on the minimum wage increase. He believes this method will help with negative PR towards the company and help the customers adjust to the price increase.
Kori went to the next level and came up with a script for the employees to use when customers ask or complain about the increase of prices. He does not blame the minimum wage going up but talks about how Winegars has not had a price increase in two years and the cost of doing business with other companies has increased as well.
Kori believes with his plan he will be able to maintain their positive PR in Ellensburg, but will also be able to increase their popularity because of how they are approaching this PR nightmare.