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To Surcharge or Not to Surcharge

Picture of a cash bag with the word Surcharge and a red up arrow
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Business owners remain terribly aware of the disruptive nature of our economy during the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. While some businesses were able to fall back onto digital infrastructures or on carryout and delivery services, costs have still outpaced revenue in most cases. Things have and unfortunately will remain tight in most sectors for quite some time. But as economies continue to phase open in communities, some businesses have begun adding a new take onto an old idea onto their customer’s receipts.  

Beginning with some restaurants and later moving onto salons, dentist offices, and even tattoo parlors: some businesses have taken to adding an extra surcharge to customer’s bills to help mitigate the increased cost and loss of revenue. While this may help with some short-term woes it is important to think about the position that your customers are in and your long-term strategies when considering going this route yourself. It wise to remember that your customers have also been impacted by Covid-19 and may have less discretionary income for good and services. Further, some number of customers are bound to see any price hike as a betrayal: a feeling which could last for a long time after we can truly return to something resembling “normalcy”. 

This is certainly one of those instances where a business owner must balance the risks and rewards of tactical (short-term) and strategic {long-term) planning. While business owners, analysts, and customers continue to debate whether Covid surcharges are a wise move be sure, no matter which direction you choose, be upfront with your customers because nobody likes to find out that their product or service cost them more than they were expecting. 

Learn more: 

Online Articles:


Antidipate the Art of Leading by Looking Ahead by Rob-Jan De Jong bookcoverDe Jong, Rob-Jan. Anticipate: The Art of Leading by Looking Ahead. New York: AMACOM, 2015. (Hoopla: Ebook and Audiobook) 

Krupp, Steven and Paul J. H. Schoemaker. Winning the Long Game: How Strategic Leaders Shape the Future. New York: Public Affairs, 2014. (Hoopla Audiobook)

Ed Koltonski

Edward Koltonski is the Business & Investment Center librarian. To schedule an appointment, call 330-744-8636 or email the Business & Investment Center librarian at