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The Friends and Family Discount Dilemma

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Awkward. Uncomfortable. Ungenerous.

That’s what most of us feel when we get asked for the friends and family discount and we haven’t created a clear policy to handle it.

If you say no-go, you may feel like a selfish money monger. If you say sure-thing, you may feel resentful or turn down much needed revenue for your business.

So what’s the answer?

You’ve got a few options and thankfully, they’re all classy, straightforward and customizable.

In today’s episode of MarieTV, I’ll show you three different strategies to use, including word-for-word scripts, to set clear policies and forever avoid the awkward friends and family discount dilemma.

WARNING: Ridiculously cute dog alert. Dougie, a tiny pants Chihuahua, guest stars in this episode.  Click play and watch it now.

Now I’d love to hear from all you women entrepreneurs out there. Do people ask you for the friends and family discount? How do you handle it?

If you have stories or strategies to share, leave a comment below. And before I forget, I’ve got two important things to share.

1.  If you’re a fan of our crazy fun music videos, you can find them all on this brand new page.

2.  We’re nominated for a Shorty Award as a videoblogger and if you can spare a tweet, you’ll help us win! Click here to vote with a simple tweet.

Make sure you include the #videoblogger hashtag in your tweet. Among others, we’re up against a Groundhog, another puppet and Justin Bieber’s DJ.

I think we can win this sucka so thanks again for your support as I continue to campaign!

Marie Forleo

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Read the comments or Add yours

L'Erin Alta

Hey Marie!

Thanks for the vid, as usual. I don’t offer a f&f discount either but I want to be able to give my loved ones and close friends some kind of benefit. So, if needed, I offer them flexible (yet firm) payment plans. This makes it clear that they’re definitely still hiring me and paying full rate, but I’m willing to create a payment schedule that works for them.

I get paid, they’re not put out, and they get my fabulous services– it’s a win-win all around!

ox

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marie

Great work L’Erin ;)

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Erika Jones

Marie, Tuesday’s are such a treat! Love, love your videos. Looking forward to seeing you speak and rock it out this week at the GKIC Business Makeover event!

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marie

I’m pumped to meet you there Erika!

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Femme

Definitely something very, very prevalent here in the Philippines where family ties are super strong. I’ve seen friends having dilemma on this issue. Worse case scenario, your relatives even sometimes want you to do it for free! Another issue would be they’d recommend you to a client and that relative’s friend would also ask for a discount which is definitely not good for your business. Good thing I cater to online clients. :D

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marie

Good for you for finding your clients online :)

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Vicky Lyashenko

Marie, I am a future entrepreneur, but my dad owned a business since I was little. He gave discounts to friends and family and it really hurt his business. Some relatives really have no boundaries. They “hook” up their extended family and friends with their family discount. It is unfair and very selfish. My dad still offers discounts to family but it’s to a limited few and they know the policy. It’s a product based business so I think it’s a little easier to draw the line. I also think some people expect a discount withough even thinking about being selfish and rude. They just haven’t ever though about it. You, Marie are educating people about this kinda stuff and I thank you! There are so many people, like myself, who do not own a business but are totally hooked on you! Sending you my love! <3 xoxo

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marie

Thank you Vicky! I really appreciate what you shared. I believe that we all (business owners or not) need to think and operate like the CEO of our own life. As our global economy is growing and changing, employees who think like entrepreneurs will always get the best jobs, with the highest salaries and have the most satisfaction in work and life. Sending you love right back!

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Anne R.

“Jenerous” = “Jenius” Marie! Love it. Photographers deal with this ALL the time. Another technique we use when we decide to “gift” a portion of our service is to invoice for the full amount, and then on the invoice we put a “$$00 Gift from Photog (for always being there when I need you most)” or something to that extent.

I think it’s spot on that you mentioned people have a hard time charging their friends and family- which is where so many people screw themselves over and don’t take into account their business expenses and how it actually COSTS them real dollar bills cash money to give away time that could be invested where there’s a higher return.

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marie

Great tip to include the gifted service in the invoice!

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Leigh

I’ve hired a photographer who is a friend and he included the discount on the invoice. As a client, I thought it was super-smart of him so that I stay educated on what the going-rate is. When he moved away and I had to start looking for a new photographer, I knew what the cost would be w/o the discount and had a benchmark.

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Anne R.

So great to hear the perception from a client’s perspective! Thanks for sharing Leigh!

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Megan Heaney

Hey Marie, top notch advice! First of all being clear in your mind about why you are doing something is definitely key – is this something you’re doing to get paid or are you just doing it to help a friend? My experience is if you’re clear about what the purpose is from the get go then it’s stress free!
And scheduling a day for your family and friends projects is by far the best way to do it.
It’s like pricing for any job – if you are clear in your mind about what you offer and what you charge then it’s easy. If you’re unclear then it’s stress central!

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marie

Love this Megan! That clarity for YOU is key. Nice.

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Caroline

Great video – I do give friends and family discounts but I’m very clear on who actually qualifies. The family part is obvious but the friends part isn’t always. I’ve defined it as direct colleagues who I refer clients to and vice versa and friends that I actually see in my spare time – not just people I happen to have known before they were clients or extended colleagues etc.
At the moment I feel that this works for me because I do also want to give back in a way that shows my appreciation for them and what they bring me. However, the discount still makes it worth my while – it’s not free.

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Lana M.

Nice video, Marie. As for me, I don’t have set rates, I price by the project. Since I’m a publicist I can charge what I feel. As for friends and family, mostly friends, I tell them an exuberant price that they “could” pay for PR, then I tell them my rate.

Another method I like to use is to ask, “What is your budget? What have you set aside just for this project?” This gets them to thinking and it also lays the foundation for me to know where their minds are at.

Low budget = low services (quantity not quality).

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marie

What’s your budget is a great question – thanks for adding it here.

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Ameena Falchetto

Great advice! NEVER give your trade for free … and yes say NOOOOO!

Working for free is what I call “Business Sluttery” and yes, it’s no good for ANYONE involved!!!

Yes, I have had friends pay my full rate … That’s what I’m worth!

Love the pricing video Marie – it’s a topic I love, love, love!

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Theresa

Great advice! Glad I learned this in advance…will definitely be honest and clear with my F&F policy and even block off special time IF that is the route I choose to take in the near future.

Great! A to the Q.

“T”

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Lauryn Doll

Great video, as usual!

I deal with this dilemma in several ways. One of the first times I was referrred service for website design and development, my dad said “Don’t take advantage of this person!” And I didn’t. I just came in, did my job and told him the suggested rate for the service. He paid the middle amount, and I was quite pleased. Since then, I’ve had no problem adjusting my rates for his sites – and his wife’s, all of which I’ve built since then – and taking the money. Recently, I’ve gotten referrals that are not only so low they make no sense, but from people who may honestly not understand they’re better off doing it all themselves if most people take that rate.

I guess this would be a GREAT follow-up for Q&A Tuesday: How do you deal with cheap referrals from well-meaning family members? As in, your friends and family refer you for business, but when you speak with the client, the client’s budget is unrealistically low? (Your family/friends didn’t know this… they just know you could help.)

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marie

One route is to have “Rates start at $X” on your site. You put your minimum project rate in public so people know what to expect. You can also inform your friends and family of your rates so they know how to describe your services!

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Julia @ The Spotted Sparrow

I sell products rather than services which makes it a bit easier to deal with these situations. I let family purchase at wholesale prices. I still make a profit, they get a discount, everyone’s happy.

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Laura Hames Franklin

Hi Marie.

Love the ‘family’ moment in this vid :) Your points are excellent, and I totally agree.

In my experience it’s definitely a part of learning to value one’s services and time. I noticed that as soon as I knew that the F&F rate wasn’t an option, I didn’t get asked any more.

I actually think that the F&F usually ‘want’ to make sure that there is a clear exchange so that they get the best results, but often don’t know how to even talk about the topic. There are occasions where a ‘free’ demo session happens, but again, it’s just about being clear about ‘this is free’ upfront. So yeah, quit the worrying about what people will think pattern, and just be clear in what you need- which is always a good plan anyways!

And there’s always the option to do the dishes at my house! Just kidding~ kinda..! :)
Laura xo
ps. LOVE LOVE LOVE your music vids!

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marie

thank you Laura!

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Tone Bekkestad

Marie, thanx again for a great A to the Q!
I have a question for you that is closely related to the Friends&Family discount.
I sometimes get this from potential clients after sending them an offer:
“My question is if you’re willing to revise your quoted fee in line with our practice? Consider the positive spin-offs that may arise on your part.”
We’re here talking about a 75% discount!!
I do see that this job might lead to other jobs, but if everyone asks for the same discount, with the same arguments?!…
I am a lecturer.
Would love to hear your advise on this.
(The client expects to hear from me within a couple of days.)
I love, love, love your vids and the work you do!!
Xoxo, Tone

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marie

Business is about negotiation and getting the best prices for everything. So it’s not “bad” that they ask, you just have to be strategic and truly evaluate each offer. Sometimes, it will be worth your while to negotiate a deal, and sometimes it’s not. It’s about understanding your big picture goals, and knowing your key metrics!

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Priya Florence Shah

I’ve had awkward situations where friends wanted to barter services, where I did not feel like I was getting my due. I fault myself for putting myself in that spot and have learned my lesson. No bartering and no friendship discounts.

Its ok to give a discount to new clients who want to test out your services, but it helps to keep the relationship professional and make it clear that its a one-time discount only.

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Emily DeWan

(Fellow photographer here) Many photographers will gripe and moan about being taken advantage of by friends and family, but it’s definitely us who have to set the boundaries, respect our time, and treat our photography like a real business. For weddings, I have a form letter that I send to friends when they inquire. It comes down to them hiring me for the right reasons and to not feel pressure to use me. I also outline exactly what sort of discount they’ll receive (I don’t charge for travel if I would be attending the wedding regardless and I’ll add on a couple extra hours of coverage). It’s worked great so far.

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Johanna

Morning from Mattapoisett,

You make dealing with a potentially awkward situation so much easier. Haven’t had to come across this yet, but love the script and how you lay out the language of putting the word “hire” out there.

As always fabulous!
xo Johanna

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Lean Ni Chuilleanain

I’m still at a very early stage in my business, and *nearly all* of my clients so far have been friends – either long-standing friends or people I’ve built up a close relationship with online.

So I’ve set my “family and friends” rate at a level I’m happy making for now, and when I eventually start to get clients from beyond my circle, it’ll feel like a pay rise :-)

As for what I’ll do when most of my clients are *not* F&F, well, thanks for the video, Marie – lots to think about there!

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danielle

Marie,
So funny, I was just thinking about this the other day as a bunch of my friends were over and a box of my new DVD’s were sitting on the table. They all looked at me and said, “oh my god, i can’t wait to try your video.” Then they took them out of the box and started giving me compliments on the cover- GULP! I felt I no choice but to say, ” Thank you, and of course you all get one for free!”
(actual cost:$250- lesson learned: priceless)
Clearly I do have a choice, first off, to leave those darn boxes out of site when company comes over- and next time maybe send a special email before my launch to give everyone a chance to buy it at a discount- that way they will get the subtle hint that i’m not giving that little plastic box away for FREE…
AS far as in-person private yoga, I do give a 50% discount to my friends, but not at peak times. That way I’m not bummed if a full-paying client wants a premium spot and I’ve already given it away for half.
XO Danielle

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Mary

I really like your idea of sending out an email for a discount before the launch. It’s still friendly and giving close people a discount, but (OUCH!)
Not giving $250 away for free.
I think a joking ” hey, you guys want me to starve?(adorable laugh) how about a friend discount instead? would work in a tight spot.
It’s more about the way you say it sometimes- you can get away with a lot with a smile…

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danielle

thanks mary- yes, service with a smile goes a long way!

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marie

Nice work Danielle. And we ALL have *expensive* lessons. The good news here is that once you learn those lessons, you’ll never make the same mistake twice! :)

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danielle

That’s for sure.. except when faced with a pair of cute, yet uncomfortable shoes.. ; )

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Julia Rohan

Marie, seriously, I sometimes think you’re living in my building, listening to my problems and using them for Q&A Tuesdays.

I run a dog sitting/walking business and this problem hits me just about weekly. Like every weekend. I love surrounding myself with friends and family that are also dog-people but ohmygoodness – seriously – why can’t you put a little money in to the care of your pup on the weekend you decide to take off to go skiing?

Here’s how I handle it:
1. I breath. I think.
2. I say, “I love hosting Brian. He’s a great dog, you’ve done such a great job raising him. I can tell he’s really comfortable staying at Rover-Night and I know you value that. I wish I could afford to offer discounted rates, but I’m just starting out and I need to learn to respect my time early on.”

I’ve found that those friends and family that asked in the past for a discount and still booked happily write their checks and hand ‘em over with appreciation. Those that have asked for the discount but heard my reply and didn’t book haven’t asked since. And I’m okay with that! I gotta offer my tidbit of advise – it’s a lot more awkward to put your dog at your ex-boyfriend’s place for a weekend than to pay your girlfriend for a legit service they provide.

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marie

Love this!!!

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DivineYoganista

I had a friend a couple of days ago say she really wanted to offer herself a reading with me and pay for it. It felt good.

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Chas

Great advice. You gave a blueprint for this issue that is clear and concise. No muddled responses to friends and family should be activated, now.
Expanding on this issue, it also seems to be a common occurrence, even if it isn’t a friend, or family member, if you are an artist, musician, or photographer. It always amazes me when people try to bargain with you, if you are in one of these fields, but, they would never think of using the same behavior with their Doctor, Dentist, or Accountant, etc.

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Vidette Vanderweide

Hmmm, I’ve had an awkward moment or two…or three, or….we’ll, let’s just say a few!

Most of them came when I first started my business and lacked the confidence of delivering what I said I could deliver. As I gained more clients and experience, I realized that I knew much more than I gave myself credit for and it made it easier to have those awkward discussions.

Now, I’m in a place where I don’t accept trades from other professionals, and that feels SO good. I would accept them in the past then be pissed that I did…not more friends and family discounts, and no more trades…ahhhh, all is well!

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Rita

In response to Chas’s comment above, I’m an Orthodontist and Clinical Director at the University of Pennsylvania. I’ve certainly have people ask for special discounts from our department.
My brother, the Director of the Dermatologic & Cosmetic Surgery Centerin Boston has also experienced the same thing. No specialty is immune. This is true especially of our Admissions Consulting project where we help aspiring candidates get into medical, dental schools.
http://www.linkedin.com/in/ritaychuang

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Mary

Thank you for writing this! I am very surprised. I assumed that because I am a small business and the one collecting the money, delivering the goods, doing the in store promotions that people felt comfortable asking me.
I assumed also that having a receptionist or middle person prevents asking for discounts, and that I’m too friendly.
Maybe I just need firm boundaries and to be ready with my reply and not fumble and feel guilty as it’s happening…

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Theresa Reed | The Tarot Lady

My family isn’t interested in my work, thankfully. But friends have been another matter. I’ve actually had people work hard to “become” my friend so that they could get freebies. Once they start asking me to “just pull a couple of cards”, the friendship ended. I’ve had to set strong boundaries regarding my work – and I’ve had to also set strong boundaries when it comes to choosing friendships.

I have clients who want discounts, “grandfathered pricing”, and “referral programs” – dealing with this is never easy. How do you deal with the deal seekers who push you for a discount?

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Sasha

Hi Theresa,

I’ve had the same issue, but regarding services I don’t even offer. I’ve had people wanting me to teach them everything from how to build a website to how to travel around the world …. all for FREE! I don’t offer services like teaching website design or giving free travel tips and I find it irritating that so many people expect you to give away hard earned knowledge for free. And they usually start it with the “if I could pick your brain for a minute” phrase or they just dive right in with the 20 questions. I also have training in psychology and everyone wants to tell you their problems and get advice for free. I’m a writer and a researcher. If they want to know how to do these things, then they need to buy a book from me or hire me to do a training session on it.

I’m with you. I have to set very strong boundaries not only with clients, but also with people who want to befriend me … because they think that will get them free training in something down the road.

I’d love to know how to deal with the deal seekers too!

Sasha

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Melisa

I am in the beginning stages of setting up my wellness coaching business and the first person who expected it for nothing was my mother–not for only herself, but for her workplace. I told her I would be happy to make the 3 hour drive to do that—for a hefty fee. Otherwise, she could give my card to any individual person and I would be happy to do a consultation. I’ve found over the years that my family always expects ‘free’ services and it took a lot of me growing up to finally say no.

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Racheal Cook

I haven’t run into this too much but I have found myself getting into the “do you offer scholarships” conversation. And I did give a few scholarships aka let people take my program for free, only to realize that because they didn’t actually invest in themselves, they didn’t take it seriously and do the work like those who paid full price. No longer giving scholarships. Especially when I already give amazing content for free!

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Mic

“If you don’t respect your time, the people around you won’t either.” This is soo true. I’m slowly learning how to do that and you do get a different reaction from people when you’re confident about how much you value your time & services. I look forward to your lovely, lovely videos, Marie.

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Marie

If they are your friends they really want you to have a great success! So in that case just charge them double! :-D

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Vanessa Falle

I totally give a friends & family discount but it never cuts into what I MUST earn to pay my bills. My pricing for everybody is such that when I offer deals, it’s never out of pocket, it just makes my profit margin a little skinnier. I determined what it is early on n my business so that when I was approached by friends & family, I knew what kind of special pricing I wanted (and could reasonably afford) to give them. No animosity,no resentment, just clear and concise business policies. Piece of cake.

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Kimberly Houston

Fortunately (or unfortunately–I guess it depends on how you look at it!), none of my family or friends have asked for a F&F discount. Then again, it’s very early in the game for me with my newly launched marketing services business, so that could change.

But with my freelance writing, which I’ve been doing for years, I have had some small local publications ask if I wanted to write for them in exchange for “exposure,” and I’ve said yes to that when I thought it would benefit both their audience and me at the same time.

The first time I said “no” to such an offer, it was a revelation, because it proved to me the world doesn’t end when you have to say no to someone who is genuinely nice and wants your (albeit free) services! : )

Truth be told, I actually only said no to this particular offer because a very good friend of mine who has done freelance writing and media relations for years said to me: “You don’t need to do that. You’re getting paid for your work elsewhere, you don’t need the ‘exposure’ this pub is offering, and besides, you’re too busy with paid writing right now to take this on!” And I thought, you know what, she’s right! And once I said no the first time, it became easier to do it the next time.

What’s more difficult for me is to ask for more $$$ from my current clients, one in particular, who I took on when I was just starting out and is still paying me the same rate! I gotta do something about that! : )

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Virginia

Wow, this one smacked me in the face recently in two different ways & I flummoxed on being clear & regret the consequences! One was a request to alter a poster which as it turned out needed a total re-haul & I took it on as a project (which proved to be allot more involved) as a favor. The person offered to cover my time but I failed to respond & just did the work…now there’s a pink elephant in the room as this topic was never clarified! However, realizing my mistake & knowing from the results she will want to utilize my services again I clearly outlined my hourly rate for future projects.
A similar incident is a not-so close ‘friend’ wants to attend my yoga class on a regular basis as a means to stretch after her evening run. The studio policy is that I can have friends attend for free ongoing but they do not count towards my pay rate (which is determined by the no. of people in the class)…initially I told her that she is welcome to come & I could get her in free. However, I feel a bit uncomfortable doing this ongoing as I feel I am worth $15 & knowing that she is a thrifty savvy lady I feel kind of used as wonder I if she would choose to come to my class if she had to pay? I am considering asking her after a few classes to pay & as I am the manager of the studio I may utilize this opportunity to alter the studio policy.
I realized I spoke too soon in both these situations & I have to state my worth right off the bat & not be afraid of it. Valuable lessons…thanks for sharing this one Maire, you rock!

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Tracy Lee Jones

This was awesome- thank you Marie!! I just submitted my tweet vote for your shorty award- wooowhooo!!

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Jennifer Elsner

This video is, as usual, perfectly timed (how do you do that?!). I am currently creating a lot of bids for clients, some of whom are my friends, and as I do, I am working a bit more to stand by my full price, which… is my (self) value. You wisdom this morning, like a rudder, is keeping my engine directed true north.

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danielle

omg jen.. you really did need this today! lol

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Heather Chauvin

This was hugely awesomeness that I needed to hear RIGHT NOW!
Putting this into practice is the hardest part… but so essential when it comes to even having a business… Everyone wants something for free.
Thanks Marie. You ROCK!

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Anne Van de Water

Awesome video and awesome content.
I always tell friends and family about my discount policy from the get go so that there are no misunderstandings.
My general policy has always been 10% off services.
I also set aside 10% of my schedule for charity and philanthropy where I give my services either for free or at a highly discounted rate.
Once in awhile a friend or family member falls into this category of my biz.
Thanks for another great video.
I love how you always blend user friendly instantly applicable information and fun lighthearted entertainment. Super sweet.
Loving how you switched out your lil stack of notes for an ipad…super cyber sleek :))

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Mary

I think this is great! thanks. :)

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Maria T

I love your stuff, Marie … can’t wait for Tuesday! Here’s a question that has nothing to do with your subject. I’m beginning to set up my studio to shoot promotional videos. Is your brick background created using a green screen, or is it a real brick wall? Thx.

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Andrea Palen

Thanks for this! I always give away discounted services to my friends and family. I love what I do and so I find myself wanted to share it with everyone. The problem is that it is the ones I give discounts to that become the most problematic clients.

I’ve become a lot better at saying “no” though. I now only take people who I no will commit to to my time and I never ever give away primo time slots. Friends and family know that if something comes up, they get put on the back burner.

I think the best idea for me however, is to just make everyone pay full price, it is the only way I can offer the best service !

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Mridu Parikh

Thanks for this video Marie! I feel like I have screwed myself in the past over this issue. When I was first starting out I offered 50% off to friends and family. I know, what was I thinking?! Now it’s a couple years later and I feel like I still have to honor that discount because that’s how I set it up for them. Any advice of how to get out of this sticky situation?

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Mary

I would like a reply to this too! Once people are used to one price, they don’t want to pay higher prices…. maybe some people will stop buying/hiring our services and others who are willing to pay will start buying… It is scary not knowing and creating a potentially rocky financial situation until it evens out…

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Mikita ~ Kisabird Studios

I would use the start of new year or a new quarter to do this. I don’t think you can change it abruptly – people will feel you yanked the rug out from underneath them – and they will resent you because they will feel that they have supported you/your business (even if they don’t pay or pay very little) and you want to preserve good relationships and good word of mouth.

If you are SERVICE-based business:
Option A – YOU WANT TO CONTINUE F&F DEALS, BUT LIMIT THEM.
Send out an email that says, “Thank you all for your support over the years. As things have grown, I’m restructuring to focus on ______ area of my business. Starting June 1st, I will only be offering F&F deals on a limited basis, with a specific number of slots per quarter on a first-come, first-serve basis. You can reserve your slot with an email and 50% deposit.”

Option B – YOU WANT TO ELIMINATE ALL F&F DEALS. (I would give a longer time frame).
Send out an email, “Thank you all for your support over the years. As things have grown, I’m restructuring BusinessName to focus on (new product development or new client acquisition). At the end of this year BusinessName, will discontinue the F&F discounts. We will continue to accommodate 1 F&F deal per month for the rest of the year on a first-come, first-serve basis. You can reserve your F&F deal with an email reservation and 25% deposit.”

If you are a PRODUCT based business:
Option A – REDUCE THE DISCOUNT AMOUNT.
Send out an email that says, “Thank you all for your support over the years. As things have grown, I’m restructuring Business Name to focus on ______ area. Starting June 1st, the F&F deal will change to 20% off. All orders placed before June 1 will still receive the original F&F deal. If there is something you have had your eye, now is your opportunity to get it while it lasts!”

Option B – ELIMINATE THE F&F DISCOUNT (I wouldn’t totally eliminate it, but set up special elite F&F sales throughout the year – they will feel special, you control WHEN and HOW much the sales are. It’s win-win.)
Send out an email that says, “Thank you all for your support over the years. As things have grown, I’m restructuring Business Name to focus on ______ area. Starting June 1st, the standing F&F deal will end (this gives them time to buy up now). Moving forward you will all be part of a special elite group that will have unique access to special sales throughout the year. These sales will not be available to anyone outside of this group.” (now you have made them feel special AND they have something to look forward to!! and of course always make the F&F sales better than any of your public sales to keep it special!)

I hope this helps!! It just about helping ease the transition. Humans like things to stay the same; we don’t like it when stuff changes suddenly – we just got used to things the way they were!! If you can help reposition so it doesn’t feel like you are suddenly yanking it away, then they will respect you and appreciate the heads up.

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Mary

Wow! thanks for the detailed answer, this is excellent! :)

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Mikita ~ Kisabird Studios

Mary I hope it helps!

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Beverly

Hi Marie!

Thank you, thank you, thank you~ I live in the LAND OF THE FRIENDS AND FAMILY DISCOUNT, which is why we are all in deep you know what and UNCLEAR! In my music business I have been so frequently taken advantage of out of “friendship”. But you nailed it-where was I during this stuff! In Italy it is the RULE-however to save my livelihood and that of my partnership I want to BURY this FO’EVAH!!!

In good ole NYC none of my firnds ever expected me to do something for nothing-a gift was a gift, a favor was to be reciprocated with a service of equal value and people OFFERED to pay when they asked for help. Europe has been a trip in many ways as yours truly has been sucked into this trap big time! I thank you so much and I will create text in multiple languages to clarify what we can do. My partner is writing arrangements he does not want to write because of OUR lack of clarity.

Thanks again Marie! You are the biz!!!!

Bev

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Jeannie Spiro

Marie,
I think you’re right on target here.I’ve been in situations that I’ve learned now not to repeat. You also have to be very careful with bartering as that may not work out evenly (and I say that’s not just with friends and family only).

Good luck with the Shorty Awards…from one (former) Jersey girl to another there’s no doubt who the clear winner is…I’m sure you’ve got this award covered.

Jeannie

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Cassie

Hey Marie,
This video hits close to home to me and this situation actually caused a terrible rift in my family. My aunt has always treated me almost like an extra daughter- so supportive and loving. She actually part of the reason I started my business. She encouraged me to move to DC, allowed me to stay at her house for free for 5 months, marketed me to her friends, and gave me business advice (not always solicited). Anyway, in exchange, I gave her and her 3 daughters free piano lessons. I ended up doing so for 3 years. Her family never really took the lessons seriously (didn’t practice or listen to me). When I came over to their house to teach them, they often just wanted to “hang out” with me. After 3 years, I thought it would be appropriate to ask my aunt to start paying me for lessons at a 50% off rate- something that I didn’t think was a big deal. I had given them thousands of dollars of free lessons, which I thought more than made up for staying at their house and the initial business help. My aunt went crazy when I asked her- refused to talk to me, had her children send me nasty emails, etc. It’s been two and a half years and our relationship has never been the same. She had mostly cooled off, but got nasty again this year (I found out that they started taking lessons from someone else- she was angry about having to pay)- purposing not returning calls and emails, not inviting me to holiday family events, even talking s*&# about me to my own elderly grandparents- saying I’m a cutthroat business woman. Anyway, it’s just a really sad situation. From time to time I feel really upset about it. Mostly I just keep my distance and realize that she has a problem. It’s too bad. It’s awful too because whenever I do see her she acts very fake nice, but I hear later on that she is saying nasty things behind my back to others. I don’t know if there’s much I can do other than give her time to move on. My mom (her sister) has tried to talk to her and she’s refused.

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Chas

Wow! Cassie, if ever there was an example of why it isn’t a good idea to give your services away for free, or at a discount to family members, or friends, it would be your story. A hard way to learn that lesson and something I hope Marie’s advice is able to help others avoid that heartache. Hopefully time will heal that rift.

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Eleanor

Loved this because I just implemented & it’s great!!! When a person asked me to “come in and help” (they’re getting salary), I explained that I think it important I receive payment and a contract so that both parties are sure what my duties are and projected results – which protects everyone :)!
Scary at first, but it made me feel soooooo much better that I finally drew a line.
Clarity is a great feeling, thanks Marie!

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Brad Miller

I usually just work for free if I choose to work with a friend. Not only is it odd to ask a friend for money, but why do I want my friend to now be my boss? I’ll do a favor for a friend so I want to define the project as a favor…unless it’s some giant project and an actually great opportunity for a professional relationship.

I’ve seen this with business owners who don’t really market. You know the type…”I get all of my work through word-of-mouth.” They end up working for family, friends of family, friends, and friends of friends. All of the money is now uncomfortable and they work extra hard because every job is a favor or something.

I like to market my services to businesses out there, and I want them to work for me because I’m good. It’s just better for my business and better for my friendships.

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Mary M

Marie you rock. Thanks for your advice. I am a lawyer and often get asked to help with emergencies with family and friends. The problems usually become a monster time suck but I feel guilty at the thought of making them spend money for help when I could take care of it for free. Baby steps with this one but these are great suggestions to stop the cycle before I find my time and energy zapped.

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Liz

This video is sooo important! I see this situation all the time and I think one of the things we all have to remember is that we are in business – it is not a charity.

There are some jewelry stores that offer great prices but never have huge sales,..if you can think of your self like a higher end jewelry store that offers a great product at a great price with exceptional service, people will respect that and pay full price (friends and family included!) if you are clear about your policies.

Thanks Marie!!!

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Robin Hallett

Wowza loved the topic today, Marie! I have had a lot of experience with this issue, the hard way. And, what I’ve learned from those lessons is that I am the one who sets the boundaries – loose or firm – and
accordingly, I teach people how to treat me.

What has really helped me is to have a clear policy on how I will handle F&F’s, requests for donations, and requests for probono work. I follow it. I say it out loud so there is no funky energy, “it is my policy that…” or, “while I do offer probono work, I am currently capacity”.

Yes there are times when I still feel awkward about it. I know this is normal in the process. At those times I remember people who have inspired me like Louise Hay, ‘I offer excellent services for excellent pay”.
And, Marie, your words stay with me about being confident in my pricing and services translating into increase in opportunity.

Thanks again, you rock, Robin

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Aisha

I hear dat! I gave friends and family discounts when I started and offered it to everyone I knew. Now I feel I’ve done my part and when f&f come to me and can’t afford what I do, I have lower priced options with others available for them right then and there. It often alleviates any awkwardness and also shows I care about them getting what they want! AAaaaaand best of all I don’t do it because I think I “SHOULD” (barf in my mouth from that word), and end up doing a bad job!

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Annabeth

This is impeccable timing !!!!
Thank you so so much, Marie.
As a musician, venues looove it when I play for free.
I hate it!
It’s taken a long time to realize I can and need to say “No” to offers like, “We’ll give you dinner if you play!” Ugh, no thanks!
Also, as I get into the digital recording world, I have a colleague/friend who expects me to collaborate with him constantly for free, with no contracts, in the promise that we’ll get rich quick later if the music we create is good.
This is not fun!!!
I am going to use this video, and let him know that he can pay my rate, or go home.
Thanks again!
-Annabeth

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Sandi Wedemeier

In my current business incarnation as a professional psychic, spiritual educator and coach, I make it clear that I will not work with friends and family. No, nada, nein! Our lifepaths are too intertwined and I cannot be objective; if I cannot be objective, I cannot stand in the Truth. I will always refer them to someone I know and trust.

However, I will be completely transparent here…in previous businesses, I was HORRIBLE at keeping clear boundaries! I once offered to take the engagement photos for a friend of my goddaughter’s…and ended up doing all the wedding photography for FREE…as in not even recouping the cost of film development. That was THE LAST time I let that happen. Why are these lessons so difficult?!

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Carissa

There can be a trick in offering discounts to relatives even to anyone. You can set a bit higher from your ceiling price so if someone ask for a discount you can give then without hesitation and most especially you are not losing money.

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vanessa

I stopped giving friends and family discounts because their the toughest clients …end of story…period. When you pay you tend to be more respectful and committed to change. p.s. I love you:)

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Julie

I agree with Vanessa! I am a chiropractor and we have dealt with this issue for years, a lot of our parent friends tend to come to see us, which honestly I do not like seeing friends, they do not take you seriously like other clients. lots to think about from your video Marie, thanks.

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rowan twosisters

I have a set friends and family rate, its higher than the industry standard, but still much cheaper than my regular rate. I also don’t see these folks during my prime time hours, instead during lessor trafficked appt. times.

And I make sure they get the info when I’m running a special or gift certificate option, if they really want my services they will figure out a way to pay for it.

xoxoxo!
love you Marie!
Rowan

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Latoya

Thanks for this Marie!! I’m a newbie photographer but I feel like I’m at the point where I can charge for my services since I’ve been practicing testing it out for 2 years now. My friends and family really need to understand that this is what I do for a living and I can’t do it for free…especially the ones I set time aside for then the cancel for a party…can you believe that?! P.S- love your blazer!

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Kim Miles

Love this one Marie! You nailed it…as usual :)

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Karin

One of the first pieces of advice I received out of school was, Don’t give discounts to your friends because eventually all of your clients will be your friends. This is so true if you are really cultivating relationships.

Despite this advice I struggle with being asked for discounts by just about everyone. Because our jewelry is considered art, people think the prices are suggested starting points. I’m thinking of instituting a firm no discounts policy across the board so that there is a quick and easy one-size-fits-all end to the conversation each time it is raised. It’s hard tho when you lose a sale due to sticking to your price.

The only other option is to mark up to mark down. That just feels dishonest and ends up being a tax on the respectful customers who don’t ask for a discount.

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Bridget Morris

I used to give way too much of a discount to friends and family. It had more to do with worthiness on my part. Over that! Now when people ask me how much something is I refer them to my web sites store where all of the prices are there. No discounts. I may offer embossing free.

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Mary

I have a small business hand crafting organic skincare, I have had my business for years and am a wholesale supplier to health food stores and such. I also have an Amazon store. I do like giving family & friend discounts, and have no problem with close friends and family getting products from me directly.
My discomfort is when someone that I was friendly with at a product demo or a friendly acquaintance asks me if they can get products directly from me. It’s not professional, it’s not the way to build my business and I assume they expect a discount.
I don’t want to disappoint them, have them not try my products or sour the friendly vibe we have going on but when I tell them what the closest retailer is or tell them they can get it on Amazon, and thank them in advance for supporting my brand by getting it from a store, or say I don’t sell direct- their face drops and they often look let down or even a bit insulted. I think they just don’t get what it is like to be a small business, it doesn’t seem to help when I try to explain.

Am I being too friendly and making them feel like they are my new bff? I know I am friendly and connect with people a lot and don’t want to stop being myself, but it is disconcerting to think that my genuine friendliness is hurting my biz.
Any thoughts? suggestions? anyone else have this issue?

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Loralee Hutton

Yep! I’ve been lazy in this area, and it shows. In my previous business I was diligent about tracking ALL of the hours myself of staff worked & lovingly sent out invoices showing the full amount and any discount, etc. Just in the act of creating the invoices I found I did it less seldom than I was previously tempted to do. Time to crack the whip (on myself) and get back into this practice, even though I’m not always billing hourly.

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Bethanne Wanamaker

Marie, I LOVE your videos! They’re so much fun to watch even though you cover real & serious topics. Thank you – and love the different “take” you show, hilarious!

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Jennifer Carman

Thanks Marie! Great reminder to keep it simple and always allow time to sit with our own intentions, motivations, and policies. If we’re not clear how can we expect others to know what to expect. AWESOME!

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Evy

Great video…as always! I offer web, online marketing and graphic design services and I’m constantly hit up not for a discount but the much dreaded TRADE. Eeek, I just can’t afford to do it! I love massages, haircuts and house cleaning… but seriously those don’t pay my bills. I do feel guilty when I say No so this video was a great reminder that it’s ok to just.say. no. Love your script, I’m using that :)

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michelle

You have nailed bringing your own personal style and fun into your business. Something I think is really important and AWESOME!!!

Love your style infused biz- nassss. ;)

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Stacey @ Shine Weight Loss

Oh, so timely. A few days ago, I had a family member email me asking for my help. I responded by saying that I would love to work with her on a “more formal” basis…as before now– I was helping her without being paid (and not through my structured coaching program).

We had a call scheduled for today….and guess what? She forgot about the appointment!

Using the words “hire me” in my response probably would have stopped this from happening. When a monetary value is placed on something, people tend to value it more.

Thanks for the tips (and actual wording) on dealing with this situation! :)

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Heather English

Indeed! I have a product based business and have given a lot of FF discounts over the years, telling myself that these people will talk up my products and help market/sell them (and in reality I still have a bit of unworthiness complex). After watching your video and seeing other comments (“dad’s biz was compromised by too many discounts”, “business sluttery”, etc.) I realize that in order to market my products in the best way I have to completely stand behind them and believe in what I’m doing. My prices are very reasonable (especially considering the lifetime guarantee) and if someone wants the product then they’ll have no problem paying for it…. I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me! Yee-haw!

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Kate Courageous

Oh, wow–this is one I could definitely relate to. I’ve received a lot of emails lately from people (though not friends & family) who are asking for one of my downloadable e-programs for use in their groups–one person has bought it and loved it, and they’d like to co-opt the material to teach to a group they’re involved with, or get free copies for the rest of the group.

Trouble is, they’re not asking about licensing options, or getting a slight discount for ordering in bulk–they’re telling me how they’ve fallen on hard times, and they’d like me to offer up several free copies, or just allow them to use my materials for their workshops simply because it resonates for them.

When I say that I’m not comfortable with such deep discounting, but that I’m open to installments–even giving them the e-program now and letting people pay it off in $10 a month increments–I’ve either received sort of pissy emails back, or silence.

It would be great to hear more on this topic. Some of the emails I’ve received have been straight-up guilt trips, treating me as if I roll around naked in all of my cash laughing at people who are struggling financially. I don’t think, in these cases, that anyone is stopping to consider all the time that I spent struggling financially, while I was developing my business. I’m aghast at the implication that I’m obligated to give away my work for free, and that I’m a bad person if I don’t.

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Dawn

This is such a valuable lesson that took me so many years to learn in the beauty industry. Everyone loves to know someone in the beauty biz -because they always want to look fabulous!! However, it really hurt my business! Taking time away from full paying clients to accomedate “F&F” that were paying me half of what I normally charge. It really got to a point were it was totally out of control! Finally, I sent an email out to my “friends & family” and set the ground rules. I let them know that if I wanted to give them a discount that I would – but to not expect it. I also told them that I loved their referrals of their friends but to not assume that I would extend any discount to them. The other area for me – some clients who always wanted to a deal! Sometimes I would give breaks because you just want more money or it was a slow week. However, I claimed my freedom from “deals” when one day a client who lived in a multi-million dollar house, drove a brand new mercedes convertible, who wore only designer clothes asked me to do a service for her at considerable discount. I finally claimed my talent, time and said NO! She was shocked – and never came back. That was fine because I had clients who were willing to pay me full price. It finally dawned on me why should I give her or other clients like her a break? Some of my other clients who had way less than her had ever asked me for break and always tipped me the best and remained totally loyal. The ones who I gave a break to, almost always did not remain loyal. Not to mention by me giving her or anyone else a discount – my own million dollar house was farther away because I was not getting paid what I was truly worth. I finally took my power back and never let anyone put value on my knowledge and talent again! I finally learned I wanted to work smarter – not harder!

I no long work in that area of the beauty industry, however, now that I have a product based skin care business this discounting issue was bound to come up again. However,I have a strict policy on discounting which I have had in place from day one.

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Jean Huang Photography

Marie,

Another awesome video, and spot on with my industry! :-)

I’ve learned long time ago that free or discount does not bring appreciation. To be, capturing and preserving moments in life is a beautiful thing and it should not be taken lightly, especially not because it’s free or cheap.

For that, I’ve stopped offering discounts to friends or family. I do provide more value (mostly in the form of gifts) as the demonstration of my appreciation for the extremely supportive clients (usually turned friends) and family.

Personally, I’d choose donating my time and services to charities and creating work that will be treasured for life over doing work (for a discount) that will be less appreciated.

Thank you again for the great subject and response! And I enjoyed reading all comments from the fellow entrepreneurs.

Jean

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Marta

As a tourguide, I’m very often asked to show the city around to friends and family coming to town.

If I don’t have any tour that day, I’d show them around in a more casual way for a couple of hours, but I wont’ give them a “serious tour”. And if they need something more professional I might consider giving them a special price if I have a margin to do that and depending on the case.

Recently I had an interesting case: an old client that has become now a good friend (he always takes me out to lunch when he’s in town, has recomended me to ALL his contacts coming to town and given me a lot of business, and now he’s invited to my wedding), wanted to offer his son a private tour for his honey moon. He never asked for a discount, but I thought he trully deserved it. Since we never discussed how many hours should the tour take, I met the newly weds and kept going as much as they wanted. It was a total of 6h, and I decided to just charge my friend for the basic 4h tour, then I gave him the last 2h for free. He was very happy and really appreciated it!

By the way, not only friends and family ask for discounts. From time to time I also get total strangers who ask for a cheaper price right away! Of course, that’s a NO.

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Karen Christensen |The Legacy Boutique

Such an awesome & important Q&A, Marie, especially for women who become fast friends through networking & often feel that pressure once they’ve become so casual & close with an inquiry. As a fellow photographer, I’ve definitely struggled with this in the past & find it really common amongst my women entrepreneur friends but not at all an issue with my male entrepreneur friends. Interesting, no?

While we always want to be genuine and generous, reality is we cannot always afford to discount our time and talents. For me, here’s what’s working:

1) Instituting a no discount policy across the board & instead adding more value,
2) Offering a Referral Reward program to help happy clients offset their investment,
3) Creating Limited Edition VIP Gift Cards that I send out to my favs quarterly,
4) For Nonprofits & Charities {another important offshoot conversation} it’s important to always invoice the full details of what the job actually costs to produce, highlighting any gifted portions of time, talent, equipment, travel, etc. Whether we choose to donate ALL or SOME of our time, the cost and value of the job must always be known. With photography, but also every industry, there’s often an educating of what all goes into producing the work. People often just don’t know. And, of course, it’s first most important to remember that many NGOs have media budgets and are ready to invest in top visuals when they’re confident your photography will raise funds, grow awareness, and produce results.

Well, that’s what’s worked for muah. Love the conversation, Marie! xo

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Tara Husband

Hey there Fabulous Ones…Some people say no way to trade but I have found I can work it well with clear boundaries. I have had my house fixed, personal trainers, professional photographs, etc. When they ask for FREE, I always have one non-profit I’m working with so unless it’s something creative where I’ll learn something and it will be a +++ for biz skillz then there really isn’t the time.

Love & Laughs,
Tara Husband

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Leigh

Loved this video! I have definitely gotten caught in the trap of discounting/not setting clear boundaries. I once wrote a sales letter to help someone sell an e-book/teleseminar series. She sent me a copy of the book and had me listen to one of the teleseminar modules so I would know their features/benefits (you can’t really sell something when you don’t know what it’s about, ya know?). When I invoiced her (my VERY low price at the time — seriously, I’m too embarrassed to tell you how little I even charged), she said she had given me the e-book and teleseminar module for free, so we were “even.”

Since then, I have offered few discounts and have made sure to set boundaries *before* doing work for anyone.

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David H.

Great video, I love your extra silliness on this one!

I’ve run into this a bit lately, sometimes even pushing them away or closing in so I wouldn’t have to deal with charging friends. Or I just give them a lower rate.

Miss you and Big J! Hopefully next time I’m in NYC I can catch you guys.

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Tiffany

I avoid this problem by asking my friends and family to be my testers. That way I get feedback on my products and don’t have to worry about expensive market research. A side benefit is that I don’t have to feel awkward about friends and family pricing.

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Vanessa Uybarreta

I have had awkward moments because money overall has been an issue for me, but I have gotten a lot better. I basically have a discount for my close friends. This does not include friends of friends or acquaintances. I don’t have any family around besides my parents so that leaves them out.
I have to say the biggest thing like Marie said, is being up front and honest. I like to hire people for services that I feel are great at what they do and are passionate. This means if this is a friend of mine, I am super happy to give them business and money. I find many people make the assumption that I would want free work. So a lot of times I have actually said to them that I don’t expect free services. I want my stuff done timely and in the same way they would treat other clients!
Also is to be honest with yourself. If you decide to do something pr bono or discounted, make sure you are really ok with it. If not, stand for what feels honest to your heart.

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Adriann Saslow

It is hard, especially when friends know that someone else got the “mate rate” and why don’t they qualify? If you are going to give a friendly discount, make sure they know the regular price and can quote that to anyone that might be interested if they press for $ info.

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Amanda Mitchell

Hi Marie,

I loved todays video and it totally resonated with me. I am always quick to give up commissions and charge people less because I feel guilty. This was a great help in learning how to deal with friends and family and also reminded me that my time is definitely worth something. I hate talking about money with friends, family, clients, its a subject I find extremely awkward, but I am slowly learning that it doesnt need to be as complicated as I like to make it.

Thanks for your videos, I am a huge fan !

Amanda

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Leah Fisch Reorganizer

Great THREE ways to deal with this, Marie.

Follow-up question:

If you USED to offer certain discounts and would like to transition out of that, do current clients get grandfathered in to the discount, or does the discount just go away?

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Nuria

Hi Marie,

I don’t have this problem. I’m a Spanish teacher and my family already speaks the language.

I love, love your videos!!

Muchas gracias bonita :)

Un abrazo,

Nuria

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Jeanie Joe

I guess I’m lucky, because my friends and family insist on paying me. They know how hard I have worked on my stuff (I design and make handbags) and they say they want to support me. I think most of my f&f don’t ask because it’s merchandise where I have not only invested money in materials, but also my time spent sewing. Honestly, the only time I was asked for a discount was from a distant friend, and at a loss for words, I said I’ll have to think about it. End of awkward moment. I have in the past agreed to barter, and out of three transactions, I got seriously burned on two. I don’t do consignment either. All these reasons are why I sometimes just outright say “I’m in this for the money!”

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Rain

LOL!!! I love it. You remind me of how I was when I was on the reality tv show Starting Over. Thank you for bringing back a piece of me.
-Rain
P.S. Don’t say “homie” my teenagers said that makes us sound “old”.
Lol!

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Anna

This has been a ‘touchy’ issue for me from the get-go! I offer very special skin care treatments and energy work. I have friends who willingly pay full price, but I always offer a $10 discount just to the close ones. Some however want to just try to do ‘trades’. While trades aren’t the worst thing and if I have time I can fit them in, they often want to trade for things I don’t want or need or that we would do for eachother anyway as friends. I see these same friends spend cha-ching on people for similar services…My point is, people seem to respect my services more when I charge and as they gain respect for my trade, they become more willing to pay the full price.

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Laura

Great post! I love your script setting up the exchange and eliminating awkwardness. Thank you!

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grasie

GIRL! I am the worst at this!!! When it comes to styling and my rates I’m always feel awkward talking $$$ with friends. And I’m constantly having “SALES” so I can accommodate friends who I know want to work with me but say they can’t afford. THANK YOU FOR THIS VIDEO! I’ll definitely be using your advice. Love you! xo

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Michele K.

I have a product based business with prices that are low. The only discount I usually give is that I dont charge the 8% sales tax, even though I pay it to NY. I am transitioning my business and products and in the future I will build in a 10% cushion in my pricing. Then I can also offer discounts to F+F or special return customers, if I’m so inclined. I will say that taking money from my Mom when she buys from me is hard for me to do. She has never asked for a discount.

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Debi

As an author and one who has self published her second book, I’ve found particularly relatives to have the expectation that I can afford to just GIVE them a book. At first I was uncomfortable about asking for $’s but now I’ve come to realise that I need to set the boundaries. So when talking about my books, I do something similar to what Marie says – state what the cost is for family and how I’m able to offer a small discount for them. But I also ask them to go out there and promote my books and they actually do. People will do things when you ask them, particularly when they know they are getting a discount.
Thanks Marie – you rock!

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brigitte weber

Dear Marie, thank you with AbSOULute Gratitude for all of your business advice!!! XBrigittexx

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Colleen Joy

I am ALSO a Photographer, so I found this video EXTREMELY helpful. I’m 30 years old, so LOTS of my friends are getting married right now. The first 4 weddings that I did for them, I willingly offered them a discount. Then I started to pay attention that they weren’t actually ASKING for one. A couple years ago a friend of mind did, in so many words, ask for a ‘special rate’. I don’t know where this came from, it may have been divinely inspired, but I said, “I value our friendship too much to lower the value of the work you want me to do for you.” He immediately understood and booked a full price package that fit his personality, style and budget (I always throw in a couple of low or no-cost ‘gimmies’). Thanks so much for this topic! I got a lot out of it and reaffirmed that i’m not being a ‘b*tch’ (my biggest fear, sometimes).

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Annie Kamiya

Aloha Marie! Great advice. I will use the script. We do get asked all the time as a band to give a F&F rate. Back in the day, when we were just starting out, we did give our goods away for free to our friends for, say, their wedding reception. We told them it was our wedding gift to them (but, even then, you better be prepared for what you get asked to do when you give away for performance for free). We also weren’t very transparent about the performance being a gift and we definitely learned our lesson in being up front about what you are offering and why. Nowadays, we do offer a F&F rate and I use all the tips you mentioned. What really blows my mind is when my husband’s clients (we also own a music instruction business and he teaches music privately to students) ask us outright for a F&F discount. My jaw always drops in disbelief. The script will definitely help in this arena. I will have to tweek it some because we do have an F&F, and I don’t want to lie about that, but we are not going to extend that rate to every client! Jeesh!! Keep ‘em coming, Marie! Great, simple stuff. = )

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SlenderHerbs

This is my family & friends policy, feel free to adopt it as your own:

I am so fortunate for all of the support you give to me, both personally and professionally. I also thank you for using SlenderHerbs, but for also caring enough to honor my business as this is the way I make a living. It is my pleasure to offer you a lifetime family & friends discount. I feel it is important to show you some love without going bankrupt in the process. I sure do appreciate you; whenever you want to order, use this code XXXX. Please be aware that this is a private offer and is extended by invitation only; please don’t share it or I might be forced to ask you to contribute to the grocery budget this month :-)

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Katherine

I run a small product-based business from home. All my family has been respectful about it and are willing to pay full price. I have given discounts for friends and family members who have given me new clients. My husband’s mother is not so well mannered. As the matriarch of her family (dad is out of the picture), she expects everyone to give her whatever she wants and always for free. She has never had a job and currently doesn’t have a home. She literally jumps from one established household to the next on the pretext of “visiting” while everyone is expected to give her free room and board for months at a time, and everything else she hints at — shopping sprees for clothes, iPhone, iPad, jewelry, everything including the plane ticket to the next location. I tried to draw the line with my business, but she caused so much interference between myself and my husband that we nearly divorced. He feels obligated to make her happy, but it always makes me feel used. Things get really nasty when she goes after my business inventory (cosmetics) without my permission. After an “innocent” $1,500+ unattended shopping spree (she took one of everything), I’ve learned to keep cabinets locked. This last visit, she asked for a replentishment of some of the products she took ($400). I told her she could earn it by working for me. She left the next weekend. That was two months ago. I still keep hearing about it from my in-laws. I understand that she deserves respect as my husband’s mother, but I feel as though she completely obliterates the line of propriety. I’ve asked my husband to replace products just to keep the peace, but he feels I should just give it to her and take it as a loss. When she’s not here, everything in my life — relationships, finances, etc — are wonderful. I can’t make her disappear, but how am I supposed to deal with this? We’ve talked about this problem for four years and it never gets resolved. This issue has actually stopped me from pursuing my true business passion because it involves a huge commitment to a new product line that I know she would expect to be given for free.

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Dr Laura Ashley

Totally Fabulous video! So much so I sent the link to my young niece who is just starting out and already running into this issue.

Giving has been a priority all my life. Receiving was a whole ‘nother horse and buggy for many years, so I can really relate to all the great respondents who are wrestling with this probem.

In years gone by I ran into this problem frequently both from my clients and clients of my husband’s metallurgical consulting practice who wanted me to give them discounts because they were clients of his. Considerably younger at the time, I, too, had a really hard time saying “no” and far too often listened to “Ole Grey Taskmaster, Fear” who did it’s usual job on my head.

One great thing about the second half of life is we get to the point where we don’t give a damn about what others think of us — and if it doesn’t bring joy . . . we find ourselves more and more able to answer the question, “then why am I doing it? with a comfortably exhilirating — ‘I’m not going to!”

A few years after retirement, I got bored and wanted to get on with doing fun things in a new career life. Built out a fabulous new building for a world class healing cente, detoxification spa, and retail area, and joyfully dumped oodles of money into equipment, furnishings, and fixtures. Every dime and all the hard work was sooo worth it. It was the most fun I had created since retiring!

Then — one evening when everything was finally done and in place, and I had cleaned the entire building from top to bottom — I looked around and realized it was ‘lift-off time!

Since I have never advertised, over 98% of my business is by referral from clients or other practitioners; the rest from walk-in destination and front-range day visitors. Further, in our small resort town, everyone knows most everyone else — so I knew the “discount” issue would rear its pointy little head again, and again, and again.

Having been there, done, that, I commited to, “No way, Hosa,” sat down then and there, and worked ’til sun up, establishing win-win rates for each of my services and products.

Then the kid in me had a hoot creating adorable little booklets for each of the retail product lines that included ingredients, usage, benefits, and prices. For the wide range of coaching, healing, and life transition services and programs, I established both single-service and “program package prices” and put together another little booklet. Both went on the reception room coffee table. (Copies also go in the bags with all purchases).

Then, in addition to the client intake form, I created a written policies and procedure form that tells them what they can expect from us, what is expected of them (appts, cancellations, etc.), and the Center’s financial policies: “payment in full due at time of service” by cash or check (no credit cards because it enables the center to offer the best possible rates/prices).

On the inside of the first page of each booklet, I included a number of beautiful quotations from ancient and current icons on the joys and responsibilities of giving and sharing. Below them I included a brief note stating that the Center does not offer discounts to anyone (including family and friends) because we have chosen to contribute ten percent of the Center’s gross income to the year’s designated charity, which is given in the names of the Center and all of our clients. I close by saying that we appreciate their patronage, and thank them in behalf of all the those for whom their contributions make such a big difference.

It is standard practice among businesses in our community to give “locals” a discount (and charge visitors a higher rate). However, in the five years since opening the center, I have never had a single person ask for a discount (including friends and family). Many times they will add a $20 tip (which since I do not take tips, I thank them and tell them I will add it to their year’s donation to the designated charity for the year). Oddly enough, many clients have said taking care of themselves was often hard for them, but our policy makes them feel good about doing so.

Everyone pays the same rate or price. Rates are increased once annually, and emails go out to everyone 90 days in advance (that includes an automatic notice back that lets me know when they open it), along with a notice that package prices on any programs purchased before the new rates take effect will be honored at the current rates for 90 days following the change.

For those clients who are on extended wellness programs with standing appointments, who commit to and follow through consistently on their personal program — a few days before their birthday, I make up a beautiful “goody” box of items from my proprietary line of organic skincare and aromatherapy products, wrap each product separately, then wrap the whole kit and kaboodle up in a gorgeous over-wrapped box; write a personal note congratulating them on their dedication and outstanding progress, and to let them know the gift is a special personal thank-you just for him/her in appreciation of the honor and joy of sharing their path; and send it off. (Product cost varies, and is usually incrased a tad if they have also referred a number of new clients.)

When they call to thank me for the gift, I always tell them the best thank-you I could hope to receive would be for them to pass it along to someone else — whether as a smile to life someone’s spirits, doing something nice for someone, being kind to a stranger, or in whatever way their heart leads them to do so.

Since the contributions to the Humane Society and the spontaneous treats sent to clients are gifts from the heart — it’s always feels like a real win-win solution. Truth be told, I believe that I receive far more joy than the recepients. And by far the greater gift . . . for it has helped me to learn that just as giving is a responsibility — so, too, is receiving because it honors our divine heritage.

This is simply the way the kid in me had fun resolving the challenge. Bet yours can come up with a zillion more fun ways!

Stay Awesome — and Stand Tall!

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Monica Zimmerman

Hi Miss Marie–again another great timing Q&A Tuesday. I am working with friends currently in my new online business to acquire clients to create credibility and testimonials for my site. I am charging half my rate to nothing on these first few clients. I am re-thinking this initial path? Thanx to your Q&A today..I may just start charging full on to show the Universe I am for real and ready for the next new career chapter!!
Thanx..you inspire me..no really. Blessings!

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Thais Zoe / Lucky Duck Living

Hey Marie, You’re rockin’ it as usual:)
My policy is that my design services are either free or full-price.
I have found that when I give discounts or try to do a “favor” there is this odd phenomenon that occurs wherein they don’t seem to value what they’ve been given, and I on some level hold the idea that I’m doing them a favor…a recipe for disaster! If I decide to give a “gift: and not charge at all, that is the spirit in which it is received and given…better all the way around. This said, I have long-time design clients, who I charge full-price, but then periodically give them a free hour…but, it’s not something they ask for…again, it is a gift. With my t-shirt brand I’ll need to give it some thought…but, I imagine, I will either gift shirts 100% or everyone can purchase at the same price. Exciting times. Great post lady!

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DocDodo

Hi,
Marie, just what the doctor orders! – pun intended – I am a gynaecologist constantly having to fight off friends of friends who know me by grapevine and want contraception advice for free or that I am fixing them with an IUD for nearly nothing. I have a great reputition as an expert for nonhormonal contraception but I also want that to pay my life. You helped me to fomulate clear stretegies instead of getting wound up an in the end asking ungracefully whether they know what diapers and formula milk cost in the first year of a baby alone.
Best regards from Kiel (Germany)
Dodo

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Sacha

People never consider how much it COST to gain the knowledge and experience that you have. And then they want free lessons in it … in your free time and for free. Yeah, I’m working on getting more graceful about saying NO to that. But my first reaction is anger that they would even think that I should give it to them for free. So frustrating.

Sacha (France)

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Casey

Awesome, awesome vid Marie, thank you! Such a great topic and one I’ve been challenged by before.
This feels very clear, thank you!
Voted for your vids coz they rock!!

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Siegren

Last year, I was constantly approached by business and associates who would ask me for “special gifts” as raffle prizes, etc. I never said no. This actually ended up costing me more time and money than the referrals I hoped to receive. I recently viewed one of your Q&A Tuesdays, and decided that this year, I will drastically reduce, put limitations on, or ask for something in return, before committing to these kinds of “freebies”. This year, I also will start saying “no”. (new concept!)
Thanks for your help,
Siegren

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Sabrina

So enjoyable to watch. Such wisdom and humour all in one. Love it!

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Karen Rilstone

I have two home-based businesses: copy editing (rarely get discount requests from family) and custom home embroidery. For the latter, I often get requests for me to monogram something or put a design on a towel, ec., and the expectation is that it’s by machine, so therefore quick ….how can you charge for that?? I have now started to base my answer on the following factors: custom machine embroidery takes a lot of computerized set up time, expensive equipment, and training, and doing free work takes time away from paying customers. So I usually will offer them a small discount as long as I can schedule the job when I have an opening. Some of my friends are now just asking me the cost to do a job AND paying up front.

Karen

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MonicaWB

One of the things that helped shape my new business model (officially launching in May) was recognizing: ‘My friends and family are ALWAYS coming to me and referring people for help with career advice and resumes, but I don’t do that. I only work with entrepreneurs.’ But I DID do that. I just did it for free. (Often. A lot. Like, you wouldn’t believe how much time I gave away.)

I felt like I couldn’t charge for it, because it wasn’t part of my business model. I kept telling myself I had to stick with my niche. After over a decade of helping people position themselves to land a job they really wanted, it finally smacked me in the face (funny story I’ll blog about one day). `I can and should be charging for this. I’m clearly awesome at it.’

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Lynn Clark

I have a litmus test for F&F discount. OK, two.

1) Would I give them a kidney? If the answer is yes, then I don’t charge for the session and they pay cost + 10% for product and get files free. And I schedule it on a day that’s convenient for me. And if a paying client wants that day/time, they get bumped.

2) Can they be my guinea pigs? Are they willing to let me be creative and do what I want, and accept the results? If the answer is yes, then I don’t have to pay a model {thus saving me cash out of pocket} and I get to play and practice on real people who are going to be awkward in front of my camera, like 90% of my clients. Win for me! Same deal as above.

If the answer is no to these questions, then they pay full price. Easy peasy.

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Kris

Marie,

I’m a Menopause Fitness expert and have coached thousands of clients and it’s still tough when family and friend try and get free training and nutritional advice. 1 question limit them I’m charging I usually say after the first questions. We laugh and they get it sometimes.

@mymenopausefix

Please keep these awesome Video trainings coming.

KTS

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Ursula Jizba

Hi Marie,
great video, as always!
I’m an English Teacher and my policy is, I give the “kids” in the family free tuition etc. but the adults have to pay.
That’s been accepted by everybody in my family.
Looking forward to your next vid.
Greetings from Austria
Ursula

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Rachel Gogos

Great one Marie. This past year I’ve started working with several friends. It’s as if a lightbulb has clicked in their minds and they finally understand what I do and need it. To avoid the “awkward moments” cause I had a few at the get go I tell them right off the bat that I have a F&F discount of XX% from my typical rates. On the proposal I put the non F&F price with a line through it and there price so they can see the discount. I’ve also learned the hard way to put every detail in writing with friends too – just to insure that expectations are clear and we’re all on the same page. Loved your script. Thanks!

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Esther

hi, i have a question. i’m a beginner Certified makeup artist and i want to get my name so i call girls i know need a makeover for an event and i ask them if they want a makeover and i tell them dont worry about the money, inorder to say yes. when i get there i ask for a fee. is it right for me to do it? how else can i go about it? i want clients and they wont call me because im a beginner so i need to call them!! please help! thanks for all you support xoxo

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Amanda Mayberry

As someone who comes from a huge Filipino family, this is some great advice. Thanks for dishing out your sass on a regular basis! I use your videos as my weekly reward :)

P.S. That iPad precariously placed on your knee made this tech girl really nervous!

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Amanda Mayberry

P.P.S. We LOVE LOVE LOVE that you have a Giving Back section on your site. ‘Cause it’s all about making the world a better place, and we’re glad you’re encouraging others with your example. Thank you so much for this!

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christina

After this, my fifth year selling my line of die cut greeting cards, I decided enough’s enough.

Not only have I decided that I am no longer offering a friends and family discount to select folks, but I have revisited a few other small things that were causing me to lose money and sleep.

Awesome advice. Great little script. Thank you.

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Erin

Hahahaha… I love Q&A Tuesdays… even if I have to watch them a little later in the week ;)

And YES, I have this happen all the time. And YES, it makes me feel so awkward! I want to give my friends something special, but I do feel a little taken advantage of. However, your video and advice made me realize that I’m part of the problem.

Recently, a friend approached me about making a special necklace for his girlfriend for Christmas. We agreed on payment, and I let him know (upfront) that it was a special price because he was a friend. I drew up sketches for him, and made this uber-complicated, hand-sculpted, very personal necklace. I posted the photos for his approval and….

… he told me he didn’t want it anymore because he found out his girlfriend didn’t like heart-shaped jewelry. After I had done all the work without a deposit. He said he could pay for it anyway, but that “he’d prefer to save $___ if he wasn’t going to use it”.

I felt really betrayed. It was my fault that I didn’t require a deposit (I usually do with regular clients), and I will be using one for everything from now on. But what hurt me most was that it was more important to him to save money (that I was already giving him at a great price!) than to be respectful of my time and pay me.

After a lot of advise-seeking and soul-searching, I finally replied to his email and told him I would list it in my shop (for the sake of the friendship), even though I felt at the time that it would not sell there. Ironically, I had someone contact me the same day about purchasing it. So it worked out in the end.

But I still feel really mad about the situation and don’t actively pursue him as a friend anymore (especially since he lives far away). I don’t want to burn any bridges (which is why I didn’t express my frustration to him), but I don’t want people to think they can take advantage of me.

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anna zuccarelli

Great video!! Could you give a script if your profession involves a product as opposed to a service … I have a store and have this situation come up everytime I have friends and family come in and they buy products…. What do you suggest I say to them?
As always YOU ROCK!!
Thanks
Anna

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marie

Hey Anna! I’d love you to craft a script for that situation using the one I provided as a model. Give it a shot – it’s great training for your brain!

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anna zuccarelli

OK What do you think of this…..
(Name) I really appreciate your business and I am so glad you love shopping here… Unfortunately I can not offer any type of discount and I must charge tax too…. (Marie they all do not want to pay tax either!!) I hope you understand (Name)…
Marie, I think I am sounding to wishy washy…. Suggestions??

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Mikita ~ Kisabird Studios

Anna,

Did you see my reply earlier in the thread? time stamp is Mikita ~ Kisabird Studios February 7, 2012 at 3:52 pm. I think it might help in your situation.

here’s the part that is more relevant to you:

I would use the start of new year or a new quarter to do this. I don’t think you can change it abruptly – people will feel you yanked the rug out from underneath them – and they will resent you because they will feel that they have supported you/your business (even if they don’t pay or pay very little) and you want to preserve good relationships and good word of mouth.

If you are a PRODUCT based business:

Option B – ELIMINATE THE F&F DISCOUNT (I wouldn’t totally eliminate it, but set up special elite F&F sales throughout the year – they will feel special, you control WHEN and HOW much the sales are. It’s win-win.)
Send out an email that says, “Thank you all for your support over the years. As things have grown, I’m restructuring Business Name to focus on ______ area. Starting June 1st, the standing F&F deal will end (this gives them time to buy up now). Moving forward you will all be part of a special elite group that will have unique access to special sales throughout the year. These sales will not be available to anyone outside of this group.” (now you have made them feel special AND they have something to look forward to!! and of course always make the F&F sales better than any of your public sales to keep it special!)

I hope this helps!! It just about helping ease the transition. Humans like things to stay the same; we don’t like it when stuff changes suddenly – we just got used to things the way they were!! If you can help reposition so it doesn’t feel like you are suddenly yanking it away, then they will respect you and appreciate the heads up.

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Barbara

Another bullseye, Marie. Great vid with some cool options to avoid those sticky-icky moments that come up when money is part of the deal with friends.
One other option that I have used is the friends special 3 for 2 one time only plan. Pay for 2 and get 3. This guarantees 3 sessions and as the results are so amazing, the friend inevitably wants more, and also refers lots of his/her friends too! Double whammy!
Keep ‘em coming, Marie…and where did you buy that very cool jacket? X

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Susanna

I hadn’t even considered this being an issue with my friends and family, but I’m glad I read this because I feel like before I even get to the point where my friends and family would want me to do something for cheaper than what I would normally accept, I have tools to combat it. Thanks!

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Jo

Hey, Marie! I am a huge fan, your advice is oh-so-useful. I am a dentist in Costa Rica, and the whole F&F discount thing has cost me terribly in money and time. Here, people almost take it for granted, and I´ve been a bit of a push over there, I must admit. Let me tell you, patients are far less disciplined when they don´t pay the rates.
Anyways, on a brighter note I am getting ready to dive head front into the world of cupcakes and baked goodies (I am an awesome baker), and your script will certainly save me some possible awkward moments in the future on my new business adventure. You rock big time! :oD

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Fiona Humberstone

Love this video! My first time here and that script is precisely what I needed. I will be using that in the next day or so no doubt. Thank you

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amy

I am just getting started with my new business (massage) and love to be able to offer friends and family discounts. I also offer a “friends of friends and family” rate. I haven’t ever felt put out by this, and it helps get my name out. My services are priced such that I can afford to discount and still be profitable.

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Glynne

Hi Marie,

I do know what you’re talling about. I used to have an online business and friends were always asking and expecting to get products for free or
at the very least they seemed to think they should get a hefty discount.
I no longer have that problem as now I have a business helping charities. We particularly support the abused, raped and downtrodden around the world. The majority of these are women.
Love all your videos and emails Marie. Take care.

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Michelle

I am an artist who is really just starting out as far as making it a business and becoming a professional who is trying to build a brand and a “friend” of mine not only wants me to think about “signing a contract” for her (who is non-experienced in talent or visual arts management) to be my manager but also wants me to do a painting for her as a housewarming gift, free of charge!!!! I stumbled upon this post after getting on Google as far as how to approach the situation. I feel that anything I spend more than an hour or two on I should be paid for unless I want to give someone a gift. I think I will give her a gift card and let her know that my paintings are not decorative nick nacks that can be equated to housewarming gifts LOL

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Rachel Strisik

Thank you so much for this video. I always struggle with this exact issue with friends. For instance, is a better deal for better friends? I think I am going to think this over as I am leaning now towards NO family and friends discount. It is always so awkward and I truly do value my time!

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SwellKel

Boy has this been a sore spot. My son is a graphic designer and when his aunt asked him to design a logo and business card he said he would do it for free! But she wouldn’t hear of it and so when he finally finished he charged her $100 for at least $400 worth of work. She freaked, I ate the money for the printing of the cards, and even though she begrudgingly paid him, he never cashed the check. Lots of lessons learned.

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Keltie Maguire

I’ve been fortunate that most of my friends and family have been very supportive of my design business, and more than willing to pay full price for my products. I’ve decided to tell close friends and family that I will take care of the sales tax (which amounts to a 12% discount) but that I need to be serious about my business and charge them full price. They understand that this is a dream I’m chasing hard; I think for me it’s more so been about realizing that people I love aren’t just buying my designs because they “feel sorry for me” (what?? isn’t that just CRAZY thinking?), but because I make some fabulous jewellery!

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Gina

You crack me up! Perfect video…I really needed it last minute ^_^

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Jodina

What do you recommend in a situation where a husband and wife are signing up for a course and request a ‘family discount’ (they’re not related to me).
The fee for the 6-wk course is $150/ea., and they are already taking advantage of my posted pay-by-check-and-save-$5 offer.
Thanks Marie! I love what you do!
Jodina

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