You might find when you start up in business that some of your friends and family are asking for discounts.
They kind of like what you do, they want to support you by using you but they may not be so keen to pay the full price and ask for some what we call mates rates or a friends and family discount.
What should you do, what should you say, should you offer a friends and family discount, if you should how much should you offer?
These are all questions that people ask me all the time.
So first of all it is really natural to want to support each other, to want to support friends, to want to support our families when they go into business and I myself or have had family members who have become clients of mine but I don’t offer them a friends-and-family discount.
They pay the price that anybody else pays and let me speak about why because this is actually really an individual choice.
You need to do what’s good for you, it’s your business.
There is not really a right or wrong answer here but there are some boundaries to put in place if you decide to work with your friends and family because e the other option is that you say no I don’t work with friends and family.
That is an option for you too because it’s your business and you get to decide how you operate.
You get to decide the rules because it’s your business.
So first off, do you want to serve friends and family, you may not, the answer might just be straight off, sorry I don’t work with friends and family however I can recommend and you can pass them on to somebody else.
If you think yes, actually I’m happy to serve friends and family, that’s not a problem for me, I might enjoy that then it is the point where you say, okay am I going to be offering them a discount or not.
The problem when you offer a discount can be that boundaries start getting eroded.
So for example, particularly if you’re offering your time and particularly if your time is your service and your product then if you start discounting that, your friends and family might think, well, it doesn’t cost them anything and they kind of devalue what you’re providing which means that they may not implement or get the value that we need to from your service that you’re offering.
They may view it a nothing-ness because you are not spending money on it, you’re spending time and that can create problems with the relationship.
The other thing to think about is that some of your friends and family might not actually be your ideal clients.
You may not be able to help them in the way that you want and the way that you’re able to with your ideal client.
That can cause issues in terms of the service that you’re delivering them therefore the experience they have but also the way you feel in delivering that too because if you’re not delivering at the highest level for your client that might start making you question things that you don’t need to be questioning at all.
The other issue is that they can feel like they’re not proper clients because they’re not paying as much as everyone else.
That means things like your responsiveness time to them may not be the same.
It may mean in your methods of communication with them are not the same as they would be with normal clients.
So for example, if you’re working with friends and family, they might be WhatsApp-ing you and that kind of thing whereas you may not operate that way with your paying clients to establish personal and professional boundaries.
Now if you start blurring the lines for your friends and family, it can be really stressful on you because they’re contacting you by any means however at any time of the day because they’re your friends and family and things can get muddied up. So you can be having you know a conversation about meeting for dinner and then it’s like oh and how is this project for me going and that can get really confusing and a bit messy at times as well.
So that’s something to think about that if you are going to work with friends and family, you want to enforce the normal boundaries that you’d have with normal paying clients into that relationship as well where it needs to be sorted out, where that professional relationship is happening and that needs to be sorted out.
Make sure that they are being treated like proper clients even if you are offering the hefty discount, make sure they are still being treated like proper clients using systems and processes that you would would put in place for a normal, standard, paying client and the other thing to do to kind of make this feel good for yourself is that when you invoice them at the end of the work that you’ve done, issue them an invoice for the full amount and then show the discount on there because that just makes it clear to everybody the value they’re already given despite not paying in full for that value, they can see that actually this is what you would have charged anybody else and that can be really important both for the professional relationship between you and the personal relationship between you as well.
The ultimate thing that it comes down to is it is up to you whether you serve your friends and family at all.
You can have a, no I don’t serve friends and family policy but more importantly, if you choose to serve them, make sure you have the same boundaries in place that you’d have for any customer or client because otherwise both of you are going to feel a bit shortchange and you don’t want to jeopardise the relationship, the personal relationship you have for this as well.