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Services for free?

  • How do you handle it when acquaintances approach you and ask you to provide your business services for free?
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Jenn_Givler on 20th October 2007
  • i think it depends, if they are a business as well you can often barter services so you both are 'paying' but instead of cash it's service. you can also try to set ground work - would there be additional paying requests later? or is this a one time 'favor'? you can always ask them to send you the requirements or more info and if it's too much you can let them know your price or refer them to someone else (some friends/acquaintances are are great to talk to - TERRIBLE to work with! )

    that's my $.02 anyway
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Kate on 21st October 2007
  • Kate - I agree, bartering can be a great option. But definitely put some kind of agreement in place... I've seen barters go horribly wrong LOL!

    I recently had the situation where an acquaintance approached me and told me she wasn't in position to pay me for my services, so could we please have an "informal chat" around a slew of her business issues.

    My reply was that, her questions did, in fact, require a coaching session, as they were issues that I discuss with clients often. Therefore, it wouldn't honor my current paying clients to have a casual non-paying discussion with her.
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Jenn_Givler on 22nd October 2007
  • Wow, good reply, Jenn! That's hard to do. I get asked all of the time to do voice mail messages for everyone and, while it's flattering, it doesn't pay the bills. Now if you want to trade a yoga sessions for acupuncture, I'll talk. And throw in your v.m. message for free! Seriously, it's hard to say no since they think it's a simple request and, in reality, it is compared to a lot of the usual work I do. But it's my service. I often try to change the subject when it comes up b/c my, "Sure, but it will cost you $25" always gets a good laugh. <sigh> I don't want to live my life in the 'you scratch my back I'll scratch yours' realm but I'm afraid that's what it comes down to these days. And as far as the voice work goes, I certainly don't have to pad my resume anymore so that excuse doesn't fly. Good question and I can't wait to see how others reply to it.
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Mandy Nelson - Dandysound on 22nd October 2007
  • I think you handled it really well Jenn! I really struggled with this issue and then decided that those (who aren't family) who don't want to pay for my service don't really value what I do and end up not being great clients. This consumes even more time and energy.
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Meri Raffetto RD, LDN on 22nd October 2007
  • Thanks Meri and Mandy!

    This particular acquaintance is a member of my Yahoo Group, so I also directed her there and let her know she could ask her questions and receive help at no cost there. She seemed to like that idea so it all worked out

    Meri, you bring up a really good point... I have also found that when I've provided services for free (waaaay back in the beginning of my business...), those clients were less than ideal and they didn't value the service. They wouldn't take any of the action steps we outlined, and more times than not, they wouldn't stick with the program.

    I am a big believer in reciprocity - there must be some equal exchange for services... whether it be moolah or some sort of barter. As long as there is that equal exchange, value is felt, and everyone wins.
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Jenn_Givler on 23rd October 2007
  • This used to happen to me all the time (I'm an editor at a newspaper). Years and years ago, an ex-boyfriend's father asked me to "take a look at just one chapter" of the book he was working on. How can you say no to your friend's dad, right? So I took a look, red pen in hand, and next thing I knew, chapters 2 through 19 had arrived on my doorstep -- in galley form, directly from the publisher!

    After that, I started telling people who asked for free editing that I'd be happy to help, but it might take me a long time to get around to it, and I was sure they'd understand that I had to do the work that would pay my bills before I tackled favors for friends. And you know what? It's surprising how many people didn't want to wait when "a long time" could mean "maybe a month or so."

    Still working on the flat-out saying "no" part, though!
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse on 23rd October 2007

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