Today’s excuse is: “[Army wives] always expect stuff for free.”
There’s always going to be a certain group or a certain kind of person who feel they are “owed.” Keeping the freebie-seekers at arm’s distance takes practice and confidence. Let’s break them down into three main groups:
Your kid’s school’s sports teams expect you to donate services left and right. The law firm next door is pressuring you to donate chair massage for their employee appreciation day. Your mom’s gardening group is doing a fundraiser. All these people try to attract you with: “You’ll get lots of business!” Yeah, I know you want to be helpful. I know you want more exposure for your practice. But ask yourself, what comes first right now? Building up worthwhile clientele or donating your time? I strongly recommend picking one charity and focusing only on that. When I managed an agri-tourist farm we got donation requests from everyone. It was a relief and pleasure to be able to say, “Purple Haze focuses its donations on farmland and stream reclamation.” It was very freeing. My guidelines were clear. Requesters knew what my boundaries were. I do feel we have a responsibility to be charitable. I don’t feel you should deplete the health of your Work in the name of charity. It’s like eating: pick a healthy limit and stick to it.
Potential Clients Who Expect a Deal
These are the people that get my trainer’s knickers in a twist. With her, it’s the Army wives that feel Entitled. Let me just say right here that I am an Army wife. I am very grateful for all the Federal support that is available to me should I need it. What gets a lot of Army spouses are the few that feel Entitled — by sheer dint of being a military spouse — to elevated level of privilege. (Whew! Okay. Deep breath.) So what do you do when you get people who ask for the sun and the moon? Do you feel like you will lose a potential client if you don’t give them something extra-special just to get them through your door? And those to whom you’ve delivered the sun and the moon, how did that client work out? Did they suck the life out of you? Or did they turn into a great, regular client who recommends you to their friends? Really? I am asking. There is nothing wrong AT ALL with people asking if you have discounts for certain things (seniors, disabled, bulk rates). There is something wrong with people allowing you to feel like you OWE them just because they’re potential clients. Start each business relationship off on an honest footing. You will get and keep better clients that way.
Or friends of friends. You know the ones. “I’ll talk you up to all my friends!” “We can do trades!” These are tough to turn down. What if this person gets mad at you for declining their offer? What if you agree, you fulfill your half of the bargain, and then they disappear? Me, I just don’t do free. Free — in financial terms — means a devalued, throw-away item. If all someone wants is “free” then they need to look elsewhere. Now, if they value my service, are low on cash, and are trying to find an out-of-the-box solution, I am happy to work with them. What’s worked for me is a “friends and family financial exchange” where, for example I give them a deal at $100/hour and they give me a deal at $50/hour (or whatever). They pay me $100 for an hour’s consultation, then I promptly turn around and schedule two sessions at $50 each. Actual money exchanges hands, but it is essentially a trade.
Now that I start thinking more deeply about this, I am very interested to hear how you cope with “friends'” expectations?