Of all the frustrations i encounter from small business owners this would have to be the biggest. It’s a touchy subject because some people just don’t get it but screw it, i’m going there anyway.
Let me start by saying i don’t really have this problem. Most if not all of my friends and family have always been very supportive of my business and happy to pay for services received. 8 years on i am still blown away with gratitude for the support they previously and still give me with my salon, so to them thank you this isn’t about you. That’s not to say i don’t give “mates rates” but ill get to that.
I also don’t want this “discussion” to cloud my passion for valuing your customers, i am a huge advocate of looking after your customers no matter who they are. Loyal and supportive customers most definably should be rewarded from time to time and they deserve it.
So let me give you one example of many many stories i hear in the salon. To protect their identity i will use fake names & a fake business.
I have two beautiful friends Skyla & Yogi. Skyla & Yogi are young, hip & very talented at making lollies. So talented that they have bravely decided to start their own lolly shop with their very own brand of lollies. Now because these two young ladies are so fabulous they have a lot of friends, even more friends than they realised it seemed once their lolly shop starting getting popular on Instagram.
Now can you believe that many of these friends keep coming to Skyla & Yogi’s lolly shop and actually asking for a discount on the lollies? Some have even asked for the lollies for free. Straight out legitimately ask them, no beating around the bush. And i don’t mean just one or two friends total i mean 2-3 A WEEK!!!!!
Now correct me if i am wrong, but I’m quite sure i am not, but if Skyla & Yogi started giving away their lollies to their friends for free all the time what would happen to their business? Ummm yeah, it would go broke & they would be bankrupt, their self esteem flushed down the toilet, miserable and depressed. Im not kidding thats what would happen. Now what kind of friends want that for their friend?
Some of you about now will be thinking, OMG who the hell does this? And some of you could even be friends with Sklya & Yogi and no doubt SOME of you will be thinking, “oh this doesn’t apply to me, I am Sklya’s BEST friend, i am different.” I am here to tell you…… NO…..YOUR……..NOT!!!!!!
Let me give another example. I have 5 immediate family members, who FYI have and always will get their hair done for free in my salon. Those 5 family members have 4 partners. I also have at least 8 people i consider myself to be on “best friend” terms with. So thats 17 people and i haven’t even added on my in-laws yet. If i did 17 people’s hair for free, it would take on average 1.5 hrs each person every 6 weeks (the average time between hair do’s). That’s 1 week out of every 6 i would need to work 25.5 hours FOR FREE! Thats almost an entire week/2 months a year working for FREE!
Now let’s get back to Skyla & Yogi for a second. Putting the friends aside for a second there’s another key issue at play these days; getting free shit in return for social media posts. Can you believe that there are certain big name “wealthy” social lites that have approached Skyla & Yogi claiming to be fans of their lolly brand but then when being told no they could not have the lollies for free, they completely snubbed them off. Because heaven for bid anyone BUY the lollies because they LEGITIMATELY like how they taste. Heaven for bid someone PAY MONEY for a product they like and mention it for FREE and SUPPORT two LOCAL young talented girls just because its a nice thing to do. Sheeeshhhh!
I think i’ve ranted enough, I’ve surely made my point?
So, how to handle mates rates?
- Say no, if they ask they are terrible friends, there i said it.
- Set a rate for friends and family and stick to it. For my business friends & family are 25% off, my immediate family is free.
- Set rates for your staff’s family & friends, i do this and i have 2 different rates for off peak & peak times.
- Look after your loyal clients, they do deserve something back from time to time, this is important.
Now ranting about any issue leaves a bad taste in my mouth, I’m a lover not a fighter, world peace and all that. So i just want to say there are so many wonderful people out there willing and wanting to support local and small businesses. At Spoilt we have SO MANY beautiful and fabulous clients that support us above and beyond our expectations and we love you all & can’t thank you enough, i just want that for my friends.
I would LOVE to hear how other people handle this issue?