my desk

Typical entrepreneur’s desk (Photo credit: fensterbme)

It’s happened once again, folks.

A client has asked for a discount on her very first project — claiming that she’ll make it up by giving me more work in the future.

Oh, and this person asked for a discount after I’d finished editing her work and bringing it in under the amount we’d first agreed upon.

Should I give a discount to my clients?

What’s wrong with discounts?

  1. The client wants to try YOU out. There is no benefit to you.
  2. There is no guarantee of future work and, even if there was, why shouldn’t you make your usual rate? If a client wants your work, shouldn’t you be compensated fairly for your time? Again, no benefit to you.
  3. Discounts mean you will make less than your fee. Now, that’s OK to offer a client who’s been with you for a while.

There’s an interesting wrinkle to this story.

When I first bid the project, I bid a flat rate. The client actually sounded relieved that it would only cost that much.

When the client came back with some additional requests, having approved what I’d video edited, I gave her a price on each one, explaining exactly how long it would take me and what my hourly rate is. I charged her in 15-minute increments for this new work. I believed mine to be a thoughtful and money-saving response. Which also took me at least half an hour (unbillable) to write out for her.

Discounts: Perception is everything

Apparently some clients, especially ones who live in a small town, go berserk when they become aware of a fair hourly rate. They expect everyone around them to make $25 to $50 per hour, not $100 and over — even though living in a small town is usually no less expensive than living in a major metropolitan city except for, perhaps, the expenses of gas and car wear and tear.

So, yes, this woman really reacted strongly to my hourly rate, $100. Even though it had saved her money so far.

Even though I spend most of my time in a small town, the government, my hardware and software vendors, and utility companies really don’t care where I live when they charge me for products and services. I pay the same as any big- or small-city business person for health insurance, self-employment tax, computer and software expenses (roughly $3,000 per year), office supplies, office overhead, continuing education, and many other items and hours that I can’t bill directly to anyone.

So, I wrote back right away, explaining that I couldn’t give a discount at this time. Did she still want me to proceed, and on which parts of the project?

I haven’t heard from her, and it’s now been more than a week. I consider this more than rude. It took more than a month to hear from her, and I wasn’t able to help her out at that time.

So, yes, I did get to try out this client before engaging in a larger project. Thank goodness.

I’ll leave you with this thought. Would you ask your plumber, lawn care service, or Lowe’s for a discount that wasn’t offered initially? So why do so many people believe it’s OK to ask someone with a computer and mad skills for a discount?

Somewhere, deep down, these folks believe that they, their nephew, or neighbor’s cousin’s girlfriend can do the same job you can — or at least one that’s very close. Some callers even say as much. And to that I say, then why did you call me?

The process of educating people never ends, but I may need to leave it to the locals and return to the Big City.

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"Should I give a discount to my clients?"

by susan time to read: 3 min
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