Heath Ledger’s Joker starring in “The Dark Knight” tells us, “if you’re good at something never do it for free.”
Is this true? Should we always spend every ounce of our skill towards the effort of increasing the bottom line?
It depends who you ask, but whether you’re a law firm, a photographer, a restaurant owner, or pretty much any other business owner, you know there is still value in offering certain things in certain circumstances “for free.”
Your business is just that, a business, an entity designed to be a means to make money. So the idea of giving away anything for free sounds like an oxymoron when you’re in business.
However, like any mid-level business course or life experience will teach you, there is more to the business world than bottom lines and exact numbers. An evaluation of any business involves multiple facets, including client lists, goodwill, reputation, etc., all things that do not necessarily equal an exact dollar figure.
Sometimes, not charging someone a fee can be to your benefit. And we are not just talking about doing a favor for someone, because nearly everyone, yes even lawyers, have friends they are happy to do favors for with no charge (assuming lawyers retain their friends after constantly working). There are times where a client might influence a certain sphere, and having your name out there in that sphere might be worth more than any currency you would normally charge.
Or if you are a photographer/videographer, it is likely you can use practice and material to build your portfolio. I can personally attest a wedding couple who is trying to adapt to changes in their planned wedding could use a photographer who is willing to slash their fee, and if you are one of the previously mentioned professionals who could use more practice, this opportunity is gold.
As mentioned above, reputation is extremely valuable in any client-based industry. “I just really want a ____(insert desired professional here) who cares about my situation and can appreciate what we are trying to do, and they are not just looking for a paycheck.” Can you imagine the image you build when you have someone who can answer without sounding like a staple Google review?
“Joe Professional and his partner Jane Businesswoman were so helpful and they helped me out when I was in a tight spot, and while they are working professionals, they did not try to nickel-and-dime’ me.”
In conclusion, there are 3 primary benefits (and many others) you can obtain in a client-based business by discounting or offering things for “free.”
- Reputation – with not only word of mouth bringing you new clients but your rep retaining old ones
- Your product/service circulating – it sounds like the first one but recommendations are one thing, other people being able to see your work firsthand is entirely different
- Practice – your skills, product, process all get put to the test in an effort to prove to the commercial world that your business is one worth checking out
If you have questions/needs to modify certain contracts to still ensure you get something despite waiving certain fees, contact Eden Law PLLC for contract drafting assistance.
Written by Christian R. Dudley