How did you handle your 1st family and friends discount moment?

by mynameisreeves. Posted on Sep 17, 2020    116    61

For some odd reason, I don't know if it's because of my personality or the way I presented myself but I had very few friends who feel comfortable approaching me about asking for help when I ran my own business. I think a part of it was that I had a regular social media presence where I would post the importance of not disrespecting small businesses by asking for a hook up or a discount because their business is how they survived so a lot of family of friends took that as me telling them don't ask me for anything. Fortunately in, I was able to communicate to them how they can engage me how I can assist them in a way that gave them a benefit but showed them how to respect what I do.



Add 10% on top for the fact that your product will probably be returned if it faulters at all and if your service isn't impeccable they probably will ask for you to redo or more free stuff. Give a friend's and family "price" not a friend's and family discount.


> I think a part of it was that I had a regular social media presence where I would post the importance of not disrespecting small businesses by asking for a hook up or a discount because their business is how they survived so a lot of family of friends took that as me telling them don't ask me for anything.

Gee, you think?

Not saying there's anything wrong with that - I'm friends with the woman who owns my local coffee shop and I always feel bad if I don't AT LEAST work off whatever coffee she gives me by doing some dishes or taking out the trashes or whatever.

But yeah, umm the quoted part is definitely why people aren't asking you. I'm not sure why you're confused as to why they wouldn't - this post comes off as either self-congratulatory or hysterically socially aware.

Enjoy-Life 1

Tell them they get a discount after referring 10 of their (non mutual friends) to you.

Depends on the type of service.

If it's sharing knowledge, I'd do that free. If it's time consuming or direct cost related, no discounts.

Its all in the messaging.

You can also work out barter deals in the cases.

crazedizzled 1

When dealing with family/friends it's either free or it's full price IMO.

3beanz 1

We (DH and I ) own a home service business. It's funny how often someone will call and act like his best friend when they need a favor when in fact I have never heard of them in our 30 years together. We will discount if we want to but never if we are expected to. For example - our parents keep asking for a bill and we won't bill them for their work unless it's pretty major. i would rather not even work for neighbors because I found out the hard way they EXPECT a discount and that really sours a relationship.

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PsychicBitchHotline 1

I do offer a 50% friends and family discount, but it is only when I offer it to them because they did not ask me for a discount. I'm a psychic by the way. At the beginning of my career years ago, I would acquiesce with the free readings, but that shit gets old and I don't read people for free anymore unless it is a trade of some sort. There really should be an equal energy exchange, else you get bitter and grumpy.

So have a discount code and when someone is rude enough to ask for the discount, smile broadly and say "why of course, the code is ...". And you can make it 10%, 50% or whatever you feel like doling out, depending on your mood and how cool of a friend they are lol

One cool thing to do is offer a military discount. I also offer it to veterans, first responders and medical personnel. People seem to be very appreciative and you may even turn them into repeat clients.

ajmartin23 1

Oh this is tricky.

I don’t do discounts for anyone. I recently (3 weeks ago) started a brand of alcohol.

Some people straight up bought a bottle instantly but most friends actually wanted one for free... I said why don’t you buy one and support the business to which one friend replied “oh I don’t really drink that”.
Well why are you asking for a free bottle then?

As others have said, selling at cost doesn’t include all my other overheads or initial input needed to even get to market.

Friends and family should want to support you. Many haven’t bought a bottle but have recommended me to friends or businesses. This is amazing. Can’t ask for more than that!

cocteautriplet 1

I have various businesses selling product online and I just created an F&F discount code of 40%. Sales are still profitable. If it was one of my friends I’d pay 100% of price just to support their business.

beeehjayoh 1

The only person I really do this with is my mom, we have a deal, she pays for the materials and shipping and I make whatever she wants

ghostoutlaw 1

I recognized it would happen eventually so I made a plan for it in advance.

There's a 30% F&F discount that can be applied to anyone who knows me.

A lot of times if I'm actually in the store though and this friend has done something for me recently or the day of (my aunt brought a box of donuts, like artisan shop) so I just discounted the entire ticket.

My business model allows for some freebies here and there though as I'm more volume based.

shitty_mcfucklestick 1

Usually family and friends expect special treatment and require even more management than a normal client. For example, they may message you outside of business hours or engage you at parties and gatherings. They tend to expect more for less because of the relationship. By all standards, friends and family should be paying the most to do business with you. But of course, that’s a tough line to tow with personal feelings and relationships at stake.

I think OP lucked out in how they approached it, because they could now deal with family on their own terms.

Something that can also help is simply set a family and friends discount that you apply evenly, eg 10-15% or whatever makes sense for your margins. But explain that what’s being done and how does NOT change. Set boundaries and let them know they will be treated like any other client - professionally and equally. They can’t message you at night and you’re not skipping steps in your process. Setting that expectation up front should go a long way. You might discover they don’t want to follow the process and end up not going forward - if so, great - you dodged a bullet.

Note: this is in reference to a service business. Retail is likely simpler.

Good2Go5280 1

I tell them that I should give them a discount but they should pay me extra, then I charge the regular price.

bonejohnson8 1

Took the loss because I wanted to seem more successful then I was.

godzillabobber 1

I have been a jeweler for 40 years. Family and friends pay my cost for the materials and get my skills for free. Not worth the hassle or resentment if they are unhappy. If they don't like it, I buy the gold back and either sell to someone else or recycle it in the next casting. On the plus side they truly are good brand ambassadors for me.

jonkl91 1

The type of people I give discounts to are the type of people who have over issue paying full price. The type of people who want discounts are generally the type of people I wouldn't really want to give discounts to (or even work with).

I also have a system where I do free or reduced priced work but I limited that to 1 or 2 people a week.

Eclectophile 1

Trucking company here. I send a guy in a box truck over and move single, or even multiple pieces of freight with no questions asked, no payment discussed for true friends and family. Often, they'll pay the driver cash or show up later with BBQ and beer. If it's a large job, like a move, then I offer a sweetheart deal.

Dranosh 1

Don’t drop your price, but maybe throw in some free that won’t cost you anything but a little time

notlikelyevil 1

It's important in a service business to have a list price and actual price. The list price is for people who take more time but also let's you show or declare a discount when you need to openly have one.

Then if they're pleasant I go a little further down people know if they get a precise amount of discount from list then first know they might not always get that price either.

CompetitiveHousing0 1

I just laughed and said ok, thanks for watching me kids then leave.

bigtrucksowhat 4

If they ask, I charge them more.

If they don’t ask, I usually provide my service at cost.

onthemove1901 5

Haha I like this sentiment. If they care little enough about me to ask to pay less then they obviously aren't real friends.

itsanandosting 2

I run a service repair business and thankfully I have always been profitable. The people i'm close with don't ask me for a discount, but I always hook them up and let them know before they even get a chance. If they are acquaintances I give them a reasonable discount. Friends I usually have them just pay the part or pay my gas, and very close friends and family I don't charge them anything at all. I understand this may not work for every business but this is the way I do it.

Anarkope 2

I learned this piece of advice when I was a freelance videographer.

If you can't give it away for free, don't give them a discount.

Perhaps this doesn't translate well to every small business, but the point is that the value of my work and the cost of my time never changes no matter what relationship we have. However, there is always room for charity and I am more than willing to add my value to something that is important. Don't ask me to make an ad for your business, for free, just because we are friends.

I know, I'm an asshole.

WaterGriff 2

I own a couple businesses and I have friends that own businesses as well. I have told them that I will buy from them at their normal sales price, just like any other customer, and they will do the same for me. Then there are no hurt feelings over someone getting a larger discount, or one of us having to remember if we owe the other one something, etc.

I do help people. If a friend or family member needs assistance I am all for that, and they know that. And I do understand why you may want to give discounts in the beginning to get word of mouth going.

Toast-Hunter- 2

I now have a 10 minutes / $10 rule. Less than 10 minutes and under $10 cost to me, we're within the normal range of favors and I can help.

My close friends and family know how much I hate moochers, so the people I would happily help never ask for it. The requests come in from acquaintances, distant cousins, or sole-operators who are going down the tubes. I started referring them elsewhere. I treat it like any other request for something that's outside the range of what I do. I mean, I get it -- I'm a cheap bastard too, and I understand why people ask for a good deal. But I'm not a discount seller, just like I don't sell hedge trimming or hamburgers.

A lot of what people ask me for are one-offs that can be bought online, so I respond with "Sorry, I can't, try [link directly to suitable item]. Good luck, can't wait to see how it turns out!" I don't explain or try to educate them - there's a thing they want, here's a link to that thing, and I'm not spending hours doing work they don't want to pay for.

paternemo 3

"Friends and Family pay double." I literally say this, no one asks twice.

NewbieMcRedditson 3

I had the property owners step son show up with 15 friends and expect a free session for all of them. They literally showed up with no money. I said that won’t work.

I do get caught a lot being nice to old friends and it 100% always sucks. I don’t know if I’ll ever learn.

scafell279 3

For me it was pretty simple (although did take delicate use of the right tone so I didn’t sound like a complete arse hole) - if friends or family needed me to do a job from which I’d normally make a sizeable profit (my living) I’d charge normal price - since it was my living, and I needed to eat, pay rent and what not.

Instead I’d offer value-add which didn’t take much extra effort from me but played to the social cues of “mates rates”. I mixed this in with some small bits I’d do without any charge at all - because I knew how, I wanted to help, and I was effectively gifting them my time without any expectation of reward like you would with any good friend or family.

My general rule of thumb as to whether it was one or the other was could I fit it in an evening. As that is how it would work if I was full time employed.

Context: I’m started out freelance web dev. I now run my own agency.

Fun trivia: Yes I did get asked all the time to fix their PC or printer. Comes with the territory. I’m used to it now.

bestchicagorealtor 5

This advice may not be applicable to all industries, but it has worked well for me in the last 20 years. Dealing with friends/family can always be difficult and sometimes create some tension in the non professional aspect of your relationship. Friends/Family can sometimes expect discounts AND superior service, which will actually cost you more if it takes you away from growing your core business. Either you are willing to perform the service free (or at cost) or charge full price. Someone that really respects your time and product will have no issues with helping support your business. If they want discounts and think they are doing you a favor, they will more than likely be a headache or drag on your time.

Nahthatsnotright 5

Oh, I have a friends and family discount. It's enough that I could survive just based on that amount, but my friends and family feel like they're getting a good deal (which they are), and they usually tip on top of that, bringing it closer to my full price, but still less than they'd pay for someone else. Everyone is happy, and generally, I get clients based on word of mouth, so it works out for everyone.

handle2345 9

If I trust them and if there is margin in the business model for it, I give them the discount. If I don’t trust them I don’t work with them, though I will get lunch with them to give away free advice without obligating myself to any future work.

If I really can’t make it work with a discount, I tell them as much.

I’m in accounting services, so it might be different than your situation

dugerz 1

I give 10%.

Edward_Morbius 10

I'm own a service business and have two rates:

  • Free - For the handful of really excellent, very long-term friends (like 40+ years), very close relatives and a few people each year that I feel sorry for because life took a giant steaming dump on them.

  • Full Price for everybody else.

    Anybody who doesn't like it can go somewhere else.
itsanandosting 1

i own a service business as well, and i fell like it doesn't have to be black and white though

chrisldavis 3

This. I have the same two rates. Free if you really NEED my services, or full price.

I’m 55 and by now my friends and family know not to ask for a deal.

Dranosh 3

My favorite are the people that hire you at a certain price then bitch saying “I could have done it cheaper” while you’re actively workin

Bobbr23 15

True family and friends pay full price to help support the biz


this is true only at the early stages.

Necroking695 71

Give em just enough to feel special without hurting profit margins too much.

Edit: No you should not operate at cost for a friend expecting them to help spread the word. Odds are their network and yours dont even coincide and you'll grow resentful of basically working for free.

anow2 28

Hurting profit margins?

Your family and friends will become some of your best Brand Ambassadors. Give them some heavy discounts, as long as you aren't losing on each sale.

haykenz 3

As always, the secret is balance of business's mechanics. I agree that you should give discounts to FF's as they are walking evangelists (or should be), but at the same time, they smart way to do it is by having some kind of action > reward. Apply some gamification to it, for example, tag your company in social media and you give them something. Let them bring friends and give them something.

The reason most of new entrepreneurs develop this mindset of "friends should be paying full price", is because the first time they did it they just freely gave stuff with no planning, which affected their margins.

Plus, if a FF complains about it, you just say "sorry, it's the way this campaign (or w/e you call it) works"

anow2 1

Horrible idea, in my opinion.

You really want me to tell my Family "Hey, I'll only give you a discount if you post on social media?"

Quick way to alienate your FF. I can at least speak for your Millenials and Gen Z folk.


It sounds like a lot of people don't give away discounts anymore because they were dumb as hell when they started - how do you not know your margins? You can't build your business off of friends alone, and if you do, you will fail.

Reading through these comments, It looks like quite a few have tried.

haykenz 1

>You really want me to tell my Family "Hey, I'll only give you a discount if you post on social media?"

Chances are you probably won't need to with your inner circle. This "rules" of gamification are best applied to ffs who are not that close to you.

A lot more people than you can imagine do share on their social media to gain some kind of reward, just because you don't like it, doesn't mean a whole generation don't.

The real answer to almost any question here is: test it. You can't know for sure until you do.

Nevertheless, I appreciate your input, is a solid opinion and I respect it.

daytraderz 10


They will hype you up no matter (if the relationship ship is good) what and really want to tell people about it bc they know you personally.

Stop being cheap. Give it to them or discount it and write it off.

Fromagenut 38

Family and friends are the people who 100% should be supporting you by paying full price. It’s one thing to offer them something but they are tone death if they ask.

anow2 10

Supporting by paying full price? I'm not sure what industry OP is in, but what's a few dollars in 1 time revenue compared to a lifelong walking advertisement?


I'm not saying they should expect a discount, but no matter what, give it to them. It will foster a much better relationship, and will make people feel obligated to talk about you whenever they get the opportunity.

Fromagenut 6

They are friends and family they should be a lifelong walking advertisement because they are friends and family.

I have no interest in press due to obligation. I want people to say good things because of the quality of service and product.

Restaurants industry, not a high profit industry.

We occasionally give free items to regulars. If you support us we will support you.

Immediate family parents and siblings we do something special because they don’t live in town and visit only 0-3 times a year. This didn’t happen until we turned a profit. They get 1 free of x item per day but have to pay for the rest.

Investors don’t have to pay until they get their money back.

People who expect free shit drive me crazy. People who try to give us free stuff drive us crazy too. Your time and product has value let me pay for my drink/ meal service. I will do trades but most of the time I want to pay for things to support friends and family.


I actually have a bar I refuse to go to to drink and will only buy bottles of wine to go because he has never charged me when I consume on premise. I don’t always have cash on me and want to pay with credit and tip. He has lost business from me because he gives me glasses of wine for free.

Dranosh 5

You... you do know you can leave him money anyway right?

paper_liger 1

He mentioned not always having cash. What's he going to do, ring himself up and swipe his own card?

Random_User_81 4

Speaking of driving me crazy, how about the friend that gets cost then tells you how they'll always be happy to support your business..... haha

I pay my friends business 100% and promote them, I feel good about supporting them as much as I can.

Random_User_81 5

I completely agree with you and I do this myself with my friends business. I pay full price, I promote them ( if they are good) and I provide constructive critics if they want it. I want to see them succeed probably as much as they want to. I don't need an extra discount or any reason to help them achieve their goals.

I feel a lot of people saying they are great advertising give them a discount, are the friends not actually business owners. None of my friends that own businesses have ever ask or expect a discount.

With that said, friends have always been cost and my family was 100% and are now free most of the time.

On a side note, I hate the.... Hey, I'm so and so's, friend, cousin, second aunt, triple removed friends step sister.....

adamlames 77

Depends on the type of business and your personal preferences BUT in one of my two businesses I ask people to pay “cost.” I created a discount code on my store that buy friends and family use that removes profit margin. I also rely on them to be ambassadors at this early stage of the business and I communicate that to them. It helps.

I have another service-based business and a project is more involved. I don’t offer discounts to anyone in that business but will work a night or weekend or early morning helping family or friends. Much like I’d help them if they were moving homes. If they need assistance on their project from one of my teammates, they pay.

JayRulo 4

Granted not a small business, but I used to work for a large premium tool manufacturer and that's what they did, more or less. The employee purchase program meant employees could buy at Cost + 10% for themselves, their family, and friends (if they really wanted, though it was discouraged to use it for friends)

The markup on some of the items was astounding...

coswoofster 14

This is what my husband does. He gives discount codes so they buy at cost but not everyone gets that either. And just wait for all the “I want to promote your product so give me some for free” people start coming out of the woodwork. Be very selective and only chose partnership that will actually be mutually beneficial. So many people want stuff for free. It’s ridiculous.

adamlames 3

Truth. Truth.

[deleted] 59

Also cost need not be what you pay, it could be cost of running your business minus profit. Your true cost includes overhead.

adamlames 4

Great point.

Lildemon198 21

Just want to give this some more traction. Make sure you calculate cost accurately.

ButtermanJr 5

And I want to give this traction-post additional traction. Make sure you include labour and other costs in your "cost" calculation.