I’ve got to warn you—today, I am a little bit fired up, but I want you to hear why, and I want you to apply this in your life. This is going to be a combination of a personal finance episode and will also apply to business owners, employees, and then just consumers in general. I wanted to do this episode because I was just listening to Episode 193 of the Real AF Podcast, “Mediations & Manifestations, Charging Friends & Family And Building A Successful Brand.” The part about charging friends and family really hit home.
Quick disclaimer, the Real AF Podcast is an explicit podcast, but I was in the army, and I can take people cussing. I just don’t practice it in my own life. The clip I’m going to play for you will be edited, because I really want you to be able to listen to my podcast in the car with your kids. I want them to be getting these lessons via osmosis as they travel with you. I’m not sure how you listen to your podcasts, but we’ll clean it up for you here. But I’m going to play it for you real quick:
So, we’ve had a version of this question on the show before, it was pertaining to, you know, giving discounts to your customers. Okay? This one’s a little bit different:
Andy, how should I handle charging my friends and my close family and giving, uh, you know, charging them full price for my products, versus just giving them discounts? How should I handle that?
Uh, why would you give your family a discount?
They’re my family.
What do you mean?
What do you mean? That’s Uncle Joe.
Okay, you should be more focused on providing such a great value that your Uncle Joe wants to pay full price…And I tell you why, because that’s your livelihood. That’s how you’re trying to make your money. And I’m one of those people, I won’t accept a discount from my friends. My friends try to give me [stuff], I pay for it. Not because I don’t honor the fact that they want to, ‘cause usually they want to give me things, right? I don’t like that. Because I know how hard it is to own a business…My mom pays full price. My dad pays full price.
So as a business owner, small business owner, this got me fired up. Because this is a huge problem in our society. We are a Use it once, throw it away generation. Immediate gratification. I want it now. I want it on my doorstep tomorrow.
And we’re losing sight of what quality is. Both in the service industry and the product industry–products, goods, and services.
If you own a business, charge the right price for what you’re doing and always be improving customer experience, improving your product, improving your process, training your people, and getting better. It’s not wrong to make money. It’s not wrong to get done with the job, pay everybody, pay all your rent, pay your insurance, pay your taxes, pay yourself and have money left over.
How I Learned to Charge Full Price
That was something I had to learn part way through business. Paying me isn’t enough. I’ve got to pay me. I’ve got to pay everybody else. And the business has to have some leftover, so the business can grow, so the business can get better, so I can continue to serve people better. And if I just barely have everything, and can barely pay everybody including me, and there’s not stuff left over to grow the business and continue to improve, then I didn’t charge enough.
I used to stress so much when I was doing estimates for people. I’d look at that total number and I’d think it was too expensive. And I’d go back over all the line items, and I’d try to squeeze some savings for the client here and there. And eventually I’d just send it because I’d get that number to kind of what felt like wasn’t a ton of money. And I’d always end up working for free for the last week or two on a job.
But you know, one thing I didn’t do, I didn’t do a crappy job because I wasn’t getting paid what I thought I should have been. I did—at the beginning—have a bad attitude about it, which was wrong on me. I improved my pricing. I did a good job, even if I messed the pricing up, because I knew, as a business, it was important to give a near-perfect product every time. Regardless of whether I screwed up at the beginning and didn’t charge enough.
And a friend helped me understand that when I don’t charge the right amount for my services, I’m actually stealing from my kids. Because it says in Proverbs, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.” That’s Proverbs 13:22.
The Family Cost of Not Charging Appropriately
So, when I build businesses, when I grow and I continue to employ people, and I continue to offer good services, the result should be wealth for my children’s children. I should expect that to happen if I’m being obedient. If I am growing professionally, if I’m improving, if I’m pursuing, doing the best that I can do with the talents that God has given me, there will be stuff left over for my grandkids.
Also, if I’m not charging the right price and I’m having to work for free, it’s taking away my ability to be there, to raise them, to do good work and to love people well. So, I have to work more. More hours at the office, more hours underneath the clients’ vanity trying to fix the plumbing issues, or touching things up, or whatever to make sure the job is just right.
And I’m not home at the dinner table to lead in family worship. I’m not home to love my wife in front of my kids so that they know marriage is a good thing. I’m not home to wrestle with my kids, to chase them around the front yard. All the things that cause them to grow up and be productive, God-fearing kids, because I don’t know how to price my jobs right.
Real Friends are Willing to Pay Full Price
If you’re hiring friends’ businesses to do something for you or buying a product from them, don’t expect a discount. Real friends pay full price. And especially in the cases where the business has been successful for a while, you can be confident that in a free market economy, that that price is right and that they’re not selling something crappy or else they wouldn’t be in business still.
Also, I’d like to address, while we’re on the subject, being broke doesn’t make you inherently moral. It likely means that you don’t value your time enough or you don’t know how to work very well. People will always take advantage of you and try to take your time for free, for less than it’s worth, because it helps them out. But that’s not what a real friend does and it’s not bad to know what your time is worth and to charge for it or to learn how to work better so that you don’t have to work as much.
This is not me being an advocate that you charge your friends to come help move or that you are always making people pay full price. No, I’ve done stuff for free a lot for people. I choose to do it. And I’m able to do that for certain people because I charge full price everywhere else. There’s margin left. And as a business owner, I’m able to take that margin and I’m able to spend it to help people. I’m able to donate to fundraisers. I’m able to put that money into projects that have generational returns for hospitality for the community because I’m growing my business, because I’m charging full price and I have made a profit.
One of the reasons we’re in the mess that we’re in, is because good people, especially those in the church, are super pragmatic. They think making money is inherently bad and at the same time want discounts from good businesses, or when they get a quote from a good business, they go and hire the cheaper guy and are surprised that he does a terrible job. Or they don’t buy a quality product, but instead get the one that’s Chinese made and are surprised when it falls apart.
They don’t see that this is wasteful and they’re categorizing it as frugal. If you went to a friend’s store and saw an item that you liked and then went and bought it on am Amazon instead, shame on you. They curated an experience for you and paid for you to be able to find that item in their store, and then you went and gave your money to a global corporation instead.
Now obviously, there is grace for any of us that have done this. And that we always need to be learning. I’m not trying to hit you over the head with this and make you be depressed. I’m just trying to enlighten you in a certain area of your life that you may not be familiar with because you haven’t run a business or because you haven’t seen it from the right perspective or this perspective yet. So, incorporate that in your life now.
Support Great Businesses: Vote with Your Dollar
Go find friends that have businesses that you believe in and buy their product. Find businesses that stand up for the right thing and buy their products. Pay full price. Tell your friends about it.
At the same time, if a business is being a pain, and a business isn’t providing a good service, then vote with your money and don’t support it. And trust that what’s coming in the free market economy, will find them and that you won’t have to go and be mean about it or give them a one-star review. Just vote with your money.
We’ve got to help each other. We’ve got to support businesses that are doing good things out there by paying full price. If you got any value out of this, please share it with someone, help us grow the movement, help us give perspective to others out there. We’ll talk to you next time.