What To Do When Someone Asks You For Free Services

Free services

Written by Ila Bappa Ibrahim

Ila Bappa Ibrahim is an IT Consultant who is currently the Creative Director of Mediahooch Branding and Marketing Agency. In his leisure time, he teaches anyone around who cares to learn. He believes everyone has potentials in them, it only takes the right mentor and dedication to harness those potentials.

September 22, 2020

Have you ever thought of what to do when someone asks you for free services as an entrepreneur? Well, this is the article you have been looking for. Don’t forget to leave a comment in the comment section if you find this article helpful. It is your way of encouraging us to write more. Now ,moving on to the topic. 99.9% of the time, people who ask you for free services or freebies are either family or Friends, those who promise you marketing opportunities, or strangers you meet online.

It is rather unfortunate when people ask for free services knowing well that you run a business and not a charity organization. Along with debts, this is one of the reasons why businesses and startups collapse. It is one of the unwritten laws of business to never associate your family and business.

Read: How To Start a Blog and Earn From Your Room With Less Than Five Thousand Naira

When friends and family pay, business progresses.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give out discounts. Discounts are specifically meant for family, friends, and loyal customers.

When I was new into the business, a very close friend of mine Shetteemah called and asked for a Graphic Design and print. He needed 200 copies. I looked at how close we were and told him the price is 2/3 of the market price. This man furiously scolded me on how I will end my career if I keep giving this type of discount. Even though we never got to do that particular transaction for some reason, I still appreciate what he did there. Discounts should be calculated. If the market price is N10 and raw materials will cost you N7, your discount should never be more than N2.

What To Do When Someone Asks You For Free Services?

Sometimes new business owners and entrepreneurs get stuck in a dilemma when someone asks for a free services. What do you do? What do you say to that person? Having said that, here is a list of things you can do to avoid giving out services for free.

1. Be Polite

When someone asks you for free services, you can politely ask them to pay straight up, and that It is the Business or Company Policy that everyone pays. This should be the standard operating protocol. It should always be your best interest as an entrepreneur. You can also print boldly a copy of your Policy and paste in your workspace to keep people from asking for free services in the first place.

All services to be rendered must be paid for at the cashier’s desk. If you don’t pay today, we might not be here to serve you tomorrow!.

2. Give a Coupon

Give them a coupon or a calculated discount.

This is a coupon from the house, x% OFF! We can’t wait to do business with you.

3. Remind Them Of Bills You Have to Pay

If they are persistent, politely remind them that you have to pay rent and staff. If you don’t have a staff or you don’t pay rent, you most certainly buy raw materials or pay a due or the other. Use those costs as a shield.

We’d love to serve you, but we’ve got this huge rent/wage/bill to pay and it is coming in a few weeks or days. We will need every kobo at the moment. We wouldn’t want anything to disrupt the services we offer you as our client.

4. Form an activity

You can do this when someone asks you for free services.

Our client’s work schedule does not allow us to take any free services at the moment as all hands are on deck.


5. Pay Back From Your Own Pocket

If the free service request is coming from someone you cant charge – your mother in law for instance – make it a habit to pay back to the business from your own personal earning or salary. DO NOT CHARGE YOUR MOTHER INLAW! We don’t want to hear stories that touch the heart afterward. Pay for them rather than render them free services.

6. Use a Business Line

Forward them your business line and ask them to forward their order/request there, your salesperson, cashier, or whatever the name of the person in charge of taking orders is will respond to their orders almost immediately. This is why you need to separate your business line from your mainline. The same reason why you need a business WhatsApp from your regular WhatsApp.

7. Ask For Free Service in Return

Ask them for free service in return. This is only applicable when the person asking for the service has a business too. A favor for a favor, Business to Business. If they can’t serve you for free, then you are automatically off the hook.

8. Ask Them To Pay Later

If you know they have a fair income and credit history, Inform them you’d serve on credit in case they don’t have the resources to pay at the moment, they could pay later. Paying later is way better than rendering the service for free. This has a lot of consequences though; I will digest that in a separate article.

9. Ask For Rescheduling

You also might have come across a number of potential clients or friends who promise to expose your business market because of their influence or relationship to someone or something in exchange for free service. Some of these promises are overly interesting that you render them the services and extra more without even knowing.

If the services they are requesting do not require you to use raw materials/resources or leaving a paid job to render the service, then there is no harm in giving it a try. If you have to burn out your own resources, it is completely not worth it most of the time.

Here is how to get out of situations like that without looking like a jerk:

I sincerely appreciate your effort in trying to make my small business grow big. I’d love to give it a try, but I have got this work around that same time. Can we reschedule it for [when it is practically inconvenient for them]?

10. Craft a Generic Response

For online strangers and acquaintances whom most of your free service requests will come from, masterfully craft a generic message and save as a draft elsewhere. Whenever you come across them, copy the draft, paste, edit where necessary, and send it to them.

Thank you for your interest in our service; however, you are expected to pay 70% of [service cost] as a commitment. Here are our account details [XXXXXXXXXXX]. Once your payment is received, we will begin the process. The outstanding 30% payment will be settled after we render your service complete. Thank you for understanding.

Pro tip: whatever you do, do not address anyone at your workplace informally. Address your parents too at your workplace like you’d address your customers. It speaks volumes to your friends, family, and customers how serious you take your business, while subconsciously making them feel ashamed to ask for free services.

Message to Entrepreneurs

The reality is as a businessman, your friends’ list and your potential clients’ list will undoubtedly keep getting bigger by the day. You will run into bankruptcy in no distant time if you keep giving out unnecessary discounts and free services.

Message to Friends and Families

Your entrepreneur friends love you and they care. But you are most certainly not the only family or friend they have. What will happen to their businesses if all of their friends ask for free services too? All their friends feel close enough to them as you do.

How would you feel if a startup that was supposed to be the next KFC, Uber, Tesla, or Amazon died because you felt entitled and asked for free service?

Because you have a friend who is a cook or has a restaurant, does not mean you will have free food whenever you are there. Because you have a friend who is a makeup artist does not mean they will make you up for free.

Your role as a friend should be trying as much as you can to patronize your friends and family when they start a new business. This is to encourage them from quitting. The pressure that comes with starting up a new business and not getting decent patronage can demoralize the entrepreneurship spirit. You should be the push they need and not the pull they don’t need.

If you really care about your friends and family, support their dreams by paying for services they render to you not asking you for free services.

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  1. Afrokonnect

    I learnt a lot here because I am a kind of person that dislike FREE works


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