Canadian Contractor

Robert Koci   

Should you do Freebies for customers? Part 1.

There's an old saying: "No good deed goes unpunished." Many people don't know what that means. If you've ever done a Freebie for a customer during a renovation, YOU understand EXACTLY what it means.

It’s natural to want to be generous. As nice as it is for the one receiving your generosity, it’s even better for you and your sense of self worth. Being generous within the context of a renovation contract, however, can be disastrous. I say it’s just not worth it.

Here’s an example: During a full-on kitchen renovation, your customer asks if your tiler can do about six square feet of tile replacement in the front foyer while he is installing the backsplash. She has the tile already and the old tile is already removed. No problem, you say. You’ll throw it in the deal. Your customer is thrilled.

Feels good, doesn’t it? What a nice guy.

Here’s the rest of the story: Three weeks later, the foyer tile starts coming apart. It cracks. The floor is not stable enough and your tiler didn’t put down a thick enough scratch coat. The customer calls and says you have to redo it. In your head you say, “Have to? It was a favour!”

Yes, you have to. Your customer no longer remembers your generosity. All she sees now is her disintegrating floor and an agreement that you would fix it. Never mind that you “threw it in” out of goodwill.

And she has a holdback she has no intention of giving you until the tile is replaced.

And this is the point in the story when you discover the tile is discontinued. Your customer says that absolutely nothing will do as a replacement except a sumptuous Italian import that will cost about the same as your truck.

Still feeling that glow of generosity?

You want to feel you good about yourself? Give to your local youth centre. Volunteer at a shelter. Take the profit from your successful projects and give some of it to a street guy. Give where the giving has a beginning and an end. Where the offer is well defined and limited. Don’t be a giver at work. Within a project, your generosity will too quickly become entitlement, and eat the profits that could have helped someone who really needs it.


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