Canadian Contractor

Steve Payne   

Should you do Freebies for customers? Part 2.

Marketing & Sales

Yes, you can do a few favours for free - in the context of a much bigger reno. But don't just blurt those offers out. Do them only after careful consideration.

really Geez, that’s a sad story that Rob tells in his column, Should you do Freebies for customers? Part 1.

Contractor wants to be a nice guy on a kitchen reno, offers to throw in an hour of tile-setting in the foyer for free – and it ends up costing him a whack of money.

“No good deed goes unpunished.”

I’ve always disliked that nasty, negative saying.

It reminds me of people who have signs on the walls of their offices that read: “A lack of planning on your part is not an automatic emergency on mine.”

Nice. You know you’re dealing with someone with a bad attitude, as soon as you see that sign. You know the person with that sign posted will never have your back. It’s a sign of bitterness, fatigue and cynicism.

Anyway, back to Rob’s contractor being punished for his niceness. What really went wrong?

It’s not the freebie. It’s that that the freebie was offered compulsively with no planning. And this is the how too many contractors fail Sales 101. They just blurt stuff out.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with offering to “throw in” a short time-span freebie for a really great customer with a large project. But it can’t be thrown in casually. It has to be planned. It has to be treated with the same diligence you put into your paid work.

All that the contractor needed to do in this case was to use his head. Why were the existing floor tiles missing? Who took them out? Why were the new ones sitting right there, yet not installed? Could it be that there was something wrong with the sub floor? Is this something only Stephen Hawking could have figured out? Seriously?

The generosity is not the problem. The generosity is going to keep this contractor busy with projects for the rest of his career – if he is smart about deploying it.

Yes, you can give a few hours away. Don’t turn into Ebeneezer Scrooge just because you’re too lazy to investigate the onsite conditions of small favours you should still be doing.





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1 Comment » for Should you do Freebies for customers? Part 2.
  1. Michael Campbell says:

    Doing freebees is risky, especially for new contractors with minimal experience trying to create a client base, my advice is be careful. Extra work done free of charge is not recoverable at tax time unless it is for charitable purposes. Several years ago while renovating a pizza shop in Sydney, Nova Scotia we were working inside completing finish work, installing cabinets and work stations in the kitchen. Unknown to me as supervisor, the client had asked the carpenters to install additional shelving made from, off-cuts from sheet goods used in the millwork. She thought the request was minimal and should be free. Upon questioning the lead carpenter, he told me about the request to which I reminded him and the crew that client requests for extra work not in the contract were to be referred to me for consideration/pricing and or approval.
    The client arrived on the job the next day and once again picked up small pieces of plywood and asked the carpenters to make shelving for pizza boxes. The carpenter then referred the client to me as instructed.
    I spoke to the client who once again wanted the work at no charge. Attempting to protect my company interests and to help the client understand. I respectfully offered the following as explanation for additional costs. So, I asked her, if after the restaurant is open for business and I order a pizza with extra cheese can I get the extra cheese at no charge ? She replied, “certainly not, everyone knows cheese is very expensive.” I replied, true cheese is expensive and extra shelving is like extra cheese to me.

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