A guest blog post written by Wendy Molefi-Youri MD, and founder of Vital Wellness Clinic, Hertfordshire, England.
How dare you ask for a discount??!!
I write this NOT from some moral high ground, and certainly not from some expert vantage point.
A conversation I overheard just got me thinking out loud.
Often as business owners, especially SMEs, our clients will occasionally ask for a discount on our services. Some of us will feel affronted and somewhat undervalued by this, ‘How dare you ask for a discount??”
I get it, when there are overheads to maintain, suppliers to pay and families to take care of, it may come across unreasonable and even downright disrespectful when someone asks for a discount on your valuable services.
The fact of the matter is, someone will ask. Asking for a discount in my view is part of business, it is part of life. It has been going on for centuries. For some cultures it is the norm. Most of us will have some experience of doing it ourselves in a Ghanaian market or a Moroccan souk whilst on holiday. So why should we be offended when our clients ask?
Asking for discounts may cause offence!?
People will ask because they genuinely can not afford the fee quoted. Others will ask because its part of their culture as already mentioned. And of course there are those who get the thrill out of getting the best deal, blame that on the TV shows!! I for one WILL ask for a discount, and I have in the past asked for all the reasons mentioned. Whatever the reason, it really doesn't matter. What have they got to lose after all? Nothing.
When I ask for a discount, I ask very politely, and more often than not my request has been met in some shape or form. Of course there are other times when it has been declined, and life goes on.
I have been granted a discount for professional services when I asked as a returning customer. I have also had my request honoured in a restaurant when I was dissatisfied with the service. Furthermore, I’ve asked for a discount in M&S because of a small mark on a top that I wanted and there was no alternative.
On the other hand, I have had a request declined on a quote for other professional services, and have walked away as the response had been somewhat condescending. On another occasion, I’ve had my request declined with a polite and professional response explaining in a bit more detail the value I was getting as part of the service. For that reason, I went ahead with the quote.
Asking for a discount isn't a personal insult!
Don't get me wrong. I don't spend my life asking for discounts!! The point I make is that when justified I will ask, I am entitled to ask, and its a case of win some, lose some. Life goes on.
I will accept, it is discourteous and unacceptable to ask for a discount after agreeing to a fee, especially when there is nothing wrong with the product.
These kind of situations are neither conducive to business success nor good customer relations. Moreover, they inevitably create a stressful environment that is not ideal for both our physical and mental health and well being.
I am also not advocating that we undervalue ourselves or the services we offer, No way!! That’s a topic for another blog!
How can we respond to discount requests?
So, how could we deal with this as business owners?
It is important to have a strategy, not just from business perspective, but also from a health point of view.
• Be prepared for it, it will happen.
• Pause and breathe before you respond.
• Remain professional at all times, especially when responding in writing. It's a small world, you never know, that client may be the buyer for TK Maxx!!
• Consider the returning customer and the ongoing relationship.
• You may wish to factor a discount into your quote, that’s what they do in the souk in Marrakesh I think!!
• Consider offering a freebie or future discount whilst sticking to your fee.
• State your position in your T&Cs or on your invoices.
• Develop thicker skin and not to take it personally when asked.
• Learn to be comfortable with saying No!!
• Practising mindfulness can be helpful in helping you maintain a sense of calm if the situation is uncomfortable and thus reduce stress levels.
At the end of the day when you offer a good service and add value, your clients will appreciate it.
Just thinking out loud as I said, I would love to hear your thoughts, how do you respond when asked for a discount? Do you like it? Do you give discounts in your business?
Please comment; join the conversation! :)
Dr Wendy Molefi-Youri is the founder of Vital Wellness Clinic, providing a comprehensive health and well-being service for professionals and businesses in and around St Albans.
She is a highly experienced GP with more than 12 years experience, having worked for many years in the NHS as well as the private sector. She is passionate about providing a wholesome approach to health. She is a qualified health and wellness coach and is currently undertaking a Masters degree in Mindfulness based cognitive therapy at Oxford University.