‘I don’t do discounts.’ And other stories. (27/01/2012)

Yikes. It’s back. We thought we’d got off reasonably scot-free, but the ‘second’ recession (the one they’re calling the ‘double-dip’) is here. And it’s being used as an excuse, far and wide, for customers and clients to request discounts for the same work you’ve been doing brilliantly all this time. This holds about as much water as an old garden bucket. Here’s the answer.


Take stock

Is the current economic climate killing you? Are you battling right now, and desperate to quote on, and get, every job that comes your way? If so, ‘giving in’ to the client may work for you and get you the thumbs-up you’re hoping for. But please, if you are going to comply, be sure to give the client a good reason** for the discount – not just the bleeding recession!

Alternatively, are you pretty busy? Perhaps not as busy as you were last year, but plodding along, getting most of the work you quote on, covering your costs and being able to breathe when you climb into bed at night? If you are, consider the fact that recessions create vacuums and that smart businesses are those that step into the gaps left by scared businesses. If you can grit your teeth and uphold your prices, you’ll benefit in the medium-term, because customers will learn to take your professionalism, standards and rules seriously.


Give reasons

Call it an NGO discount, a ‘regular clients’ discount or a volume discount. Call it anything you like, but don’t undermine yourself by nodding your head gormlessly and hacking 10{7aef4e5c6853be3cc4d057a807069aa9f2ae8fd184061eb63ea53e14fedec9bd} off your quotation. Say to the client, ‘No, I don’t offer a recession discount. But as you’re a ________, I can offer you my __________ discount. That’s the best I can do for you, because I want to be able to put as much of my time/resources/effort [pick one] as I can into this job. I don’t want you to lose out.’ And put it in writing, on the quote, in bold letters, just above the pre-VAT sub-total.


 Be patient

It also helps to keep in mind that (and I’ve polled widely on this in my field and other industries) the target audience may be more cautious about spending – quibbling over costs, asking more questions, reading the fine print – but those clients who are serious about the product or service are still spending. It just takes a little longer. In this regard, patience is truly a virtue, and while you’re being patient ask yourself, “Is this a sincere client, or is he/she wasting my time?”


Be gentle

I have to admit that I’ve used the recession myself recently – when negotiating overseas travel costs, getting quotes on vehicle graphics and complaining about shoddy treatment at a Parkhurst restaurant. But, and this is a biggie, I haven’t done it to guilt-trip suppliers into giving me better deals. No, I’ve used the R-word to nudge people into giving me better service.

You’d think this self-evident, wouldn’t you? Sinking economy, widespread retrenchment, massive panic; ergo, great service, big smiles, huge effort, nice work… Sorry for you.

It seems that the opposite is, in fact, true. So, while the Big R is no reason to start slashing at your bottom line with a machete, it is a reason to offer amazing levels of service, delivery and reliability. Now more than ever, clients need motivation to hand over their precious loot. They’re probably going to spend it anyway, but they’ll do it quicker with the guy who goes a bit further.