So when do you give away services?

Remember (in previous posts) we asked the question about what my welder should do about fixing my Father-in-law's twenty year old trailer. It is showing signs of deterioration and needs refurbishing. Should he charge full-price, half-price, or not at all.

On the business side, I made the argument that he should charge me the full-price.  Some of you, no . . . most of you seemed to think it should be a half-price job. I know it makes some of you do-good-ers uncomfortable to think that my welder is "due" the full price.  But, the need for the refurbishing, in my mind, is not a matter of negligence or quality on the welder's part.  Yes, maybe his work would be better now . . . but that is what comes with experience. So I stand by my full-price expectation.

 So once again, when do you give away services? 

But everything is not a simple business decision.  Plus sometimes business decisions are not about what is the financial short-term "best" for the health of the business. So, in fact, there may be many reasons why the welder might charge less.  But an over-socialized sense of guilt or fear of conflict should not be the reason.

What would be good reasons? I think there are a number of them. I will loosely divide them into two groups: one, for humanitarian reasons and two, for business reasons.


1. First, it should go without saying that if someone really has a critical need and you can provide them what they need to make a qualitative difference then we do it out of a sense of what is right.  We give the hungry food to eat.

2. We also provide to others with critical needs when we can do so without putting others, to whom you owe our primary responsibility (children, employees) in harm's way. Helping out a neighbor with a crisis for example.

3. We give when a gift will help improve the life of others or the community. A social responsibility such as in a time of natural disaster.

4. We give when that gift is a recognition of the another's contributions to others. "I know you serve on the town's volunteer fire department so I am going to give you 20% off."

5. We give when we have abundance and we are thankful for the gift's we have received. This may be a kin to number 3 . . . we give because we have received gifts from others.


6. On a less humanitarian note, we give when we want to demonstrate our skills to a new referral source. So we may offer something free at first to ease the ability of a "trial" of our new service.

7. We give when a new service is developed and we are unsure of its value. Pilot testing new ideas often is done "at no cost" to the participants. The value the organization or business receives is the learning and development of the service or product.

8. We give them away when charging might put the business at risk.  At times there is a grey area (at least in health care) where charging a client may carry some risk to the business . . . a service may not be covered by insurance for example.  Often the service is provided pro bono rather than engaging in some activity that could cause a legal problem.

9. We give away services at times to help build our market or brand.  Want to develop new connections, highlight your business, or establish your company as a good "citizen" within your community? Giving away your time and services can help with all of these.

Well, I'm only at 9 items so I've probably missed something critical.  What are some other reasons to "give it away?"

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