My wife and I love to travel. We travel a lot, flying, driving, cruising, you name it. In the six years since we have met, we have traveled to 48 states and 18 foreign countries. We take an average of 4 cruises, 3 plane trips, and 6 road trips of at least 200 miles each year. We are the high level tiers of frequent customer clubs with one cruise line, two hotel chains, a rental car company, and two airlines.
Everyone we know thinks that we are vacation experts, so much so that our friends and family constantly asked us for travel advice. This happened so often that we thought it would be a good idea to open a travel agency. This business cost us several thousand dollars to set up. To be a travel agent in Florida requires that you be licensed. To get a license, you must be bonded and insured. So we formed a corporation, got our license, bonds, insurance, and went through training with cruise lines, airlines, and other travel companies so we could use their booking systems.
We thought it would be an easy way to make money. Our friends and family asked for our advice already, so all they had to do was book with us and the cruise line, airline, and hotel would pay us our commission at no extra cost to our friends and families. Everybody wins.
A few people continued to ask for advice, but when it came time to book did not book through us, even though it cost them nothing. In essence, getting our advice and using our expertise for free.
We finally decided that we were losing money, so we shut down the travel business (those of you who booked, thank you- we will continue to service all of our current bookings) and moved on to other ventures.
The odd part is that the people who sought our advice but never booked through us continue to expect our help and advice. For free. They even then complain when they didn’t get the best deal possible, wanting to know why we didn’t help them book the cheapest price, get cheap upgrades, or find better deals. Again, for free.
You basically put us out of business, and you still demand freebies. Whoever you are booking your trips through is the one making money off of you. Go ask them for advice. I am done.
To my readers: If any of you provide a service, like doctors, plumbers, electricians, attorneys, handymen, barbers, etc., do your families expect your services for free?
Aaron C. de Bruyn · December 23, 2019 at 8:58 pm
Family and close friends get service for free. It's a very small list. Mom, dad, sister, wife, kids. Service is best-effort. I will help them, but not by 'bumping' a paying client. But I will work after-hours for them.
I refer everyone else to my published rates and a cheaper competitor.
BC · December 23, 2019 at 9:04 pm
I wish I could remember who said it, but the quote was:
"If you're good at something, don't give it away for free"
Might be Scott Adams maybe?
Your knowledge and experience have value. I design systems, and even our quoting process has changed in light of this kind of behavior. Quotes no longer have complete component codes, just short model info: "HMA165 motor" "Planetary reduction drive" "Proportional Valve"… Schematics "to verify function" are no longer available without a purchase order for a system
Ryan Gielow · December 24, 2019 at 4:52 pm
I work with computers and gladly give the level of effort people pay for OR for family the effort I have time for. If they are unhappy with the service I provide, I offer them an immediate refund of their payment. This has worked out pretty well.
When someone approaches me and I smell a freebie angle, I tell them they can be the lowest priority for free, or a high priority at my normal rate.
So far the freebie seekers have been pretty understanding while using this approach of "You get what you pay for"
Basically, if your doing a favor type of service, charge nothing and you can cut it off at any time and any level of effort and point to the lack of payment.
Being clear and telling someone up front how much it will cost them will also weed out the problem "customers"
One last observation: I learned from providing services in a single instance to a lawyer who stiffed me and said so right to my face. What, am I going to sue them for a couple grand? The lawyer fees will be 10x that money and no one knows it better than the lawyer that stiffed me. ALWAYS charge lawyers double and demand half payment before you start any job. This way they cant screw you over. Ive never had a lawyer take me up on the offer. If by some miracle they pay half up front and you finish the job without them expanding scope creep, just cancel the second invoice and consider yourself a Unicorn.
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