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Dealing with family & friends?


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This has kind of been a hot topic here lately...how do you guys deal with family and friends? I am trying to run a business, as are the rest of you, how do you deal with people wanting "friend discounts" or family not paying their bills. It seems I try and separate business and personal relationships and in the process end up being the "bad guy". How do you deal with close friends as customers and try to give them a deal but not go out of business by them expecting it every time? Do you just not do business with family or friends?

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I recommend having a written policy. For example, employee's and their immediate family 20% off of book labor & parts at 20% over cost. What ever you decide, do it in writing, and be fair, firm and consistent with policy. Its the appearance of favoitism that leads to problems.

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When it comes to friends and family - Only after hours. You have to separate business and personal. You have bills to pay also. Are they going to help you pay an over-due bill if it comes down to it? Probably not! Your true friends will understand. Family - good luck.

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I guess I'm going back and forth between "Should I be separating business and personal relationships?" OR "How could I separate business and personal relationships?" A little background info on our company. I am in the office and my guy works out in the shop, we live together and work together and have a great relationship. When we go home we are home, we leave shop talk at the shop. BUT now I have friends wanting to do business with us and messaging me about business matters on my cell phone. I think they should be calling the shop. If you want to ask me how my day was call my cell phone but other than that I am trying to run a business and don't have every waking moment to check my phone or facebook messages (I have since deleted my facebook and leave my phone at home). We have friends who work for us. We have customers who have been closer than family growing up, I have customers who are now good friends. If I give every "friend" a discount we wouldn't still be in business. I was looking more into this because we are going on our 3rd year running the shop and I really have no idea how to deal with this situation. I found two great articles, one on how to separate business and personal relationships, the other on how its almost impossible to separate business and personal relationships in today's generation. I'm linking the two articles and copying a little from each.

 

https://drdemartini.com/writings_and_insights/becoming_your_best_in_business#content_top

 

 

Raise Your Standard

Anything you do consumes time. To maximize the value of your time, prioritize your interactions. People who seem less busy and want to consume your time may think you're being rude when you say no to their invitations, but busy people understand immediately that you're just choosing to prioritize and wisely manage your time.

People who don't value their own time want to take up yours with small talk, and if you keep associating with people who talk small, you could end up with a small life. You'll find out what kind of people they are by putting a fee on your time and raising that fee regularly. If people really value your skills and time, they'll pay for it.


"A man's growth is seen in the successive choirs of his friends."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

http://www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2011/05/11/why-i-dont-keep-my-professional-and-personal-relationships-separate/

 

I've been told numerous times to keep my professional and personal lives and relationships separate. But I don’t agree. I choose to work with individuals for the same reason I choose to build relationships in my personal life: shared values. And I firmly believe that it is a rarity to find someone who thinks and feels as you do, so when you do find that combination – why limit it to a ‘professional’ relationship? And thinking about it – what IS a professional relationship and what is the difference in a personal and professional relationship?

I guess some would say a professional relationship limits conversations to more business speak; where as personal relationships and conversations can go anywhere from politics to religion and all through the spectrum. I’m unsure who everyone else has worked with, but the people I’ve worked with have certainly made their belief system known; and I like that. For me, “what you see is what you get” and I hope to work with people who are the same way.

Edited by PARKSINDUST
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I recommend having a written policy. For example, employee's and their immediate family 20% off of book labor & parts at 20% over cost. What ever you decide, do it in writing, and be fair, firm and consistent with policy. Its the appearance of favoitism that leads to problems.

I really like the written policy. that will help for keeping discounts in track for employees and immediate family. Thanks!

 

I know too many people to discount my friends much. They only people who get serious discounts are my kids. I just make sure that I cover costs on their stuff. Hey! My son and his wife make more money than I do.

I feel like this is true for us too, way too many connections being made daily to give a discount to everyone.

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Sort of off topic a bit - have problems with financial end like most here do - but we are a two person shop - one in the shop and one in the office. Another huge issue we have is friends/acquaintances who think nothing of stopping by during the day to have us "just take a quick look" at something or stopping over to chat. I don't stop at your place of work and interrupt your day/work - why is okay for you to do it to us?!?!

I wind up being the b*&^h in the office because many days I am stressed out and trying to move my other half along to get stuff out the door and someone comesup strolling in and I sometimes wind up being out and out rude or give them the silent treatment while I fume inside.

The other half can't say no or be rude no matter how pissed he is - so sometimes a huge amount of time is lost. Makes me insane. I am tempted to stop by their office one day or show up on their job site and return the favor.

We have a fenced in facility that we have taken to keeping the gates shut and even locked and they sit outside the fence and blow the phone up or yell over the fence. Some even open the gate when we have it "fake" locked! I would NEVER open someones locked/shut gate. WTH!

Friend of ours has a body shop around the corner and goes thru the same thing. He has given up and winds up starting his work at 7pm after all the traffic has died down and he can work in peace. But then some jackass sees the light on....

Sorry just venting and would ask for advice on how to handle but know most will just say you have to lay down the law with them and explain you don't have time, etc. - easier said then done.

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Sort of off topic a bit - have problems with financial end like most here do - but we are a two person shop - one in the shop and one in the office. Another huge issue we have is friends/acquaintances who think nothing of stopping by during the day to have us "just take a quick look" at something or stopping over to chat. I don't stop at your place of work and interrupt your day/work - why is okay for you to do it to us?!?!

I wind up being the b*&^h in the office because many days I am stressed out and trying to move my other half along to get stuff out the door and someone comesup strolling in and I sometimes wind up being out and out rude or give them the silent treatment while I fume inside.

The other half can't say no or be rude no matter how pissed he is - so sometimes a huge amount of time is lost. Makes me insane. I am tempted to stop by their office one day or show up on their job site and return the favor.

We have a fenced in facility that we have taken to keeping the gates shut and even locked and they sit outside the fence and blow the phone up or yell over the fence. Some even open the gate when we have it "fake" locked! I would NEVER open someones locked/shut gate. WTH!

Friend of ours has a body shop around the corner and goes thru the same thing. He has given up and winds up starting his work at 7pm after all the traffic has died down and he can work in peace. But then some jackass sees the light on....

Sorry just venting and would ask for advice on how to handle but know most will just say you have to lay down the law with them and explain you don't have time, etc. - easier said then done.

Marista, same here!! No not off topic, still sort of same topic and I am in your same situation. I am in the office, he is in the shop, 2 man op. I know our close friends realize it is just us but new customers don't know that. I actually just got off the phone with someone that asked if Parks could take a look at something "real quick" I responded by saying well we charge 1/2 hour minimum on checkout and our hourly rate is $95 an hour, when would you like to schedule that? He responded by saying "oh you cant fit me in today?" I said no we have customers scheduled for today and the rest of the week. So now that person will go to anther shop and either get screwed over or he will try the repair himself and have it sit in his yard for 3 weeks, either way is it safe to assume he might be back? If not was it really a big loss? If that person doesn't appreciate your time or schedule than should he really be a customer? My man and I have talked out how we communicate when situations like this come up. If it is a regular customer/friend that gives us a lot of business, then yes we might take a look at something "real quick" lol but if its your average joe shmoe who comes in once awhile and rides peoples coattails then tell that person it will be 1/2 hour charge minimum for checkout, he doesn't like it, let him go. Like in the Demartini article above: People who don't value their own time want to take up yours with small talk, and if you keep associating with people who talk small, you could end up with a small life. You'll find out what kind of people they are by putting a fee on your time and raising that fee regularly. If people really value your skills and time, they'll pay for it.

"A man's growth is seen in the successive choirs of his friends."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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...family not paying their bills.

 

Any time I lend money to family or friends (essentially what you're doing if they do not pay upon delivery) I treat it as charity money. If they pay, great. But if not, it is fine, because I had already made it up in my mind that they would not pay.

 

Doing it any other way will lead to grief, frustration, and fractured relationships.

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Any time I lend money to family or friends (essentially what you're doing if they do not pay upon delivery) I treat it as charity money. If they pay, great. But if not, it is fine, because I had already made it up in my mind that they would not pay.

 

Doing it any other way will lead to grief, frustration, and fractured relationships.

 

 

One of the lessons I remember from my father. He would always tell me if you ever lend out money to someone, don't expect it back.

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That is a good lesson to live by. You need to start telling them you just don't have the time. Sorry. If you want to help them out, tell them after hours. Don't let anyone crush your dreams. They aren't true friends if they don't understand. I learned that a long time ago.

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Your friends and family should want to see you succeed. Everyone has to have their car worked on, nothing changes for them. I see nothing wrong with a discount for family members but friends.... that get's hairy. Who do you TRULY consider your friend. You may end up hurting peoples feelings or maybe offering ALL of your customers discounts because they are your "friends"...

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If I worked for Home Depot and my sister or best friend came in to buy something, I would be very, very helpful and would charge the regular Home Depot price. That would be my only choice, because that price is dictated by Home Depot. When we work up the invoice at the shop, our price is dictated by the "total" at the bottom. My niece came in 2 weeks ago to buy 4 tires for her 530i BMW, and she paid full price for the tires and alignment. My overhead is not reduced a certain percentage for certain customers, so I seldom reduce the price. I am a preferred provider for the local hospital system (which I pay a yearly fee for), and their employees receive a 10 % discount, and that is a good thing! The program brings me lots of business. One thing that helps me with the friend and family discount scenario, is that I started in my Dad's NAPA store when I was 6, and he never gave any kind of friend/family discount ever. So that last 54 yrs. of doing it that way colors my thinking compared to the experience of a fairly new shop owner or shop owner couple. Some folks are new in business and some of their friends/family may want to ride that relationship onto a discount, but I think it needs to be handled with exemplary service instead of a discount. Discounts can kill the bottom line. Genuine Parts Company (GPC) put out a booklet in the 1960's entitled "Daily Controls for Month-End Profits." A couple things it focused on were controlling your overhead and and offering cut-rate pricing. I often think of that booklet when I am pricing jobs, looking at daily numbers, and in general running my business.

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  • 2 years later...

I recommend having a written policy. For example, employee's and their immediate family 20% off of book labor & parts at 20% over cost. What ever you decide, do it in writing, and be fair, firm and consistent with policy. Its the appearance of favoitism that leads to problems.

I realize this is an old post.

 

We are clarifying our written policy. Who is included as immediate family? We are listing what immediate family is included.

 

"Immediate" is being stretched so we are going to define "immediate". Where does the line get drawn? Wife, kids living at home, mom, dad. Step parents? Wife's parents? My mom raised him, he's like a brother to me? My girlfriend I live with but we're not married? My baby momma that I don't live with? Can you see the stretch? TIA

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If a person is the brother, father, son, mother, sister, etc. of the manager of the local Home Depot store manager, that person "may" get a 10% contractor's discount. I believe that is all.

 

With that said, my friends and family members get standard pricing at my shop, because it costs the same to service/repair their vehicle as it does anyone else's. We strive to give them the same excellent service that we give our other clients.

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Something I learned a long time ago is that people can't do to what you don't allow them to do. If they are there because they truly want you to work on their cars or are trying to give you business then I could see a small discount.

If on the other hand they are there because they are trying to get something for free, then you should charge them . Some times all it takes is a reminder that this is how you earn your living and feed your family and the true friends get it.

The rest should be overcharged and sent on their way, they don't care about you or your business. The sooner you sort them out the easier it becomes.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Sort of off topic a bit - have problems with financial end like most here do - but we are a two person shop - one in the shop and one in the office. Another huge issue we have is friends/acquaintances who think nothing of stopping by during the day to have us "just take a quick look" at something or stopping over to chat. I don't stop at your place of work and interrupt your day/work - why is okay for you to do it to us?!?!
I wind up being the b*&^h in the office because many days I am stressed out and trying to move my other half along to get stuff out the door and someone comesup strolling in and I sometimes wind up being out and out rude or give them the silent treatment while I fume inside.
The other half can't say no or be rude no matter how pissed he is - so sometimes a huge amount of time is lost. Makes me insane. I am tempted to stop by their office one day or show up on their job site and return the favor.
We have a fenced in facility that we have taken to keeping the gates shut and even locked and they sit outside the fence and blow the phone up or yell over the fence. Some even open the gate when we have it "fake" locked! I would NEVER open someones locked/shut gate. WTH!
Friend of ours has a body shop around the corner and goes thru the same thing. He has given up and winds up starting his work at 7pm after all the traffic has died down and he can work in peace. But then some jackass sees the light on....
Sorry just venting and would ask for advice on how to handle but know most will just say you have to lay down the law with them and explain you don't have time, etc. - easier said then done.


People wanting to come in and talk to you and spend time with you it's really a blessing. You make your business run by developing a fanbase and you shouldn't be complaining about having people who like you enough to take time out of their day and hang out with you. Be grateful for that. Politely let them know that you have to get back to work so you can talk to him the next day!

Sent from my SM-T800 using Tapatalk

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On 1/28/2015 at 7:54 AM, mspecperformance said:

 

 

One of the lessons I remember from my father. He would always tell me if you ever lend out money to someone, don't expect it back.

One of my favorite sayings "If you lend someone $100 and never see them again, it was money well spent."

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  • 6 months later...

Employees pay cost for parts and don't pay labor. But, they have to fix it themselves. After hours. They can fix their immediate family's ( people who live with them ) vehicles the same way. Everything else gets billed out normally. After they've spent 10k or so they get a 10% parts and labor discount. Same as fleets. After everyone gets their cut, I still want mine. We have a minimum charge 1/2 hour if you want a set of eyeballs. Usually we say Yep it's broken do you need a loaner car or a ride home?

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  • 5 months later...

This is definitely something we have dealt with in the past. What we have resorted to doing is employees and those who live in their house get parts at cost plus 10% to cover sales tax and labor is free if they do it after hours. For everyone else (extended family and friends of myself and all employees) it has to be normal pricing. As a result, we rarely have the family/friend issue and few of our family bring their vehicles in. 

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