Services: When You Should Give Away Your Services For Free

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How do you handle the temptation to just give away your services (or product) for free when you see someone who really needs it? I know it weighs heavy on the heart of anyone who’s in service because we love people and helping. This can be a tough call… like, really tough!

Personal anecdote: In the past, my husband and I would buy tons and tons of all of my exercise programs. We would line the shelves of my office with them, and anytime anyone asked for a program, we would just give it to them. Until we figured out many years later that when you gave someone an exercise program for free… guess what? They don’t do it! There’s no investment.

Then this snowballed into other areas of our career trajectory. When we got to the point of helping people develop their businesses – putting on seminars that were $1,000 or $2,000 – friends would come to us and say things, like:

“I’m really trying to get my business off the ground!”
“I need to figure out this marketing piece!”
“Chalene, we just don’t have enough business and it’s so complicated!”
“Can you explain to me how to do all these things?”

And I would respond…

“Yeah, you know, you should come to Marketing Impact Academy!”

They would answer with,

“Yeah, I know, I wish we could. Just this happened and that happened and we just can’t afford to travel right now.”

So, that would tug at my heart strings. I’d think:

“Gosh, it’s no sweat off my back. I should just give this to them, right? I mean, it doesn’t really cost me anything to have one extra body in a seat!”

In that first couple of years, Bret and I continued to do just that. Even though we knew better after seeing what happened when we gave people exercise programs or diet books or clothing or jobs or you name it.

See, when you give people something for free – not always, but 9 times out of 10 – they don’t do anything with it. And those are the same people who are always expecting you to do something for them.

It’s almost offensive because they don’t practice any of the things that you help them with. Frustration builds until you’ve finally reached the day when you’re pondering…

”Why am I devoting so much time and energy to this person who embodies an ‘in one ear and out the other’ mentality?”

If you just give away everything, what is learned about the value of effort and hard work?

Here are 2 guidelines that will help you figure out which prospective customers might truly value your (free) services.

1) Are they continually making bad decisions?

There’s no amount of money or free products that can fix that. Period. Yeah, I feel bad and I love them, and yes, I wish they weren’t in this position — but we’re not helping matters by bailing out repeat offenders financially and/or offering services to them on the house.

2) Some investment must be made.

When it comes to offering your services to someone you truly care about – someone you’d love to see make changes and/or improve in their business – it’s best to require some kind of investment from them. For example, time and dedication would be sufficient. Look, it’s no different than the way you are, hopefully, with your children.

It’s time to employ a Giving Policy. This way, each time this situation comes up, you’re not consumed with the same decisions.

Don’t let others rob you of the value (i.e., services) you have to offer. Every time you invest in someone else, even if it’s just your time, it is the ultimate use of your energy.

The next time someone offers you something for free, even if it’s just out of the kindness of their heart (without asking for anything in return), remember what it feels like NOT to take advantage of that opportunity and actually step up and offer to pay for it.

When you say, “No, I appreciate that, I appreciate that very much, but I want to pay for it. At a minimum, I want to pay a discounted rate, something.”

I sincerely promise you’ll get more out of that product than if you had accepted it as a free gift. Guaranteed.


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