As a business owner, it is vital that you understand your worth. That you understand what your business, your time, your knowledge and experience is worth, after all, that is why we are in business. We know we have the skills, knowledge and experience to be able to provide a quality service to our clients and no matter how many business you run, however disparate they may be, your knowledge and experience will have taken you years to amass, so you need to put a realistic price on that!

A few weeks ago, whilst attending to another business I run with my husband, which happens to be an Event Catering business, we had a meeting with a client regarding an event he was holding. We discussed menus, and costs, and all was good with the world, until he asked the question “by the way, how is your VA business doing these days” “very well thank you, several new clients, I have just started offering a Virtual Office service as well, so yes, very well thank you” I replied. “Oh good” he said, “because I want to pick your brains, I have a little side-line, of selling defribrillators, and whilst I can sell them without a problem once I have the customer, my issue is, I need some advice on how to get the phone to ring, how to actually get the customer to call me, what you would suggest I do” Of course I told him, there were various ways to approach it, and as I had his email address, I would send him a proposal. “Oh god no” he said, “I don’t want to engage your services, I just want to pick your brain”!!!!brain

So…. He wanted me, to provide him with ideas to increase his business, at no cost at all, because he knew I had the knowledge, and experience in that area and provided the exact same service to paying clients!!! This is totally unacceptable, and supposing I had suggested that he install ‘FREE OF CHARGE’ one of his defibrillators’ at my office, so that I could show people who passed by, how great they were!!  The cheek of the man. He tells me that he makes a good living out of selling these things, he wants to sell more, but doesn’t want to pay me to help him achieve that!! hmmmm – ‘Drive on Buster’

Examples of this type of practice are rife. Only recently again, I was asked to cater a function, now don’t get me wrong, whilst we are wholly professional, and in business to provide the best quality service for the price we quote, we are not ‘skinny’ with our portions when it comes to catering and often, when we return to collect equipment, we are praised for our generous portions. So recently, we were asked to produce food for an event, for a particular sum of money. No numbers were indicated, so, we produced food, as requested, to a certain sum. We received a call from the venue, advising us that, the client had advised, they were ‘big eaters’ and needed to ensure there was enough food, which the venue manager didn’t think would be enough. His suggested was to make enough food for at least 15 more people at no extra cost, because…. Wait for it….. “He couldn’t afford to lose the annual booking and needed to make sure they were happy” – I ask you, is that right! As a gesture of goodwill, we did actually produce the extra food, but suggested to the venue manager they get someone else to provide for this event next year, however, I did say to him  “let me as you this, what would happen if we secured a wedding booking which was a substantial booking for us and it was to be held at your venue, and the Bride & Groom, turned around and told us that they were going to another venue, with in-house catering simply because the beer was 20p per pint cheaper, would you reduce the cost of your beer for the night by 20p if we told you we couldn’t afford to lose this booking?” I was wet with a “hmmm see what you mean”something-for-nothing

I hate it when I get an email or message from someone who starts off  by saying “hi, do you fancy a coffee, I need your advice on something, or I need to pick your brain” or “I have a great business idea which I want to run past you” or  “I’d like to meet with you to discuss some mutual business opportunities” you know exactly how these meetings are going to turn out. So, how do you deal with people who want something for nothing?

Up front and honestly – “I’d love to have coffee, I’ll check the diary and see when I am free, meanwhile, I’ll email over my consultation fees and we can talk about your ideas when we meet” This approach puts you firmly in control of the situation straight away and there is no confusion, and you are making it perfectly clear your time, knowledge and experience has a value. If they do want to hear more and are happy with paying a fee, you will have a customer who values your worth and therefore their own worth! If they return with a comment such as “I’m on a tight budget and I really wanted to just pick your brains before I go further, simply say “no problem, you have my details, but if you want to take a look at my website that will give you a good insight into the services I do provide, and when you are ready we can have that coffee!” – Don’t give in and offer a discounted service, have respect for your business!

Turn it around – In my examples above I cited 2 incidents where people wanted something for nothing, turn the situation back on them. Advise them that you charge for your services and suggest that if you asked for a similar service would they be prepared to reciprocate. My recent experience of a venue asking for additional food to keep HIS client happy and to retain the business and such as the now famous example of a Bar owner asking for bands to play for Free.  something-for-nothing1This type of approach quite often makes people think twice.

I read a great quote recently – “If they want to pick your brain, ask them to pick a time and method of payment”. via @marieforleo

So … if you would like the services of a good VA, with experience and knowledge in abundance, and are happy to pay for it, I would love to hear from you.





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