Mates rates – Is it worth it?

As a painter and decorator, I’m sure you’ll have been asked hundreds of times:

‘Can you do mates rates?’

When you are starting out, it is very tempting to do discounts for friends and family as it helps fill your diary.

But is it worth doing?

In my opinion…


Don’t get me wrong, I’ve sold things at ‘mates’ rates’ plenty of times over the years, and I occasionally still end up doing it now.

Even though I know better.

Here’s why I think we should get rid of ‘mates’ rates’ altogether:

When you discount your prices for friends and family, nobody gets a good deal.

The first and most obvious person to lose out on the deal, is you.

You work just as hard, for less money and usually at unusual hours (evenings and weekends).

The second person to get a bad deal is, your friend.  

Yes, they don’t pay as much as you normally charge. But because you are not charging them as much as usual, you are unable to serve them in the way you would like to.

As we mentioned, you’ll end up doing the work on an evening or at weekends.

(After all, you don’t want to do it in the day, as you work for your normal, better paying, customers during the day.)

This means your mate ends up waiting much longer for the job to be completed.

What might usually take you 1 day, now takes you 3 evenings.

It is also difficult to find the motivation to start the job.

This is understandable… I mean, not only does it not pay well, but you also have to do it during your precious free time.

So, your friend ends up waiting longer than usual for you to even begin the work.

If that wasn’t enough, once you’ve finished the work. It can get even worse.

Say there is a problem with the job.

You’ve made sod all money in the first place and now you’ve got to go back and fix something.

You’ll obviously delay doing this, as you’ve got other more important things to do. (Such as all the paperwork and marketing stuff you didn’t have time to do last week because you were painting your mate’s house on the cheap!)

Before you know it, you and your ‘mate’ are not quite as friendly as you once were.

In your eyes, they are being unreasonable asking you to come and sort out problems at the drop of a hat

And to them, you are being rude for not doing it. Afterall, they did pay you!

Basically, if you don’t charge your normal prices, your ‘mate’ gets a worse service, and you make hardly any money. Nobody wins.

What do we do now?

Well, I think the next time anyone asks for mates’ rates you need to politely explain that you’ve been down this road before, and nobody wins.

Explain it is not worth it for either party.

You’ll do the job at normal price or you won’t do it at all.

You’re doing this because you want to make sure you can give your mate the best service possible.

Otherwise you could just end up resenting each other!

The extra bonus?

Well, the usual trap of doing a discount for friends and family is when you do it once, you get asked to do it again and again.

Before you know it, you’re busy as hell, but you’re making NO profit.

Your friend thinks they’ve done you a favour by recommending you, but really, you’re pissed off with them because you’ve got to do yet another job for no profit!

This will no longer be the case when you always charge full price.

Any recommendations you get now are welcomed. Because you know it will be good quality and profitable work.

You can even afford to buy your friend a bottle of wine (or case of beers) as a thank you. Win Win!

What do you think? Do you do mates’ rates?

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Check out my book ‘Sales and Marketing for decorators’ for more tips to help your business here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sales-Marketing-Decorators-Jon-Mears/dp/B08L78Y8MX/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1605205324&sr=8-1

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