Remember that scene in “Half Baked” where Dave Chappelle tells Willie Nelson “You cool than a motherfucker. I hate that I have to charge you.” Willie even negotiates with him and says “Man, I remember when a dimebag was a dime” Strangely enough, autocorrect just changed dimebag to one word for me… What I’m rambling about above is an example of winding up in the friend zone with your clients. I don’t know about you, but I fucking love my clients. I’ll go to the ends of the Earth for them. When you commit to someone on this level and really care, you become more than just business relations. Want it or not.
This complicates a bunch of shit for some of us.
Anytime you spend an immense amount of time with someone the relationship dynamic changes even if that’s not the intent. I teach in my sales classes that repetition breeds familiarity. The more you do something the more comfortable you become at doing it. It’s hard to work with clients as cool as mine and not end up good friends. When you witness the drastic life changes together as well as share the experience, it’s hard to to become closer as friends. Especially these days with all the ease of access due to facebook. When you’re in the trenches with people you actually like helping, it’s hard not to want to help them out of love and compassion instead of money and capitalism.
So what do you do when you wind up in the friend zone?
Recently, I had to charge like 8 of my crew their 2nd time around fees. In order to hit the second round you have to had broken free in the first 90 days. With each of these 8 people I spent 90 days changing the course of their business and life. Needless to say, all 8 of them are like family to me. In my head I was all wrapped up. I was so proud of these guys/gals that I would have done anything for them. The most rewarding part of my job is watching my clients buy houses, have babies and other cool stuff they can now afford to do. It was time to hit them up for payment again. Asking a stranger for cash is no problem for me. I’m the type of guy who doesn’t like to charge friends though. I wasn’t nervous. The dynamics had changed that’s all. Meanwhile, while I’m nervous about hitting them up for more cash, they are stoked as fuck that they now have all sorts of extra cash. In reality, being wrapped up in my head sucked. The thought from my clients was “Ryan helped me so much, I’ll gladly pay forever without issue for his service.” They wanted to help fund my family’s life as much as I help fund theirs. There’s the other side of the coin too though. What about those people who you hate charging or worse yet, they don’t want you to charge them because you’re friends? Don’t you just hate those people? They overstep their bounds. Do stupid shit you have to clean up and act like they run the place. I don’t personally have people hit me with the “we’re friends” pitch any more. I’ve positioned myself in a place where everyone knows what I do is how I feed my family. If you’re asking for free shit, you’re taking from Jax and Ash.
So what do you say when they hit you with “aww but we’re friends.“
You look them direct in the eye or speak authoritatively on the phone that you ARE friends, but this is a business transaction. i give it to them straight. If they persist with me, I will even start asking them for free shit from their job. When they say “it’s different at my job” I ask how. When you’re attracting great quality people to work with you, it’s hard to keep it professional. One of the things I don’t do, is go out after hours with my crew. I’m their leader, I don’t need them losing respect for me because of a drunken mistake I make.
Lastly the thoughts you’re having about not wanting to charge them, are not the thoughts they are having. If you are serving your clients above and beyond, they will be more than happy to pay you on your agreed terms. Why wouldn’t they be? You are improving whatever it is they came to you to improve. You’ve earned the money right? Get paid on it. The friend zone can be a good thing. Thanks for social media it’s easier than ever to meet cool people who become clients and friends. Keep the agreements clear though. As long as you have written agreements, there can be no mistakes or emotions.
If you’d like to know how you can have clients you love so much you feel bad charging them, hit me up. I’m considering teaching a few lucky people how to build a loyal and effective coaching program.