>> Feb 19, 2012
In the cynical world of business, it is easy to forget that business and friends can go hand and hand. Turning friends and family into paying clients can seem a little daunting, but it could just open up a whole new market to you and allow you to spend more time with your nearest and dearest. Having friends as clients can have many benefits – they already trust you, they believe in you and their happy to support you.
The other main return is the run-off effect. Of course there is a run-off effect with all clients, but the run-off effect that you will experience with a friend who is a client is usually ten-fold. Customers who have good purchasing experiences are known to tell at least three people about it. Just imagine how many people your friends will tell about you and the great experience they have had because they already know and trust you. This could open up more doors than you could possibly imagine, not to mention grow your network of clients considerably.
Mixing business with friends
They say that mixing business with friends can be messy...it can be, but there are some tactics you can take to make sure that you preserve both relationships.
1. Acknowledge that they are a friend first – this is extremely important. I always give my inner circle of friends 10% off all products and services to ensure that they continue to feel special. Equally important is letting them know that you are giving them 10% off because they are such a close friend – this is code for, I won’t be giving all of your friends discounts too. If they refer a friend, it is always a nice touch to give them a freebie, a gift basket of products or an even bigger discount when you next see them under ‘business circumstances to let them know how much you appreciate it and to encourage them to continue spruiking you. You should also put them on your mailing or contact list to let them know about special promotions and deals.
2. Make sure you treat them like a client when you are doing business with them and as a friend when you are hanging out socially. A lot of people sub-consciously blur the two and give their friends the ill-service of a sub-standard job. It’s also good practice not to bring up business on social occasions unless they start the conversation. Be honest about your schedules, their expectations and the conditions – grey areas can treacherous so don’t let there be any - discuss everything upfront.
Your friends can be your biggest support and trusted allies when it comes to building up your business’ client base so don’t be afraid to give them business cards and promotional material to peruse and pass on.