Get All Access for $5/mo

From Awkward to Awesome: A Guide to Handling Family and Friend Discount Requests Like a Pro "So, what's the special price for your friends?" Here are some tips on handling such situations with grace and professionalism.

By Rodolfo Delgado Edited by Micah Zimmerman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Every business owner has experienced that moment when a friend looks at you with puppy eyes and says, "So, what's the special price for your friends?" #Awkward

Handling such situations with grace and professionalism can be tricky, especially when balancing your relationships with the realities of running a business. In this article, I'll provide an expanded guide on tackling friendly discount requests without compromising your business or friendships.

Send a "Friend and Family" announcement early

One of the best ways to prevent awkward discount requests is to set clear boundaries from the beginning of your business venture. Let your friends know that you have to treat them as regular customers to maintain your business's integrity and financial stability. You can approach this conversation casually but do it firmly, so your friends know where you stand.

When launching your business, you might also consider sending out an announcement to your friends and family detailing your pricing structure and any special promotions available. This can help to preemptively address potential discount requests by making your policies clear from the start.

Related: How to Drive Customer Referrals (When You Aren't Airbnb, Dropbox or Uber)

Inject a little bit of humor

The objective is to keep the conversation light-hearted while being clear and firm about your pricing policies. At the end of the day, it's essential to have a clear and consistent pricing policy for all customers. If anything, friends should be helping your new business grow! So ensure your friend understands that your prices are set and that you don't make exceptions.

I usually begin with a little bit of humor. "Alright, I'll give you the exclusive 'Best Friend Discount,' which comes with a free hug and a friendly reminder that you owe me a favor." Most of the time, they'll simply smile and let the moment pass. Another idea is to say, "Sure, I can give you the 'Friends & Family' rate - the same price as everyone else, with the added bonus of knowing you're supporting my business!"

Related: Don't Offer Customers Discounts If You Want to Be Successful

Offer alternative benefits

If you've tried the funny route and your friend is still insistent on a discount, consider providing alternative benefits. Offer exclusive deals or promotions available only to your social circle. For instance, you can provide a free consultation, complimentary upgrades or special bundled packages. By doing so, you'll still demonstrate your appreciation without undermining your pricing structure.

You may also create a referral program where friends can earn rewards for referring new customers. This helps your business grow and offers your friends a chance to receive a discount, bonus or even cash as a reward for their support. Explain the program to your friends so they understand the potential benefits and feel valued.

Reciprocity may work for both

So you've tried humor and offering alternative benefits, and your friend is still insistent — yes, those exist. If they matter to you and have a valuable skillset for your business, consider proposing a barter system or a professional exchange. For example, if your friend is a graphic designer, they can create promotional materials for your business in exchange for your services. This way, both parties can benefit from each other's skills without affecting your revenues.

Tip: Ensure that both parties agree on the value of the goods or services being exchanged and consider creating a written agreement to avoid misunderstandings.

Related: When Friends and Family Become Financiers

Express gratitude while standing firm

Some friends may try to push for a discount even after you've given them what seems like every option available to your business. In these cases, the best thing to do is show appreciation for their wanting your business while standing firm in your decision.

Remember that your prices reflect the time, effort and expertise that goes into providing quality services. There's always that person that says, "Oh, common, this took you less than half an hour!" You may respond:

"Sometimes my job takes twenty minutes, but I have a lifetime of experience that allowed me to do that."

Thank them for considering your services and assure them they'll receive top-notch quality and care. Maintaining a positive and appreciative attitude can help preserve your friendship while protecting your business interests. Remember, true friends will understand and support your decisions.

Educate your friends on the value of your work

It's important to help your friends understand the value of your services or products. Educate them on the costs associated with running your business and the time and effort you've invested in acquiring your skills. Be open about your passion and commitment to providing high-quality products or services, and explain how offering discounts could negatively impact your business. Friends who understand the intricacies of your work will be more likely to respect your pricing and support you without seeking special treatment.

Consistency is key when it comes to handling friendly discount requests. Stick to your policies and avoid giving in to pressure, even if it comes from a close friend or family member. You'll establish a strong reputation as a fair and professional business owner by consistently applying your pricing structure and standing firm on your decision.

Rodolfo Delgado

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

CEO of Replay Listings

Rodolfo Delgado is bringing transparency to the real-estate industry. He created Replay Listings, the first listings platform in the U.S. focused on unedited video content.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Business News

How to Be a Billionaire By 25, According to a College Dropout Turned CEO Worth $1.6 Billion

Austin Russell became the world's youngest self-made billionaire in 2020 at age 25.


Taylor Swift Has a Lucky Number. And She's Not the Only High Performer Who Leans Into Superstitions to Boost Confidence.

Even megastars like Swift need a little extra something to get them in the right mindset when it is game time.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.


SEO Trends You Need to Be Aware of Right Now, According to a Seasoned Pro

Navigate the future of search engine optimization to elevate your online presence and drive meaningful engagement.