February 28, 2011
Other than advice, a remodeler should never give a homeowner anything for free. Doing so potentially lessens the value of all you do and opens the door for constant negotiations, and even worse, re-negotiations of established costs.
Please do not misunderstand. This should not be confused with the concept of "under promising and over delivering." Let's face the facts. There is no one that works for free. Each person and trade gets compensated for their efforts. This compensation is a part of your job costing and affects a project's gross profit if not accounted for when calculating the client's investment amount.
However, not doing or providing something for free doesn't necessarily mean charging money, but there needs to be a value exchange. What you receive in return may be a personalized recommendation letter, a video testimonial, an introduction to a few neighbors...etc. While these extras may not get recouped in the project cost, what you get in return helps create additional business and will offset some marketing costs.
Furthermore, if a client asks for something extra and you provide it without getting anything in return, often the client feels that perhaps they didn't ask for enough. They wonder if there may have been more product, service, and/or discount available from you. Plus this can add an air of distrust. They may ask themselves, "What would have happened if I didn't ask for..."
In conclusion, set up a program and build a client relationship that is mutually rewarding, fair, and equitable for all parties involved.