Key Podcast Highlights

Why Is It Beneficial to Give Freebies to Your Customers?

  • Giving away free stuff or freebies typically doesn’t cost much but can have a big return on investment by keeping your customers happy.
  • Freebies are also a way to show your existing customers that you care. You can give them a card at Christmas or a discount on something. For instance, if they’ve been a customer for five years, maybe you give them a 10% discount.

How Should You Handle Disputes Over Products or Services With Customers?

  • Don’t argue with your customers when it comes to disputes over products or services. If a customer isn’t satisfied with the work performed, don’t go into who is right or wrong. It’s usually only a matter of a few bucks and you shouldn’t charge your customer for it, especially if they’ve been a good client.
  • You should maintain a long-term view when it comes to your customers to help keep them coming back for years to come.


The views and opinions expressed on this podcast are for informational purposes only, and solely those of the podcast participants, contributors, and guests, and do not constitute an endorsement by or necessarily represent the views of The Hartford or its affiliates.

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Gene (00:02):

Hey everybody, this is Gene Marks and welcome to this week’s edition of the Hartford Small Biz Ahead podcast. Thank you so much for joining me. This week I wanna talk about giving away free stuff, freebies, things that don’t cost you that much, but man, do they reply? They put back a big return on investment for your business. Lemme tell you a story, okay? I was going out to dinner with my wife a few weeks ago. We went to this Italian restaurant. It was our first time there actually. Anyway, we had reservations for seven o’clock, and we got to the restaurant at seven o’clock, and you know what? The table wasn’t ready. We waited a few more minutes, and then the maitre d came over and said to us, “Hey, it’s still gonna be another 10, 15 minutes. Why not go and have a seat at the bar?”

Gene (00:43):

We went to the bar getting a little bit annoyed because why else do you make reservations? And at the bar, the bartender was there and so was the owner of the restaurant. We sat at the bar, we started talking and the owner, we said we had reservations, but they were running late. Soon as the owner had heard that, he gave us free wine, both glasses of wine that we had at the bar. He just comped as a, not only as a thank you, but as an apology for being late. I mean, what does that glass of wine cost that owner? Virtually nothing. We all know that. But man, the goodwill that it generated was really appreciated. It was like, “Hey, we messed up. We had a reservation time. We didn’t make the reservation time. Please have a couple glasses of wine on us.”

Gene (01:22):

And it goes a long way. Here’s another story. I go to a Japanese restaurant near where I live. There’s an older man that always greets me there. He’s like the owner of the restaurant. He’s very old. He’s always very, very gracious and always says, thank you a lot. Whenever I go there, if I come in there, he knows I’ve been going there for a long time now. He slips in freebies. He says to me, “Hey, we’re trying out a new appetizer. I just put that in your bag and let me know what you think.” Or, “I gave you an extra roll this time.” Just a thank you for being a good customer. Giving stuff to your existing customers is really, really good business. It always makes me wonder why some of those larger cable companies or cell phone companies out there, they always have reward programs for new customers that sign up for their business.

Gene (02:06):

And I always think to myself, man, I’ve been a customer of yours for like 20 years. I don’t get any rewards or any discounts. Show me some love. That is something we need to be doing more with our existing customers, is showing them a little love. Maybe it’s a gift at Christmas, even a card, but more importantly, it’s just a discount on something, or it’s just something free. It’s a little bit of a gift like, “Hey, you have been ordering with us and our customer of ours for the past five years. We’re gonna give you 10% off your next discount, your next order just as a thank you.” Or we’re gonna give you a little something extra in your next order just as a thank you because people really do appreciate it. It really goes a long way. Now, that’s giving away stuff for free. Here’s another thing I want you to keep in mind. Don’t argue with your customers and your clients when it comes to disputes over products or services that are performed. I give away hours all the time. If a customer is not…

Gene (02:59):

Satisfied with the work that’s being performed, or if we did a project and they’re like, “Hey, that took 20 hours and you said it was only gonna take 15, or that took 20 hours, and I am sure that it could have been done a lot less. I think it was inefficient.” I don’t sit there and I haggle with that customer. I don’t go into who was right or who was wrong. It’s a matter of a few bucks. If it’s a good customer of mine or a good client of mine, they’ve been around for a while, my immediate reaction is to say, “No problem at all. We’re gonna take the time off. You’re not gonna be charged for it.” Why am I gonna go down the road of getting into a fight with a good client? If a client is not happy with the hours that were spent or with the product that they received, there is no way that they should have to pay for that product.

Gene (03:41):

This is all about good customer service. It’s all about thinking about the long term and keeping those customers in the fold for a while. Giving away stuff for free to existing customers is a really, really good business practice. Even when they’re not even asking for it. When they’re not expecting it. It comes as a very pleasant surprise and keeps them around, not arguing with your customers over petty hours or a petty amount of product that is also good business. Yes, of course, if a customer raises a concern about a significant amount of time or a significant product that they bought from you that they don’t want to pay from, okay, maybe that’s something that you’re gonna have to go back and forth on. But really, my advice to you, which is what I’ve always done over the years, is always have a long-term view when it comes to your customers.

Gene (04:28):

If there are small arguments that or disputes or issues that they have, try and look beyond that. Try and give them the benefit of the doubt. Take a step back. Say to yourself, “listen, if I’m going to want to keep this customer for a long time, does it really make a difference if I charge ’em the extra couple of hours?” If they’re not happy with the product or the service or whatever’s delivered, does it really make a difference to me to take it back and give them a new one that they are happy with? Your customers will appreciate that, and they will stay your customers. And if your customer has been coming into your retail shop or your restaurant, or been buying from you for years, and you wanna just show them a little bit of appreciation for goodness sake, do that.

Gene (05:07):

Don’t take your customers for granted. Give them some free stuff. Tell them that this is something that you’re doing. Just an appreciation to them. I mean, the guy at the Italian restaurant, was he some kind of a hero? He just didn’t want a couple of annoyed customers telling their friends and never coming back. I mean again, there’s two glasses of wine probably cost them like a buck in total. The return on investment by keeping us happy was of course, many, many times that. So, listen to me when times are tight, even when they’re not. The fact remains true. People like to get free stuff. They wanna get compensated for their time. The dollars don’t really matter as much as the intention, you know? So it would be great if I got a free month of cable TV service because I’d been a customer of the cable TV company for a number of years. This is the kind of thing that would keep me happy…

Gene (05:56):

And keep me going. Good managers, we’re not cheap skates. We don’t haggle over small dollars. We give stuff away for free. When we know that the gesture will return more in the long run, we’re not shortsighted. Think about that the next time you screw something up. All right. Offer a credit or some cash back, or even a gift certificate. I mean, smart business owners know how showing our existing customers that we really care about them. Doing so generates cash in the long run. Give stuff away for free. Show your customers how much you appreciate them. My name is Gene Marks, and you have been listening to another weekly episode of the Hartford’s Small Biz Ahead podcast. If you need any help or advice or tips in running your business, please visit us or Thanks so much for listening. I’ll be back to you next week with another piece of advice to help you run your business. Take care.

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