Professional Courtesies and Discounting

Question #2 from one of our Subscribers:
  • How do other owners handle the issue of professional or neighboring business discounts? I’ve been told that I am too generous with my discounts to neighboring stores by my family and friends and then when i purchase something from their stores I am charged regular price !!! What is the proper “business etiquette” does anyone have any suggestions?

I have to agree with you this is a challenging question- so many times I have ‘traded’ goods for services and I have always felt I got the wrong end of the deal!
Plus, you have different type of professional courtesies- family, vendors, professional,  businesses- sometimes it gets very confusing.
I don’t have all the answers-but here are some guidelines:
  • First- in order to make it easier for you- you could print up a bunch of $5.00 coupons and just give them out to family and colleagues. It’s easy, it takes away from the money issue and keeps things ‘fair and even.’ Also you don’t have to worry about retail to retail costs.
Local Business-Giving a professional courtesy discount to potential customers/patients in your office building, strip center is a very good idea. You can keep it small such as $10 or 10% off, hopefully to encourage your closest potential customers to shop with you!
Family- After years of giving away services to my family- I now only ‘give away’ for free to my mother. Everybody else has to pay my cost plus shipping and taxes. This is for immediate family members only. In truth, I have tried to get away from getting optical supplies for my family. If they want frames and lens- and I get ‘pushed into it’- it’s usually closeouts. Makes it easy- I make sure that the product is non-returnable- then I don’t have to deal with Buyer’s Remorse.
Friends- In your case I would charge full price. If they are close give them throw in a free A/R or a small discount.
Business Associations– If you are shopping in local neighborhood store- you might consider speaking with the owner and setting up a mutually beneficial discount program with them. Be clear on discount off of retail pricing.
Professional-Courtesy there seems to be an unwritten law about professional courtesy among physicians to provide free or discounted services to fellow professionals and their employees. You have to be careful that you don’t violate anti-kick back laws!
Trades and Swaps and Barters– (see article) First bartering does not pay the bills, but it can help you with cash flow. Trading for  , rent, clothing, office supplies, and food can really help you in a budgetary crunch- especially when you have paid for product sitting on your boards and no money! The key is setting the standard up front- Trade retail for retail and make that very clear.
VendorsYou will have all sort of various vendors come in and want to purchase from you. Honestly, as a vendor I would expect some sort of professional discount if I know the account well, have sent business to them, or invested a lot of time and energy into the office. Giving a discount on a eyeglass holder, cleaning cloth will go a long way to garner better vendor relationships and vendor referrals.
Anyone else has any suggestions- please let us know.
Kala Mid Page


  1. agree with most points in the article.
    but charging friends a full price ????? a very close friend -cost plus shipping, not a close friend a sugnifficant discount.

  2. We opened a new office and practice last October. In January we sent a letter to 30 small businesses that are our immediate neighbors. (We did not include chain stores like CVS.) In the letter we described our services and offered their employees and their families significant discounts for exams and glasses if they did not have insurance coverage. The offer expired on May 30.

    We had eight new patients as a result of the letter, but half had insurance through their spouses. Only four really needed a discount.

    I feel that whenever you have a special offer or sale you always put a closing date. Otherwise it will come back to haunt you in future years.

    It always pays to be a good neighbor. No one has offered us a reciprical discount, but the nearby flower shop kindly sent us a flower arrangement as a welcoming gift.

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