Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Why Are You Entitled to a Discount?

Over the last few days I've been asked twice if I could offer a discount on photos. One was an "if I bought a lot..." and the other was a "what if I give you cash in hand...". Over the last few years I've often been asked if I'll do a discount. And the justifications for the request have always been the same as the 2 I've had this week.

I wanted to explain why I don't discount my photos and why I don't like people asking me to. This isn't aimed at anyone specifically so please don't be offended or take it personally...

Everyone likes a good haggle, me included. And the truth is, actually I do discount my photos sometimes.  If you've ordered £259 of photos from a studio shoot, the chances are I'll call it 250 quid. It shows good will on my part and makes your payment a round number (even though you're probably paying by cheque or card). But it's generally a small discount relative to the overall cost. What I don't do is knock 25% of your bill because you asked me to!

I take photos for a living, which means the money I take from you has to first pay for my business costs (consumables, rent, rates, electricity, water, advertising, etc.) What's left over has to pay my bills at home. If there's any left over from that I might go on holiday! I have to make enough money from what I do to cover all of that which is a struggle. Especially when what I sell is essentially a luxury. I have worked hard to set my prices at a level that is fair for me and for my customers. I won't go into my pricing structure in depth, but you can read about why pro photography costs so much in my previous posts.

I understand that £15 for a 7x5" photo might sound expensive when Tesco (et al.) are selling prints for pennies. But my prices are there for all to see. I have a page on my website specifically for portrait prices. I don't hide anything from my customers then slap a huge bill on them once they've fallen in love with the shots! So you really should have an idea of how much you can get for your budget before you come in.

The bulk ordering argument is something I find difficult to counter. Many businesses offer bulk discounts, from wholesalers to 2-for-1 offers. So why don't I? Well it's really down to averages. The bulk of my work is done before you even see your photos regardless of how much you spend, so I need my hourly rate to average out across all the shoots I do in a year. That means that people who spend a lot with me are essentially subsidising the small orders. The difficulty I have is when the lower spenders think theirs is a big order and ask for money off. A £500 order is likely to attract a bit of a saving as a gesture of good will and a thank you for your custom. A £50 order is not...

The cash in hand argument is a lot easier. I pay tax. Simple as that. Everything I take goes through my books and is declared to HMRC. Asking for a discount because you're paying cash has an implicit under-the-table subtext. Sorry to disappoint, but cash, cheque, card or PayPal is all the same to me.

What I dislike the most though is the fact that people only seem to ask for discounts from small, local independent businesses. No-one goes into Sainsbury's and asks the cashier for a free tin of beans because they've bought 6 of them. M&S won't knock a tenner off the price of your new dress just because you've asked them to. So why should you expect a local business to do the same?

Please think before asking for discounts and maybe don't do it. Or at the very least accept our polite "sorry, but no" and don't argue the point. You never know, you just might get a couple of quid knocked off next time!