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11 Questions to Ask Yourself When Asked to Discount

It’s a common question I see floated around; something to the effect of “A client asked for a discount, what do I do?”
This could be in reference to a client who is wanting to come very regularly, someone who wants a family discount since several people in their family will be coming regularly, or just because they’re looking for a deal. A lot of different scenarios can lead to this, and there’s just as many answers you’ll see in response. So instead of giving a blanket answer here, I’m going to give you several questions to ask yourself to help you work out what’s best for your particular scenario if a client ever asks you for a discount.

I know a lot of us, including myself, are tempted to immediately say absolutely not in response to being outright asked for a discount, and others really struggle with boundaries and would bow to whatever request a client makes.
So instead of blanket answers, let’s look at this request objectively and ask ourselves a few questions so that we can come to a firm conclusion.

Because here’s the thing; there’s a human factor. There’s a gazillion and one minute pieces to a situation that could affect how you approach this and your response. I mean, I gave free monthly massages to a client for, I believe it was a year. People might freak out at that. But she had been a long-time loyal client, her house burned down completely, and then found out in the midst of that that her husband had not been paying their insurance and instead was spending it on his mistress. So she and her children were effectively homeless and abandoned. So yeah….again…human factor here. You can’t be charitable to the point of killing your business, but you can also be understanding of specific situations and nuance. So with all that said…

#1 What is the purpose of the discount? In other words, why do they think they should get it? Are they the boundary pusher type or are they justifying it with coming more often than they would otherwise, or like how did they phrase it? That’s important to show you their intent. If this is just a boundary pusher type person, then my immediate answer would be no and you don’t even need to really go any further with these questions. But if it’s got you thinking like maybe I could give a discount to people to get them to come more often – I mean, that’s how membership programs and such work – then ok, let’s look at some more questions.

#2 Best you can tell, is this person on a strict budget and couldn’t come otherwise OR could they pay full price and are just looking for a deal? Some people like to haggle, it’s just who they are and what they do, and they honestly don’t mean any offense by it. Some people can’t afford what you offer. And that brings me to question…

#3 Does this person fit your ideal client profile, and does discounting fit your brand at all? Not being able to pay your full price is a pretty good indication they don’t fit that ideal client profile. That’s not a bad thing, it just means they’re not for your business and you can refer them elsewhere. And if you don’t discount at all because it doesn’t suit your brand, then that gives you your answer as well. Again, the human element here and nuance to the situation. But if otherwise this person and a discount at all fits, then let’s keep going…

#4 Is this an existing and loyal client? If so, how long have they been coming, and how often do they come? This is a big factor because a new client just asking is very different from someone who has spent a lot of money with you and who you’ve come to know pretty well, right? How much money have they spent already, would they really cut down on coming or stop coming altogether if you don’t give them the discount, and how does all that effect your numbers?

#5 If this is about coming more often, what does that look like? How do you guarantee it, like paying upfront like a membership type thing? Run the numbers and determine if this is a good return on the investment of that discount.

#6 When is the last time you raised your rates?
#7 Do you plan on raising your rates anytime soon?
You definitely don’t want to lock someone in at an even lower price when you’re already due for a rate increase.

#8 How desperate are you for clients and money coming in to pay the bills? I understand desperation, but unless you’re in seriously dire straits, don’t discount just out of desperation. It’s bad for your business long-term.

#9 How are other forms of marketing working for you right now? Discounts are an investment and you have to be sure they’ll pay off with a good positive ROI like any other investment. So would that be better spent in another form of marketing that would pay off even better than granting this discount request?

And lastly, based on all this….
#10 What would be your justification for doing this sort of discount for them?
#11 What would be your justification for NOT doing this discount for them?
This is like a pros and cons list here. Consider this objectively and determine which justification makes more sense for you and your business.

Making a rash decision of yes or no isn’t usually advisable in most situations, and this one isn’t all that different. Again, there’s clear cut reasonings to jump to a no here, but an objective decision is best, so consider asking yourself these 11 questions if you’re posed with the question “can I get a discount?”.


Hey there! I'm a massage therapist, educator, writer, and business pro helping massage therapists around the world build successful businesses. My goal is to give you everything you need to start, run, and grow a profitable massage practice that supports a life you love, all without the headaches I went through learning how to do it myself.

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