“Send me the bill.
(If you read my subject line as “My favorite four [LETTER] words,” my apologies. I have plenty of those for sure.
But my favorite four words to hear and to say: Send me the bill.
Why I like saying “send me the bill.”
- It allows me to set a boundary. “Send me the bill. This is a business transaction. You do the work. I pay you for it. I’m delighted at what I’m getting. You’re happy to do it it because you’re getting paid.” This is important when you work with a lot of people you know. Setting the boundary, setting the expectations, makes me more comfortable, and hopefully makes the person on the other end more comfortable. We know exactly what we need to do — the work. We know exactly when our transaction is complete — when the work is done.
- It is a way for me to unambiguously show that I value and respect their time, their work, their knowledge, their experience. “Send me the bill,” means, to me, “I am willing to allocate my precious resources toward this product or service.”
- It’s a way to clearly communicate my intent: I want you do to this for me and I want to pay you for it.
The Main Reason I like saying “Send the Bill”
Because I want my provider to be delighted to spend the time doing the work. I want them to give me 100%. I want them to be so happy doing it. I don’t want there to be any thought, any suspicion, that I’m not getting their best because they aren’t happy with the compensation they’re getting (or not getting).
There’s no such thing as a free lunch. Unless it is freely given.
In my industry – horticulture – it is assumed by many people that all advice is free. It is assumed that if you call one of my colleagues up and ask them what to plant, where, they’ll tell you, for free. It is assumed that if you tag them on facebook and ask for them to identify a plant, they’ll do it, for free. It’s assumed that if you have an insect eating your plant that if you ask one of them to identify it, they’ll do it, for free.
Here’s what has happened, especially as more people have started gardening, and I’ve seen it everywhere: this mentality of “free advice, always”has made people resentful. It has made them less excited about their jobs. It has burned them out, made them tired. Because gardening is their job and nobody is asking them to send a bill for that advice.
Is it freely given?
I don’t have to charge for everything. That’s my decision. In fact, I don’t let people pay for certain things. I don’t sell my art. That’s because I don’t want it to turn into a job. When I occasionally offer some art in exchange for donations to charity there are always people who want to commission, which is flattering. There are people who want to make donations for IOUs, which is flattering. But I don’t do that.
I give away my art, and it is freely given by the boundaries I have set. Because if it isn’t freely given, then I can come to resent the giving. And even worse if it isn’t freely given, I can come to resent the creating.
My newsletter is freely given. One 15 minute discovery call per new client. is freely given. I spend time thinking about these questions and writing them out. I spend time searching for and collecting useful links. But it is freely given because I have chosen this way to freely share my learning via the school of hard knocks, my experience. If you can grab a nugget from it, I’m so very happy. I hope it makes your business better.
If you want personalized advice, I’ll send a bill.
Finding the customers willing to say “Send the Bill”
I think one reason why the “free advice” mentality persists so much is that a lot of people assume that nobody wants to pay.
But maybe, that assumption is so strong because very few people giving free advice actually offer a way for customers to pay. Maybe the customers don’t know they can and should pay.
Here’s what that looks like in a variety of ways from a variety of people:
- Need help? Choose a plan that works for you.
- Work with me.
- Hire me.
- Let me plant your containers.
- Let me coach you toward growing a garden you love.
TL:DR Action Item
How can you allow your clients to skip saying “send the bill” and start just sending you money? How can you make it easy for them to pay you?
Because once you set the boundary that says “This is a paid service,” and offer them a way to pay, well that is when you’re really free.
Fun & Useful Links
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Last time I said I hoped you took a day off. Did you? What did you do?
And, what are your ideas for offering more paid services? Do you have any questions about it? Grab 15 minutes to ask free here.