It seems like all the internet marketers tell business owners they should offer a money-back guarantee, and I’ve seen lots of colleagues offer guarantees on their websites. I’m toying with the idea, but I don’t know how it works. What do you think? —MJ
I think it’s a ridiculous idea, to be frank.
Guarantees are for commoditized products, not professional services. And think about it: how would you offer a guarantee?
First of all, there are theories of law in play.
If someone engages you to perform a service, you are legally entitled to be paid for the expenditure of your time and labor as long as you fulfilled your contractual obligations and regardless of whether the client later decides they want their money back or not.
Second of all, what if you did have a money-back guarantee and a client actually took you up on it.
Would you have enough money set aside to do that? How much money would you have to always keep set aside that you couldn’t spend or use yourself just in case someone asked for their money back? That’s valuable cashflow you’d be depriving yourself and your business of.
Here’s the deal: The folks telling you to offer a money-back guarantee don’t know our business, and it’s certainly not good advice for any professional services firm.
Plus, typically the businesses who deal with “seductive” advertising are those in low-credibility, high volume markets (people like internet marketers). That is NOT you.
Our profession is based on personal relationships.
Being genuine, authentic, principled and ethical is the very best sales tool you have at your disposal.
When your business is based on that platform, you aren’t going to attract people will be prone to thinking of you as a commodity, and you certainly won’t need any tricks or gimmicks to bribe people into working with you.
If an occasion does arise in your business where a client isn’t happy, talk it out and do what you think is fair.
If you’ve really dropped the ball, take responsibility and do everything you can to make that client happy and whole.
That may mean going above and beyond the scope of the work and what you’ve been paid because you want to avoid any harm to your business reputation, warranted or not, fair or not.
If push comes to shove and there is just no pleasing that client — and as long as you aren’t allowing yourself to be held hostage by a bully who is only looking to get a free ride — maybe you do consider giving money back to a client in a worst case scenario.
But do it on a case-by-case basis, not a blanket policy that demeans and devalues you and the work.