Do Your Friends And Family Take Advantage Of You?


Do you have friends and family members who expect you to do work for them for free? It seems to be a common occurrence these days. Some members refuse to do work for those close to them, while others offer discounts or items at cost. See what solutions they offer to handle this sticky situation.

Q. CrystalCreek:

I always get lots of requests from my friends and family for leaf cleanups, snow removal, tree work and lots of other various jobs. I am a very giving person and truly feel that my blessings should be shared. However, I also am not a fan of people just expecting me to do stuff for free. Do you run into this? Have you lost friends or had awkward family get-togethers?

This has been happening a lot to me lately. Just the other day I had a friend tell me he needed me to mulch his yard. I told him I would give him an estimate. He laughed and actually said, “You’re kidding, right?” Does he really think I’m giving him 25 yards of mulch for free?

A. jc1:

We don’t work for friends or family. I will help them, meaning they are working as hard or harder than I am. Once you start, it’s expected.

Vecchio Lawn Care:

I give a family and friends discount, which is 10 to 20 percent depending on how much I like them and how much of a pain the job is. Never work for free!


I give 20 percent off. As others have said, once you start it’s expected of you.


The best thing to do is not work for friends or family. Then you don’t run into wanting work done for free. The only family we do work for is my parents, but friends get charged the same as a regular customer.


I’ll mow my dad’s lawn when it needs it. Friends pay full freight or it’s free, depending on the work and type of friend.


I have run into this quite a bit, especially with close family. I have no problem doing work for my parents; they have helped me so I do the same. Even my brother and sister I don’t have a big problem with. It’s usually when I get to aunts and uncles or friends of my parents that it gets challenging. It usually will lead to an argument or something and somehow I am in the wrong.

Pricing wise I have figured it out and I stick to it. Anything we are doing with the friends and family discount we do at cost plus 10 percent. This means overhead, materials, labor, etc. Whatever costs I have associated with the job, they are charged plus an extra 10 percent to put some money in our pockets. So, if we have four hours in labor and materials cost $150, we would charge about $165 in labor plus about $185 for the materials. That job retail we would be $188 in labor and about $215 in materials, so they get about $88 off the retail price. If they don’t like it, they can have someone else do it. It’s also not the first job that gets thrown into the schedule. We do it when we can. Again, if they don’t like it, they can hire another company.


I have learned that family and friends are often the first to call and complain about the little things that other customers would never notice. If it is something small, I will go over on a weekend and help them. I usually just tell them to cover my cost for materials and fuel for equipment. They also know they will be doing more physical labor than me. They are also expected to have a steak on the grill for lunch and cold beers for when we’re done.

Now if it’s something larger where I need to send a crew, such as a large landscape install like a patio/outdoor kitchen, etc., I will give them a deal. Depending on who they are, it may be as little as enough to cover all of my costs, plus a little to make it worth it. They know I’m not willing to lose money on it. They also know that it will be on my schedule. I may have a crew there for a week working, and then work might stop for two months before we’re back again. But this all depends on who they are and how much I like them and want to help them.


I’ve had to stop working for family. The same people who judged me for starting this business then wanted my help. It starts with mowing, and then they want a brick walkway or planting. “Well can’t I just go buy the things and then you come help me, and dinner would be my treat?”

Then they take offense that I cannot take a truck and trailer away for a day to help them renovate their backyard for free.

I haven’t had a problem with friends, but family takes it too far.


To combat this up front, I have shown them “full retail” price before I show them what I am charging them. Makes them feel good. If they don’t like it, I don’t care.


That’s exactly what I do. On large jobs I have encouraged them to take my design to a comparable legit company and have them get a proposal from them. No one has done that, but it makes them feel good that I’m confident that they’re getting a good deal from me, and I get to fill in a few weeks of work for my guys when I have a crew free here and there.


I give discounts, but why should I spread 25 yards of mulch, do a clean up or mow — all things these people can easily do themselves for free?

I only mow one account for free, and even he gives me money from time to time. It’s one of my good friends, and I use his tools (former mechanic so he has everything), and he fixes my truck when I need minor work done that I’m not experienced in. But I don’t expect him to buy the parts for me, and whenever he does a job longer than an hour I help, learn what I can and buy us pizza and beer. We have a symbiotic relationship, so it works out for all. If I need something done, he will drop everything to help me.