DEAR PRESTON: I PAY COMMISSIONS AND MY CLIENT IS FURIOUS
May 17, 2011
I have always felt that there is nothing wrong with paying commissions, and this practice has never caused me any problems. However, a new client just found out that I do this, and now she wants to fire me. How do I save my job?
Dear Very Worried,
Let me first thank you for having the courage to address a very sensitive topic. However, paying commission should NEVER be an acceptable way of doing business. OK, folks, maybe I live in a bubble, but I just don’t think it’s cool to pay or receive commissions without your client’s knowledge.
The only way you *might* be able to save your job is to come completely clean with your client. Explain that you and your vendors have an agreement of giving each other a cash “finder’s fee” and that this fee in no way impacts your client’s final cost. (Talk about stretching the truth…) Therefore, you didn’t think it was necessary to inform your client of this arrangement. BUT, you also MUST make sure that your vendor is not shortchanging your client in order to pay you a commission and still make profit.
My humble advice to you is to learn from this very valuable lesson. Please join the many folks in the wedding and event planning industry who refuse to pay or receive commissions. You never want to cheat your clients. That’s just bad business. Period.
Now a question for all of you: Is it more acceptable to pay a commission if you provide a service such as wedding planning or designing than if you provide a product such as a flowers or invitations? How would you have answered Very Worried’s question?
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