Pay what you want – what the h*ll is that?

“The customer chooses the price of our furniture?? You’ve got to be kidding me.”  Those were my exact words when some clever marketing interns made the suggestion. Not only did this sound like a bad idea I had no clue what it really meant.

It is unusual for the price of a product to be placed in the consumers hands. And let’s be honest, I was worried people would suggest £1 for an item we would normally charge £150. But, apparently I have become cynical in my old age. While that may be true, the more I listened to the rationale the more I understood. Placing the control in the customers hands meant that they could become benefactors (talk about good karma). And, given the chance, people will pay a fair price for goods and services they think have value, particularly if there is a social outcome.

You may not know that our furniture is used as an engagement tool to teach restoration skills to long-term unemployed people or people who have experienced homelessness.  You may only know that we produce high quality, upcycled furniture.  And that’s ok, in fact, we like being known for producing a quality product.  But there is considerable value in our hand-restored furniture which goes far beyond the value of, say, the amount of storage a chest of drawers offers, or, the quality of dove tail joints on a drawer.  In fact, the value often goes unseen. The real value of our work is the people behind the product, the people who’ve been marginalised by society and want to improve their life chances.

The people of Petit….

I want to introduce you to Junior, a long-term volunteer at Petit Miracles. When Junior came for work experience he was rather unmotivated, but dearly wanted gainful employment. Since his time with us, he has grown his confidence, employability skills and restoration skills. You can read more about Junior here: https://www.petitmiracles.org.uk/humans-petit-junior/

So, how does one place a monetary value on confidence and employability?  Well, that will be relative to each person, but, to help you out, we have given you some suggestions for what your money can do at Petit;

We will utilise a base cost price which will just cover the cost of the materials + the time of the renovation.  And then leave it up to you to decide what in addition, you would like to pay.  Here are is some guidance:

  • An additional £500 will provide industry training: helping our volunteers become more employable
  • An additional £250 will provide workshop materials for one month: freeing money to spend on direct volunteer benefit
  • An additional £100 will upgrade our workshop tools: continuing to produce quality finishes on the furniture
  • An additional £30 will provide volunteers with PPE equipment: helping to keep volunteers safe
  • An additional £20 will provide basic materials such as sand paper and brush cleaner: freeing money to spend on direct volunteer benefit
  • An additional £10 will help the charity provide travel and lunch expenses for those volunteers who do not have the money to travel to the workshop

Pay What You Want Mission Statement ……

You may be thinking the people at Petit Miracles are quite clever for thinking of such an innovative and clever pricing strategy.  But, you must know there is nothing new under the sun. This kind of pricing is centuries old.  I want to share something I found on-line when researching pay what you want pricing – David Charles, pay what you want mission statement:

Once upon a time, far back in the mists of time – and, more literally, in the hill mists of Guilin – I heard a travellers’ tale about a wise old Chinese doctor. This antiquated physician, they said, would sit cross-legged at the entrance to his modest wooden hut, high up in the mountains, chewing on the end of a long pipe, twisting his long moustaches and waiting for the sick and the dying and the pilgrim seekers to make the rugged ascent to his clinic.

He’d listen to their ailments, lay his hands on their brow, pick rare Chinese herbs from dusty bottles on the shelves and brew some concoction on a small brazier above an open fire. At the end of the consultation, this wise old doctor would hand the patient a glass vial containing some esoteric unction or tincture that would cure their ills.

The grateful recipient would look up expectantly: “How much do I owe you?” The doctor, returning to his pipe and moustaches, would simply smile a crooked smile and raise his palms to the heavens: “Pay whatever the cure is worth.”

So, pay what you think is the value of our work. It’s in your hands.