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I run a small consulting company, mostly paperwork for immigration, starting a business, and a range of other things.

I quite often get a lot of people stopping by to ask questions, leaving, doing the work themselves, and coming back to ask more questions.

I feel that if they are coming back to ask more questions that should show right there I have the knowledge required to help them.

I do not mind answering some questions or filling out / sending some paper work off for them, if it is the first time they have come in, also have a lot of paying customer that these free loaders take time from.

When they come in a second time I want to find a way to politely tell them that they need to pay me to keep moving forward.

I feel very rude and have problem saying no to people especially when they give me a good sob story.

  • 2
    "Sorry, only the initial consultation is free. You'll need to make an appointment." – Scott Apr 12 '18 at 14:58
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You may feel rude but at the end of the day it's your business. If they come back the second time you should give less information than you provided on their first visit, but tell them you can give them a more thorough explanation if they booked an appointment. Alternatively stop giving away free information. When someone calls/comes to see you with their problem, you can respond with

"That sounds like a very complicated situation. If you would like to book an appointment, we can discuss your current situation, and work out the best thing for you".

This way they know you are invested in their story and want to help, and you have offered your services, and you have not provided them with much information.

Also, giving away free information is one thing, but don't start filling out papers for people. You need to charge, or else you're just a charity.

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First of all, you cannot "be all things to all people." Then determine what "business" you are in and learn what fees to charge. Tell them from the beginning you have a business, you are a professional and you charge fees. Sit down with them and YOU ask questions to determine what their problem is. Then figure out how long it will take to solve their problem and quote them a fee. You can only give up so much "free information" before it bites into your bottom line.

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You can tell them "sorry, I have answered xxx of your questions for free, now I need to make my living".

Some of them will leave, which is probably a good thing, as they are those who would have abused.

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