Finally. My car nightmare is over. Well, mostly anyway. I’ve spent the last week or so learning everything I never really wanted to know about all that is wrong with my freshly paid-off car. Fortunately, by the time it was all over. I was able to save about 40% off my original estimate! I decided to utilize this experience to outline the art of negotiation. Here are my tips to help save you money when negotiating anything:
1. Talk to the decision-maker. You can lay out the best negotiation in the world but if you are not talking to the person in a position to make a decision, you are wasting their time and yours.
2. Get it in writing. All estimates, proposals, etc. should clearly outline the work/services to be performed and have some sort of guarantee. Understanding the items listed is key to making your negotiation as effective as possible. Always document who you are talking to, when, and the important details of the conversation.
3. Get a second opinion and do your research. The only bad question is the one that is NOT asked. I noticed a difference in the number of hours to complete the work on my estimates and the asked why there was a discrepancy. I found out that estimates are generated from labor guides and we were able to agree upon a labor guide that was more customer-friendly.
4. Isolate deal points and prioritize the largest items. The largest difference in the estimates I received was the hourly labor charge. My first priority was getting the hourly charge reduced. Once that was completed I worked on getting the number of hours to complete the work reduced.
5. Control your emotions. I’ve always subscribed to the old adage, “You get more bees with honey than vinegar.” It’s easy to get frustrated during a negotiation, especially when the stakes are high. Emphasize fairness and be honest. You may be surprised at the honesty and fairness you receive in return. My mechanic politely informed me that some estimated work didn’t need to be completed right away and was able to eliminate those items from my bill.
6. Don’t over-negotiate. Keep in mind that you could burn a bridge that may be valuable if future problems develop. In my case, an additional problem was uncovered when the work began on my vehicle (big surprise) and the “friendly pricing” was automatically given. In addition, my air filter was installed without a labor charge.
7. Everything is negotiable. EVERYTHING. Be as flexible as possible in what you are willing to concede and receive. Think outside of the box and come up with creative resolutions if the negotiations seem to have stale-mated. The last thing I asked for was for the sales tax to be absorbed by the mechanic. Guess what? He did!
In business, you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate. - Chester L. Karrass
There are many different negotiation techniques. What negotiation tactics work for you??