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Negotiation 101: EVERYTHING is Negotiable!

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Danielle Hoston: 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:

woman talking to a mechanic

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

MomLogic wants to know! There are many different negotiation techniques. What negotiation tactics work for you??



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12 comments so far | Post a comment now
Trish A. April 6, 2009, 12:21 PM

Excellent tips! Everything is definitely negotiable - this is especially true given the economic climate of today.

Jerwayne Ellis April 6, 2009, 1:08 PM

Great advice. I know with myself a lot of times I have had the attitude of the money saved from negotiating was not worth the time I would spend researching or going to multiple sources. My attitude changed on that when my old car had problems and I ran into some mechanics who definitely were trying to screw me over.

Akemi April 7, 2009, 2:35 AM

Love it D! I agree- everything is negotiable, and if you don’t ask for something, you won’t get it. I’m figuring out what I need to ask for while negotiating my first job post grad school…

Larkspurs April 7, 2009, 2:49 AM

You had me till you mentioned that you saved a labor charge for the changing of an air filter. Anyone can do that, for free themselves. But, you look at details no one has the experience to look for. Most people don’t know what to look for and this article showed a bit of that. Keep it coming!!

Philip Marcus, The Negotiation Pro April 7, 2009, 1:39 PM

Danielle has written a clear and workable set of principles here. One of the hardest to do in practice is remain free of emotions, or at least not let them control you. But how?
One good way is to apply the Zen principle of mindfuless, to take yourself outside the process of negotiating and become as if an outside observer. An outsider is much less likely to becoem emotionally involved.

tanya EVANS April 7, 2009, 8:01 PM

Ok I am back to say I did a good job I didnt take it to the dealer and saved 1,200:)

Selene April 7, 2009, 9:15 PM

Great tips!

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