Don’t Pay Full Price! Rebel by Negotiating. (Article)
In today’s economy, understanding and implementing creative ways to stretch your dollar is almost a necessity. I’ve never shied away from asking for a better deal than what’s offered to me, but I realize not everyone suffers from my own brand of inflated self-confidence. My interest in writing about this topic sprung from a desire to encourage others, women especially, to mine for the unexpected opportunities in everyday life to save money. [Warning: this advice may trigger addictive behavior. Once you save money the first time, you’ll want to do it again and again and again!]
By Heidi Lading
|Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net|
There are certain bragging rights we women earn and take pride in when we snag an item at an unbelievable sale price. But the pleasure of creating your own sale price on the spot is even more euphoric. Like a sudden drop on a roller coaster, it takes your breath away. And the best part is, anyone can experience it. All you need is a little rebel negotiating.
I recently spoke with author Jessica Miller about negotiation strategies because I knew she’d give some great advice. Miller, a commercial real estate agent for Cushman & Wakefield, is also co-author of the book “A Woman’s Guide to Successful Negotiating: How to Convince, Collaborate, and Create Your Way to Agreement.”
You Don’t Get What You Don’t Ask For
The three keys to success in Miller’s book: be confident, be prepared, and be willing to walk away, are critical in negotiations. But step one is gathering the courage to ask.
“Practice is really the best advice I can give,” said Miller. “The more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll be and the more confidence you’ll have.”
Oak Park resident Kelly Rogala cut a deal on a $130 pair of jeans at a jeans party thrown by the owner of a Roscoe Village shop.
“I told him I’d give him a hundred bucks cash and he was like ‘okay’, ” said Rogala. One of her friends paid full price, 23 percent more than Rogala, for the same pair of jeans that night.
Rogala hit on two important strategies, according to Miller. First, she paid with cash and helped the store avoid credit card fees.
“If it’s a small business it makes a huge difference,” said Miller.
Rogala also spoke with someone authorized to negotiate. In this case it was the store owner, but managers or even sales associates often have the authority to grant discounts.
When I lived on the West Coast and started laser tattoo removal treatments, I negotiated multiple discounts with the dermatologist’s office manager. I paid for a package deal upfront in cash and agreed to write a testimonial of my experience and allow them to take pictures of my progress for marketing purposes. I saved 28 percent more than if I paid for each treatment separately.
There’s Strength In Numbers
Miller often negotiates “for sport” and was once in a department store with three boxes of expensive shoes in her hands. After spending a good amount of time with the salesclerk, she established a rapport with him and requested a discount for buying the three pairs. His first response: “No.” Then he tried to get her to open a credit card. She declined. When she told him she might only buy one pair that day and go home and think about the others, or buy them online—it was clear, she meant it.
Ultimately, Miller left the store with three discounted pairs of shoes. One of those boxes bore the name Christian Louboutin. She credits both the willingness to walk away and the relationship with the clerk for her success, “he had the authority to [give me a discount] and the desire to do it because he liked me.”
Adding on a service is another great way to stretch your dollar. A friend of Roscoe Village resident Kathleen Katz wanted to pay a new babysitter between $10 and $14 per hour. The babysitter wanted $15. Katz advised her friend to offer $12 and ask the sitter to do the laundry. The sitter agreed to do the laundry, clean up and watch the kids for $14.
Timing Is Everything
On a recent trip to the Southeast, Jennifer McFee of Lakeview checked into a hotel after 9 p.m. The front desk attendant stated the nightly rate and McFee offered 10 percent less. The clerk obliged. A discounted room puts more money in the till than an empty room.
Miller also advises negotiators to consider the time of year. Managers who are judged on sales and are nearing the end of a quarter might be willing to come down in price.
Use The Competition To Your Advantage
Today’s smartphones and apps allow for instant price checking. Miller encourages buyers to “use that as a legitimate argument for why you think something should be priced different.”
She warns sometimes the manager may suggest you go buy the product elsewhere, but many stores today have a price-match policy. All you have to do is ask.
Mentioning the competition worked for me when I moved back to Chicago and needed a dermatologist to finish removing my tattoo. My Chicago doctor charged more than I was used to paying. When I told him my previous treatment rate he immediately cut his fee by $50 each appointment.
Be Rebellious But With A Smile
So now you know many of the secrets to rebel negotiating. One final piece of advice: when you ask for a lower price, do it with a smile. See how much further that gets you.
For more of Jessica Miller’s tips on negotiating, check out her soon-to-launch website. www.stopcompromising.com
Heidi Lading is a freelance writer in Chicago. She loves negotiating the best deal possible and encouraging her friends to do the same. Follow her at www.heidilading.com or on Twitter @iamheidi.
Tell me. What’s your biggest victory when it comes to everyday rebel negotiating?