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  • Writer's pictureK. Wilks

Celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas with 12 things you can negotiate to save time and money.

I often start my negotiation training courses talking about salaries. Awkward right? Not so much. The once taboo topic is now something people want to talk about mainly because the past couple of years have caused most to look critically at how to expand what’s in their pay check. So let’s jump in!

1. Your salary:

Many people find it daunting to counter a job offer; indeed only an average of 40% of you will attempt it, despite the fact that a whopping 70% of hiring managers are prepared to pay more. It goes without saying that your salary is the anchor from which all other fruits of your labour are gained: your pension, your bonus, and your next raise are all linked to your base salary. The same holds true of annual performance reviews. If you know you’re worth more, then be worth more and go for it!

2. Home purchases:

Even in a sellers’ market, you have leverage simply by being in the game. Speak with your realtor early, get the details on numbers of buyers interested, and the seller’s motivation (do they need to get out quickly or can they take their time, have their kids grown up there?). Speed, the right number, and cash will always appeal, but so does telling the realtor how much you love the house and you know your family will be happy there – studies show that relevant and authentic emotions will help a seller part with their item faster if they like the person buying. Don’t be afraid to gush!

3. Home rentals:

Few seem to know that you can haggle over the rate of a rental. Nothing is off limits if the landlord wants a tenant – a bird in the hand as they say! Consider what’s important to you (your Core Requirement) and put together a mental list of tradeables as you’re doing the first home visit. If the rent seems high for the quality of the property, start lower citing what competing units rent for and offer to move in sooner, stay longer, or forego the much needed paint job (or offer to do it yourself if they provide the materials) in exchange for a better rate. If they won’t budge on the rate, make sure you produce a “fix list” of all the things that need to be replaced/updated (appliances, painting, carpeting, landscaping) and start there before you sign any lease.

4. Mortgage rates (and credit rates generally):

Most lenders have discretion to adjust published rates within a range. If you don’t get the rate you’ve applied for, look for attractive options to present (comparable rates from other banks, length of time with that institution, ability to move savings) improve the offer. If your credit profile is the issue, politely challenge that with updates (i.e new job, raise coming, 2nd income around the corner) – persistence usually pays off.

5. Car purchases:

This is another area you should always barter for optimal outcomes. BUT, do your homework, know the market, know the vehicle and be prepared to shop elsewhere. If you become attached to the car before you start negotiating, you’ve lost before you signed the purchase agreement. Stay neutral, counter with cash (if feasible), speed, tradeables (offer to buy the added warranty in exchange for a better price, etc) if they won’t budge see what they can throw in the deal to sweeten it for you (new tyres, footwell carpets, mud flaps, side runners, pet cage separator).

6. Furniture purchases:

Yep, you can haggle for a sofa. Again, do your homework, observe the number of customers spending money in the shop, and go later in the day and later in the month when sales folks are more motivated to close a deal. Consider different colours, longer order dates, matching sets, demo sets.

7. Consumer goods:

Think appliances, jewellery, cell phones. Same rule as item 6 above - do your research, know the value of the item as well as the shop selling it. Is it a tiny shop with limited inventory and margin, or is it a bigger shop with a lot of stock? All factors yield different conversations. Be polite and curious, stay flexible, and you’ll be surprised what they’ll come up with as “their best offer”.

8. Home services: cleaning services, dog walking, window washing.

Top tip here: if it’s a service you want with a provider you like, keep it simple – offer to pre-pay on a set monthly/quarterly basis in exchange for a discount. And word of mouth is powerful, so agree an “introduction” discount for connecting them with your friends and neighbours – and it saves them $$ in advertising. A win for both parties.

9. Home renovations:

Research is your friend here. Alongside at least two realistic quotes. Never proceed on a single quote – your house is too important. Even if you love the contractor – you will always learn something from the next quote – whether it’s the completion milestones, the payment spread, or materials costs. Once you’ve decided on the best contractor for the job, negotiate the net package by offering a higher % upfront, flexing milestone payments, and alternative to the proposed materials. It can be stressful, any renovation is, but the late nights educating yourself on materials costs, etc will pay you back.

10. Travel upgrades: airline, hotel, car and travel packages.

Most people book their own travel these days. But if you’re doing an extended trip or a more complex set of connections it’s wise to consider a travel company, and often they have a lot of wiggle room to adjust prices based on outbound travel, less-expensive hub cities, and access to new hotels (hungry to get travellers in)! If you're booking travel DIY, upgrades are almost always released for purchase immediately before, or the day of, travel. Stop by the customer service counter at the airlines to see if they have any upgrade specials or – if you have time – options to take a free upgrade in exchange for relinquishing your seat on a crowded flight. The same goes for car rentals – all you have to do is ask. On a recent trip, I asked if they had any nicer SUVs available since I was chauffeuring my elderly mother around all week, and I ended up with a fully-loaded, brand new BMW X5 for the same price. My mom was chuffed!

In terms of hotels, you have the right to change rooms at any time. So if you’ve booked into a room that doesn’t meet expectation as advertised, simply visit the front desk and tell them. If the same room range is unavailable see if they’ll upgrade you for free – failing that you might agree to pay the difference but ask that the parking fees are waived. Lots to work with here – you just need to be polite, sincere and ask the question.

11. Where to sit in a restaurant (especially an expensive restaurant):

My family routinely makes fun of me for this, but I stand by my standards, especially if it’s a more expensive restaurant or it’s a special occasion. Dining out in a restaurant can sometimes last 1-2 hours, or more, depending on the occasion so you want the experience to be a comfortable and enjoyable one. So if you’re hosting the gathering, and the table is in line of the busing station, is chilly next to the door, or it’s wedged in where guests can’t get in and out easily simply ask to be moved to another table. Great servers will usually ask you when you’re first seated, but don’t be shy in pointing out a better option if one exists.

12. Taxes:

I’ve saved the least favourite topic to last, but it's also one often overlooked as many don’t know that the IRS and HMRC may be amenable to how much you can afford to pay and by when; something is better than zero so reach out to them and try to agree an affordable payment plan if the sticker price is higher than expected or too much/too soon. Don’t assume they won’t work with you, and be polite – it goes a long way.

Are you a female in the workforce, a new leader or aspiring female entrepreneur? We want to hear from you! Join the mail list for our January Negotiation BOOTCAMP!

Kelli Wilks helps individuals and businesses turn their views of negotiation into valuable opportunities to benefit their pocketbook, mental health, and relationships.


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