Negotiating is not something I have ever been good at.
Throughout life I find myself asking what the prices are and then either paying it or not. There was never any thought of haggling. It felt strange. Petty. If I liked the thing or service, I paid for it. I felt fortunate to have a nice income and help support someone else's life.
Still, I wonder what I have been missing by not negotiating. Should I be negotiating more?
Will the quality of the work decrease or leave people with resentment? I don’t think it will cause either of these. It is fine to ask, and you can expect the answer to be no. If it is, then you can either buy the item or walk away.
So let’s discuss the 2 times I have negotiated.
One is when I am in another country where negotiating is the norm. For instance, in Turkey, at the bazaar, I negotiated down the price of this beautiful backgammon board.
It was a game of cat and mouse. He gave me a price. I said it was too high. He came back lower. I gave him another price. He said it was too low. So I walked out. Then he hollered for me to come back and bam! We had a deal.
It was fun and I wondered why I did not do it more. Still, when I returned to the US, those skills I had used for the last 10 days faded away.
Business like negotiation
The other time is when I already have a price. Often I will ask for multiple quotes (say for work on my recently leaking roof). Then I will go with the cheapest. Last week though, I had the opportunity to negotiate.
When we had moved into our home, the roof inspector noted that our solar panels were not installed correctly. He estimated it would cost $2550 for a complete repair and gutter clean. I asked for some cash from the seller and also for some cash from the solar company. I was given both but never made a move to actually fix the issue.
As you may have heard, it has been a rainy season in California (the drought is officially over). My roof was fine. No leaks. Plus to get someone out during all the rain seemed difficult. Everyone gave an extended time frame for completion. Then the last week of the rainy season we get a leak. Right over my son’s bed. It was not a bad leak, but still a leak. So now it was time to fix it.
I obtained an emergency repair and the company came back with a quote of $2750 to fix everything plus a $325 credit from the emergency repair (that put me back $650!). So I thanked them for the quote and sent them my first estimate of $2550 (from the home inspection).
I kindly asked if they could beat it. He got back to me and the new quote was $2450 plus the $325 credit. Boom, negotiating tactics done. Granted the roof still cost me $2775 to fix (emergency repair and total repair), but at least I got the price down some!
So What Is the Point of All of This?
It never hurts to ask. So always ask.
Here is a great post by The White Coat Investor on his experience buying a car. He did not negotiate directly as I did in Turkey, but he went in with knowledge and found the best deal.
Or you can do it like Sam at Financial Samurai did here. He got some quotes for a recent landscape gig and then went straight to the employee (not employer) to get a great deal. He also negotiated the price down! Much more like my negotiating at the bazaar in Turkey.
So What Now for Me?
I will start asking for deals. Particularly at local stores if I am buying multiple things. I will not ask for a deal when I am buying one item. If, however, I am buying multiple items, then it is time to ask for a discount. It is surprising how often people are happy about your business and gives you a discount.
I also am going to start negotiating contract work, much like Sam. Right now my biggest annoying expense is our gardener. We are paying way too much and in fact, I enjoy mowing the lawn. So sometime in the next few months, he is either going to be let go completely or at least we are going to discuss a reduced price.
What about you guys? What do you negotiate? Does it feel weird to ask for discounts?
I am Eiman Jahangir and I am a dad, husband, and cardiologist. I grew up in the South, trained in the Northeast, moved out West, and now am happily back home in the South. My wife and I have seen our fair share of ups and downs, from the pain of dealing with infertility and losing everything in a matter of hours in the Tubb’s Wildfire, to the joys of having our son and finally finding a medical practice that is right for me. It hasn’t always been easy, but I am grateful and continue to move forward in positive steps.
I write to help people looking to improve their lives. I have written my thoughts and experiences on a wide arrange of topics from parenting to finances to mindfulness. While some of my posts are more useful for doctors and other high earners, most are for everyone.