My first boss, Chuck, taught me many things about working in the professional world; for which I will always be indebted. One of the best things I learned from him was “Why not ask?” Chuck was a master of this simple, yet effective technique; and he applied it everywhere. He wouldn’t hesitate to ask for a discount for an item or service. Likewise, his simple and direct approach often led to others agreeing to go “an extra step” with just a simple request. And although my first job had nothing to do with negotiations, my next job did. And I know that his simple technique gave me a good foundation for that role. Learning to ask for a lower price or rate on just about everything from household purchases and groceries, to credit cards, mortgages, and insurance can save you serious cash. To begin doing this…here are a few Steps for Today.
Negotiation is a skill anyone can learn. Here are the basic principles:
- Be respectful. Businesses are there to fill a need or provide a solution. Their employees are trying their best to meet their company’s policies and keep their customers (and bosses) happy. A simple “Can you help me please?” will go a long way.
- Have a clear request. It helps if you have an advertisement for a lower cost from another company.
- Having an explanation for your request will help, but it’s not always necessary. Sometimes just saying ‘it never hurts to ask’ is reason enough.
- If you can’t negotiate a lower rate for an item, ask if there is a less expensive item that will meet your needs.
- Always be thankful for the service. Treat people like you’d like to be treated.
These steps can be applied just about anywhere; even discount stores. I remember the first time I asked for a discount was at Builder’s Square. They had a sale on a certain reciprocating saw. When I saw they were out of stock, I asked the associate if I could get a discount on another model. With a little wait, I received a pretty good discount on a better model saw. And everyone seemed happy to do so.
Using this for everyday shopping is great. But the real savings occur when it’s used on your monthly bills. Here are some Steps for doing just that.
- Get your list of your monthly expenses (If you don’t have one, create one).
- Work with your highest expenses first.
- Call the customer service number on your bill and ask to speak with someone about reducing the rate or amount.
- Many companies have special programs for reductions, but leave it up to the customer to ask. So begin by politely asking if there are ways to reduce your bill. Most customer service professionals I know really do love to help other people, and are happy to have a thankful customer.
- Ask your credit card company what you may do to receive a lower interest rate.
- Likewise, ask your mortgage company if they can reduce the rate, or if a refinance could save you money.
- And ask your insurance company if there are programs which will reduce your rates.
- Even ask your electric company on ways to save on your charges. They may be able to tell you, for example, that rates are lower at night. Therefore using dishwashers, clothes dryers, car charges and other high energy demand devices at off-peak times will save you money.
So why not call and ask. It takes time, but could certainly save some money.
I’d love to hear your stories about asking for discounts or ways to save money.
As always, thanks for reading.
And remember to take the next step…