We all know people we’d call ‘born negotiators’. The ones who seem to be able to wheel and deal their way through life. However, as David Koch points out in this week’s show, most of us aren’t like that at all. Instead, we’re intimidated by the mere thought of approaching our boss or a store or a company to ask for a better deal.
There are plenty of techniques we can learn that will help us ask for a pay rise, get a better deal on a car or home loan or save us money on our utilities and other services. Watch the segment on the show and read on for more details:
As the saying goes, in business and in life, you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you can negotiate. Here are 5 tips for getting a better deal on utilities and services.
1. Know your options
Make a list of all of the utilities and services you use and what you’re currently paying. Then note down exactly what you are getting for your money so it’s easy to compare like with like when you research what else is out there.
It’s definitely worth comparing the market. Companies often offer their best deals to new customers, leaving their long-time customers paying what’s known as a ‘loyalty tax’. If you’ve been with your current suppliers for a long time, chances are you’re going to save money by switching. If you’re keen to stay with your current supplier, knowing what’s being offered elsewhere can improve your ability to negotiate a better deal.
Savings can generally be made in these areas, but have a think about other services you use, too:
- Mobile phone plan
- Internet supplier
- Other loans
- Credit cards
- Home help like cleaners, gardeners, pool care
Top tip: When it comes to home help, ask around your neighbourhood to see who also uses the same services. You might be able to all use the same suppliers and negotiate a ‘bulk deal’. Home care suppliers save time and money when they don’t have to travel far between clients.
2. Use a comparison website
Comparison websites make shopping around for better deals super easy. You can compare offers on things like insurance, credit cards, home loans, car loans, utilities and more. Knowing exactly what’s out there will give you more confidence to negotiate a better deal with your current supplier. A few comparison sites to try are:
Top tip: If you decide to simply jump ship to one of the deals you find, don’t just sign up online. You should be able to further negotiate on the new deal. So, work those negotiation skills and phone to speak to a customer rep. See below for more on this.
3. Make the call
You can’t negotiate with a website, so be ready to phone up your supplier to talk about the information you’ve gathered. You’ve done your homework and know what’s out there (see above), so take a calm and friendly approach. Then stand firm when you’re asking for a better deal. Some tips for negotiating over the phone:
- Speak to the right person – the customer service representative who answers your call may not be the right person to offer you a better deal. Check in to make sure.
- Listen attentively – we can get so caught up in what we want to ask it can be easy to forget to listen to what the other party has to say.
- Repeat back – to ensure you’re hearing the other party correctly, repeat back what they are saying from time to time. This will ensure you are both on the same page.
- Be specific – once you’ve agreed a new deal, ask the company to outline exactly what it is you will be receiving and when the new arrangement will start (hopefully immediately).
- Follow up – ask for a follow up email from the company outlining what they’ve agreed to offer you. That way you have it in writing and there’s no ambiguity.
Top tip: Money expert Shivani Gopal from The Remarkable Woman suggests going in high. “Ask for a discount that’s larger than the one you want,” she advises. “The one you end up settling on ends up being just about right for both parties.”
Pay rise negotiating: Proven strategies to get the pay rise you deserve
4. Bundle and save
Streamlining your services can help improve your negotiation leverage as your business is worth more overall to the supplier. It makes you an attractive, high-value customer with proven payment history. Good bundles to put with one supplier might include:
- Communications – mobile phone(s), internet, entertainment
- Energy – electricity and gas
- Insurance – home, contents, personal, car, pet
- Home – cleaning, gardening, pool care
- Banking – savings, home loan, car loan, personal loan
Top tip: Don’t underestimate the savings you can make by cutting down on your energy consumption in the first place. Switch off lights, hang washing out instead of using the dryer, use the economy cycle on your appliances and turn down your heating. No negotiating required!
More useful tips: 5 ways to get a better deal from the big banks
5. Be prepared to change suppliers
If you simply can’t get your current supplier to reduce their price to your satisfaction, it’s time to go. Luckily, you’ve done all that research in preparation to negotiate a better deal, so you should know exactly where to move your business. Don’t forget to call up your proposed new supplier to negotiate an even better deal than the one they are advertising. At this point, you’ve certainly got nothing to lose and plenty of money to gain.
Top tip: Even when you change suppliers, don’t get complacent. Continue to check the market from time to time to make sure you’re still getting the best possible deal.
This article contains general information only. It should not be relied on as finance or tax advice. You should obtain specific, independent professional advice from a registered tax agent or financial adviser in relation to your particular circumstances and issues.