Win-Win Negotiation: How I Made $500 In Ten Minutes

 “I’d like to add that negotiating is not something to be avoided or feared – it’s an everyday part of life.” ~Leigh Steinberg

Win-win negotiation means that both parties leave the negotiation happy. Of course, you want to get what you want, but the best negotiations leave with both parties feeling satisfied. 

How I saved $500 with win win negotiation

Win-Win Negotiation in Everyday Life

There is hardly a consumer situation I’ve encountered that wouldn’t benefit from a little negotiation. If you take the opportunity to negotiate-for a better price or an add-on service, you’ll bank more money over time. And each year, tack on extra cash and over time, it adds up.

Here’s a story from the beginning days of this website, to show you how a bit of organization and negotiation saved me $500.

Several years ago I got a call from the mechanic looking at my 1998 SUV with 100,000 miles on the odometer. He had the nerve to tell me that my timing belt needed replacing. Ordinarily, on an older car it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Yet, I had recently replaced the timing belt.

A quick view of my computerized record of all of my car maintenance showed that the timing belt had been replaced at 90,000, just 10,000 miles previously. Now, I didn’t remember the manual suggesting that the timing belt needed replacing every 10,000 miles. So, I asked the mechanic, “How long is the timing belt supposed to last?” 

He replied, About 60,000 miles.

In a matter of fact and cordial tone I mentioned, “You just installed a new timing belt about 10,000 miles ago and since the average timing belt life span is about 60,000 miles, I’m unwilling to pay for a new one.”

In this win-win negotiation strategy, I laid out the problem and surrounding issue. That same mechanic had recently installed a new timing belt. If the car needed a new one, and that same mechanic had installed the old one, then it’s unreasonable for me to pay for another one just 10,000 miles later. 

In the next part of this win-win negotiation strategy, I explained my loyalty to this repair shop as well as my options, should he not pay for the new timing belt. 

Next, I mentioned to the mechanic, “As you know, I have used your company exclusively for the past 6 years. What can you do for me?”

In my mind, I was thinking about my options.  I had in my mind that I would be willing to split the cost of the repair with the company. Additionally, I was also willing to go to another mechanic if they would not stand by their work. I had nothing to loose.

As I expected, the auto repair company agreed to cover the cost of parts, about $500 for the timing belt and accompanying parts, and I paid about $350 for the labor.

The end result of this win-win negotiation was $500 savings for me, for 10 minutes of my time.

Win-Win Negotiation-Anything is Negotiable

In most negotiating situations there is a middle ground that leaves you and the other party satisfied. Yet, if you don’t stand up for yourself and try to get the best deal you can for yourself, you will definitely lose.

Here’s another win-win negotiation example. I’m one of those “cable holdouts”. My spouse and I are big televisions watchers and we love having all of the premium channels. Yet, it’s expensive, and the rates continue to rise. Yet, every time I get a price increase, I call up the cable company, tell them I’m willing to switch to satellite and end up with a lower price on our cable service and frequently more service. This last time, I got extra channels, a DVR recorder and voice activated remote, for less money than my previous bill.  

Whenever you attempt to negotiate, the worst result is a no response. The best result is free. Somewhere in between is frequently where you end up. 

The best negotiation is one in which both parties leave satisfied! When negotiating, consider a reasonable outcome and work towards that result. The more you negotiate the more money you have to spend on other things and invest for the future. 

Simple Step by Step to a Win-Win Negotiation Result

Negotiation is a skill, and requires a system and practice.

Win-win negotiation steps:                       

  1. First gather information. Fortunately, in the timing belt negotiation, I had previous vehicle maintenance records.
  2. Set acceptable outcomes in your mind.
  3. Let the company know what a loyal customer you are.
  4. State your case to the other party in a calm and reasoned manner.
  5. Ask for what you want and explain why you deserve it.
  6. Let the other party know the consequences, if they don’t offer a solution for your request.
  7. If you are not getting the result you want, continue to offer reasonable options.
  8. Ultimately, you can always walk away and choose another vendor.

Win-Win Negotiation-Idea to Result

Negotiate something today. Practice with your son, daughter, husband, wife, boss, co-worker, or anyone you are dealing with.

Then practice again tomorrow. The more you negotiate, the more you get what you want!

Use your negotiation savings to build wealth for the future.

Disclaimer:  I am a portfolio manager, former university finance instructor, and successful investor committed to sharing my personal finance expertise with you. I am not a licensed ...

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Barbara A. Friedberg 7 years ago Contributor's comment

Hi Alex and Bill,

Alex, I also am cautious and that's why I keep detailed records of when I had work done, what it was and the cost.

Bill, Agreed. We were kind of in the middle as it had been awhile since the belt had been replaced. If it was a shorter time period or fewer miles, I would have fought harder for the mechanic to pay for the entire bill.

Alexa Graham 7 years ago Member's comment

Great story with the mechanic. I always fear they are trying to rip me off!

Bill Johnson 7 years ago Member's comment

My take would have been that if the belt was good for 60k miles, and it failed after 10k miles, the failure must have been due to an improper installation or faulty part - which is their responsibility. They should have replaced it for free! But as you said, often you end up someplace in the middle, even with the best negotiator.