Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Art of Negotiation

Illustration by Cheryl A. Pamplin

Want to get the most bang for your buck when it comes to choosing your wedding vendors? Below are five tips to help you negotiate the best possible prices and services:
1. Stick To Your Budget
Before meeting with any vendors, sit down and create a realistic budget for your wedding.  Create a list of the different types of vendors you will be working with and the maximum amount you are able to spend on each service. Once you have the numbers in your head, it will be harder to lose sight of your ultimate goal. If a vendor offers packages, they may be willing to tweak it to fit your budget.

2. Do Your Homework
A good strategy for negotiating with vendors is to know what their competitors are charging for similar services.  Get an itemized quote from each vendor you meet with, then make a comparison. Use this as leverage in your negotiation.  If another vendor is offering more bang for your buck, point it out to your vendor of choice and see if it would be possible to throw in a few extra services or provide a discount to make up the difference.

3. Be Willing To Compromise
The are of negotiation is all about give and take. A vendor is more likely to oblige your request if you are willing to meet somewhere in the middle. Don't walk into an appointment with the mentality that you are going to get the vendor to lower their price or you'll walk away.  Find a way to compromise. Perhaps your venue may extend a discount if you have your reception on a non-peak night (think weekdays, or maybe even an afternoon reception),  or ask your photographer to throw in a few extra shots if you agree to use him/her for your engagement photos. Remember, negotiating is not about getting something for nothing. It's all about finding a happy medium.

4. Don't Be Afraid To Ask
Have you ever heard the term "closed mouths don't get fed"? Well, when it comes to negotiating, this statement couldn't be any more true.  If you want something, simply ask. The worst that can happen is that you'll be told no, but usually it's a "No, but what I can do is..." More often than not, vendors are willing to be flexible...within reason. After all, there goal is to please you, the client. The bottom line is if you don't ask for what you want, you run the risk of not getting what you want.

5. Be Nice, But Firm
The right choice of words and tone of voice is the key to negotiating successfully. Always be polite when asking for a discount or upgrade, never give the impression that it is your way or the highway. It is a proven fact that most people respond favorably to kindness. But remember, don't let your kindness be mistaken for weakness. Be very clear and direct about what it is you are asking for, in the nicest way possible. Don't forget to smile!

Remember, the goal is not just to get a vendor to come down on their price, but to be sure you are getting the most value for your money.  Never insult a vendor by demanding you get a certain price. You will be working with professionals who are experienced in their particular field, so they should be paid as such!

Happy Planning!

Nikola Ahaiwe
Owner/Lead Coordinator
Platinum Touch Events
(310) 722-2873

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