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Brownie Points

Alan Smith
Negotiation Brownie Points Converted

As any parent will know whilst we are always proud of our kids, they are rarely anything other than blasé about us.

I can always remember reading David Cameron’s (Britain’s ex-PM and disastrous engineer of the Brexit referendum, other views may possibly be held) accounts of going home to his young family after attending a G7 with the most important political leaders in the world. Apparently, he was told by his kids that he was rubbish at reading bedtime stories. Keeping it real! Hard to think too much of yourself with young kids.

My own school of hard knocks was when, (and if I’ve told you this before, please humour me,) my daughter came home from school and asked me to help with her homework. She was doing A-level biology at the time and I was clearly not helping at all. She said why are my parents so stupid, why can’t I live with parents like Rupert (name changed to protect the innocent) whose parents worked on the Human Genome Project.

So it is with great pleasure and little humility that I offer a story here that for once got a small amount of praise from my youngest daughter for yours truly, the author.

Having just qualified as a Doctor she has landed a job at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. A new(ish) teaching hospital in the UK’s second-largest city.

She has been travelling from our home in Sussex looking to rent a flat in the city close to the hospital, and demand as you may expect is pretty high.

Having found a flat and in urgent need of securing it she called me for some advice.

Without being overly dramatic the only time my daughter calls me is when the car has broken down or there are unruly teenagers making a racket nearby (I once arrived at one of my kid's flats in nothing but my boxers to disturb some shifty individuals which has gone down in legend at the Smith house. I assumed they ran away because of my impressive physique my kids say it was because they thought I was clearly and visibly insane).

The advice she wanted was on how to get a better deal on the flat. She said as a so-called negotiation expert what advice could I offer on how could she negotiate a better rate.

A couple of questions later I realised the price of the flat was not the problem it was the cost of parking. Both she and her boyfriend had to buy a parking permit for the property and it was quite a bit on top.

My first question was had they asked for a better rate for 2 cars?

She said no, but was that all I could offer in terms of advice?

I said ask for a discount of 20% on two cars and call me back. Moments later the phone rang. She said they had said no to 20% but offered 12.5%. I said call them back and say that if they could hit the 20% you would pay quarterly in advance.

An hour later she called me to say they had agreed. £50 a month off was nothing compared to the priceless feeling of my daughter saying thanks Dad.

What’s my point aside from a little brag.

Well, the 2 mistakes my daughter made are classic 101 problems. The first is don’t negotiate with yourself. Being afraid to ask for what you want or assuming the other side will say no will prevent more deals from being requested than any other in my humble opinion.

The second is what to do when you do not achieve your objective. Think about using concessions to drive a better deal. Paying in advance is not a problem for her as sadly the Bank Of Mum and Dad is still open. But if it drives a need or value from the other side it can really help build a deal that works for both.

By the way, empty nest syndrome is not a problem, it is a blessed release.

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