How To Buy Goods And Services

Businessmen often get lectured about how to make sales, sales, sales, but they don't often consider: 'could my buying technique be improved?'

Buying property, a loan or a car could be the purchase that will break you, if it comes before a bad patch. Buying the wrong vehicle at the wrong price eats into money that could be spent more productively.

So how can you buy, like the canny housewife? Here are a few tips:

1. Do You Need It?

Sure, you want it. It's shiny and tempting. Could be a million bucks has gone into making it desirable e.g. Apple pc's. So what?

Desire isn't a good reason to buy anything; need is. Teenage girls go goofy for strappy shoes. Grown men get twitchy around chrome and black gloss. So let them. Don't worship at the temple of consumerism. Leave that to the weekenders.

You know you need something if your business simply can't function without it any more. Otherwise, stay in the shed on the wrong side of the tracks, drive a wreck for the daily commute and rent a Jag when you need to impress a client.

2. Who To Buy From?

Company A: Been in business for 40 years, industry leader, made the product that made the market;
Company B: Been in business for 10 years, snapping at A's heels but not likely to overtake them;
Company C: Sources goods from China, cheap as chips, gets lots of gripey reviews from basement dwellers with no money, but their product does the job. For a year or two.

Buy from A. If you need it, you need it to last. If it's office supplies, buy from C; your minions don't need Parker pens to write on post-it notes.

3. How Much To Pay?

Simple rule: ask for 5-10% off. Most businesses will give you that, as they have a 30%+ markup. Or they should! Except big consumer items like TVs or fridges; these have terrible margins.

Don't get too clever or you may cheese off the salesman and he either won't give you any bonuses, or he'll try to stiff you down the line, because he decides he doesn't like you.

What salesmen absolutely hate is someone who takes up 20 minutes of their time haggling over a £90 sale. When the time comes, if there's any leeway or extras to be had, they won't be coming your way.

For services, like food, leave a tip. The consumer is often not just wrong, but mean. Some are downright obnoxious. When you come back again, you want to be greeted with a smile, not have your food interfered with!

4. How To Haggle?

You can try the old traditionals like cash upfront, buy today, buy 5 of something and watch the clerk perk up.  Then ask for 1 free item, or a discount. Here knowledge of the market in which your item sits, helps.

Personally, I prefer to be Mr. Nice Guy rather than That Guy. If you go into the same place a lot and you are, objectively, a good customer, it makes for a nicer life than being Scrooge McTightwad. For a small outlay you get a lot of good will back and maybe a heads-up on something very important, down the line.

This applies especially if you live in an area, or work in a niche, where people gossip and your reputation is important.

The above does not apply in the following cases:

When buying a car on hire-purchase;
When buying add-ons, like insurance, for consumer goods;
When getting a mortgage, loan or any other kind of finance.

In these instances, put the screws on! You're swimming with sharks and you're their next meal!

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