Articles

Negotiating with Customers – Beating the Haggling Habit

October 2009

In some cultures, haggling is expected. For instance, visit a souk in Egypt or elsewhere in the Middle East; if you don’t haggle, the stall vendor is offended. However, visit a comparable stall in Japan and try to haggle, and you’ll do well if the vendor doesn’t ask you to leave. Haggling is largely a cultural thing, but it is increasing in incidence in the US. This is particularly true in the art and craft fair environment. How do you successfully negotiate with customers? How do you ensure that you get the profit you need and deserve, while still making the customer feel as though he or she got a great deal?

 

Haggling (politely termed negotiating), goes on at all craft fairs. You’ll have a customer ask you, “Is this the lowest price you’ll take?” You think, “Of course it is!” but respond politely, “Yes, ma’am, it is.” You might encounter questions of “If I buy two, will you cut down the price?” or, “I’ll give you X dollars for that piece right there.”

 

Negotiating with customers is a delicate procedure and should not be entered into lightly. It is much simpler to stick to your guns and explain that the price listed is the price you’ll take. Of course, if the fair has been slow and it’s the last day, chances are you’re willing to cut down on your prices just a bit, in order to salvage some profit from the experience.

 

However, it’s important that you decide for yourself if reducing your price to satisfy your customer is worth it. If you are like most crafters, then you are barely making any profit from your wares, as is. For the customer to ask for an additional discount can seem like an insult. Don’t take offense, but if you have decided haggling is not for you, remain firm on the price. Most vendors only offer discounted prices if the customer purchases in serious volume (think 10 or more pieces).

 

You can offer alternative options to those customers who insist on a discount. For instance, if they purchase an expensive item, throw in something that complements it (that cost you only a few dollars to make) free of charge. The customer feels as though they’ve gotten a good deal and you don’t lose any profit. You can also use package pricing and similar strategies that maximize your profit, while still saving your customer money.

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