Are you sick of overpaying for maintenance repairs? 

Learn our conflict free process to negotiate prices and save money.

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Great facilities managers learn to get a lot done with few resources. One of the most limited resources is money since most facilities maintenance departments are treated like a cost center…a necessary evil on the profit and loss statement.

So how do you make sure you get the most done with the limited budget you have? You have to learn to negotiate effectively.

If you are like most people, you may view negotiation as a conflict ridden, haggling process like buying a car. So…you end up taking the price you are offered, or telling your counterpart you’ll think about it when you really mean you are going to shop around for another quote or price. Or…your strategy might be to throw out a low offer and then meet in the middle.

These are the wrong approaches to negotiation. They leave both you and your counterpart feeling like you left something on the table, gave up too much, or gave in too soon. And most likely, you are going to think twice about dealing with them again.

If this is you feel about negotiation, then we are glad you are reading this. If you are frustrated with the constant conflict of negotiating prices with your vendors, or the hassle of finding quote after quote to get a better price, or giving up and meeting in the middle, you are going to love the Team Envoy negotiation system.

We came up with this system because we are trusted with our customer’s money when we manage facilities and equipment repairs on their behalf. It is necessary that we offer value at every level of the process. We determined it is absolutely possible to charge a management fee and still invoice our customers less than they would pay their vendors if they had just managed the work themselves. Our job is to be expert work order managers, so we needed a foolproof and repeatable way to decrease prices. We are sharing our exact process with you.

When we set out to create a teachable negotiation system for our work order management team, we had 3 criteria.

First…it needed to be easily understood. Our people need a easy system to follow.

Second…it needed to be effective over 90% of the time. There is no point in spending the time if it doesn’t work.

Third…it needed to leave both sides feeling comfortable afterwards. What is the point of getting lower prices if our vendors never want to work for us again?

With all of this in mind we hit the books, did our research, and went through a couple of years of trial and error. What follows is a step by step process for duplicating this process for you and your team.

Step 1: Understand the power of silence and tone.

The most effective tool you have in negotiation is the ability to be silent. Depending on your personality, this is either really easy or really difficult. Either way…it is a must. You don’t win negotiations by doing the most talking. You win them by being willing to be silent and listen.

There is a natural human tendency to fill silence with noise. In conversation, we fill silence with speaking. When you ask a question or make a statement, learn how to speak in short sentences and then be quiet until the other person starts talking.

Step 2: Create the need for communication.

At Envoy, we use tools like Not-To-Exceed dollar amounts to force a conversation. This makes sure someone from our team gets to talk to our vendors after they arrive onsite, but before any major work is performed. It also allows us to know what is going on so we can document the scope and communicate it with our customers.

Step 3: Know your questions.

You don’t have to be a subject matter expert to negotiate well. You just need to ask pointed questions with confidence and be able to stay quiet (remember step 1). We are literally going to give you the questions we ask on every price approval that delivers significant savings on over 90% of the work orders we manage. These questions have saved our customers hundreds of thousands of dollars since we started using them. These are powerful.

Your vendor is going to present their price. Sometimes they will tell you what they are going to do…the scope of work. They will use a lot of industry jargon. Don’t worry about that. Make sure you take notes about the scope of work. You will need it for the first question. This is what it looks like.

“So, what you are saying is you need to [repeat the scope back in detail], and that is going to cost [dollar amount]?”

Yes this is a statement framed as a question. It is important that you get this one right. You’re tone needs to sound confused and never accusatory. Remember to be silent until they talk. Most of the savings you will get will come in this moment. Likely, they will drop the price or say yes. Either way, move on to the next question.

“I see. And how much of this price is labor?”

Silence. Let them answer and take a note.

“How much time is this repair going to take?”

Silence. Let them answer and take a note.

“Thank you for helping me out. So, that makes [difference between total and labor amount] of that price material? Is that really correct?”

Again, sound confused and not accusatory. Be silent…uncomfortably silent. Wait for the price to come down.

“And how sure are you that [labor time] is exactly how long it will take?”

Silence. Let them answer and take a note.

“How does this scope repair to a normal repair like this one?”

Silence. Let them answer and take a note.

“Are you able to charge less if it takes less time?”

Silence. Let them answer, and keep being silent until they speak again.

Finally, you are going to ask for a specific price drop if they have not yet droppedthe price. This is what you need to say.

“Thank you for helping me understand all of this. If I can approve [the price you want] for this repair, are you able to do it right now?”

Step 4: Get commitment on the time frame of the repair and approve the price.

The last step is making sure you know when the work will be done. You will want to send some written communication to the vendor via email or text with the exact scope, the price, and the timeframe for the repair. Thank them for helping you get the work done.

Wrap Up

This entire process is built around clarifying questions and listening. With the correct tone, silence, and questions, you are armed and ready to be an effective, conflict free negotiator.

This process does require a some time. We know because we do this every day for our customers. Our goal is that our invoices are lower than what our customers would pay if they directly managed vendors, even with our management charges. 

Curious about learning more of Team Envoy’s process, tips, and tricks? We are here to chat and answer your questions.