18 Essential Negotiating Rules for Architecture/ Engineering Firms

PSMJ Resources, Inc.
Posted on: 04/12/18
Written by: PSMJ Resources, Inc.

downloadsp-5“Win-win” is important to the client and the architecture or engineering firm. It sets the best possible stage for a successful project. But how can it be achieved?

Here are a few simple rules to think about during the actual negotiation sessions.

  1. Attempt to promote a “win-win” situation.

  2. Be prepared. Understand every detail and connection among the scope of services, schedule, and fee.

  3. Try to negotiate only with someone who has the authority to commit to the client. When legal issues are raised, they are often best resolved between your firm’s attorney and the client’s attorney.

  4. Prepare a confidential list of items that can be deleted from the scope of services without compromising the integrity of the project.

  5. Never accept the first offer, even if it meets your goal. The other party is probably willing to make some concessions and you may come away with more than you expected.

  6. Never give a concession without getting one in return. A concession granted too easily does not contribute to the other party’s satisfaction nearly as much as one he or she struggles to obtain. In fact, it may cause the client to conclude that you were trying to take advantage of him or her.

  7. Don’t make the first concession. Research shows that losers tend to make the first concession on major issues.

  8. When the other party makes a concession, don’t feel shy or guilty about accepting it. Take it.

  9. Don’t lose track of how many concessions have been made. The overall amount can provide bargaining leverage. Keep a record.

  10. Before negotiating, draw up a list of every issue. Establish an aspiration level, a minimum acceptable level, an initial asking price for each issue, and a “walk away” threshold.

  11. Every concession should move the negotiations closer to some goal. Spend concessions wisely.

  12. Be careful not to telegraph the concession pattern. Each concession should point to a possible area of settlement. But the other side should not be certain where it will be.

  13. Don’t honor the opponent’s unreasonable demand by making a counter offer. Insist on a reduction in the initial unreasonable demand.

  14. Concessions do not have to be matched in kind. Don’t make concessions with the goal of being equal. Some common-sense negotiating goals: Exchange little for much, now for later, little issues for bigger issues, and obscure items for clear ones.

  15. Don’t feel compelled to stick with a specific concession. Remind the opponent that all concessions on individual issues are tentative, based on reaching an overall satisfactory agreement.

  16. Try to identify one minor issue on which you will make the last concession that will terminate the negotiation and achieve agreement.This will allow your client to leave the negotiation in a positive frame of mind.

  17. Remember that you will very likely have to work with the people you negotiate with. Don’t give them the idea that you are trying to extract every ounce of advantage. The goal is to reach an agreement that’s fair and beneficial to both parties.

  18. Never, ever, sacrifice the overall quality of the project. 

pricing&neg.jpgEver wonder if there really is a way to get the upper hand in negotiations? A way to get the fees (and respect) that you deserve…without losing the client? There is. PSMJ's A/E/C Pricing and Negotiations Workshop is packed with 40+ years of proven strategies and tactics that the most successful architecture and engineering professionals are using to get results.Learn more now!
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