Get creative with wish lists

Published: Oct 24 , 2013
Author: John Leehman

During courses, we’re often asked about using Scotwork’s negotiating skills when buying automobiles.  My recent experience offers a good example.

 We were looking for an economical car for my son Dane, who was racking up lots of miles on his eight-hour round-trip to college in our five-year-old SUV with diminishing fuel economies. Then we found a 2001 Honda Civic that Dane fell in love with immediately.  One owner, low mileage, great fuel economy, good price and a four-speed shift. A match made in heaven!

 In negotiating the final deal, it was immediately clear that we wouldn’t get substantial movement on price. So a robust wish list became imperative to improve our position. But on the surface, what do you put on the list? The car was perfect with all the features we wanted. 

 Remembering that a good wish-list item is something that doesn’t cost the other side much but is valuable to you, we started with warranty and service options. Then we got creative.

One of the car’s big selling features was that the dealer had done a great job of detailing to make it look new.  After a year at college, our SUV did not!  Plus the SUV was an eight-hour round trip away from our home, and since I’m out of town so much, it would be difficult for me to bring the Civic there.

Our final deal included the Civic at a well-negotiated price with these wish-list items:

  • A six-month powertrain warranty
  • Free initial oil change
  • Complete in-and-out detailing on the SUV
  • A companion driver to assist Dane in getting the SUV back to us.

We got all these items, which were valuable to us but didn’t cost the dealer much. Plus, the dealer got Dane’s first servicing locked up and a chance to build an ongoing relationship. Good deals work when both sides get what they want most.

John Leehman


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About the author:

John Leehman
John has been an entrepreneur for four decades, building nationally recognized companies in the construction, fashion, health & wellness and consumer products industries. He brings this wealth of negotiation and management experience to transform the performance of his clients.

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