I recently facilitated a seminar at NACE about negotiations where I described how to negotiate more successfully and increase profits. The key factors were building relationships with those you do business with and developing an understanding of their focus in the negotiation.
Regardless if you are dealing with a vehicle owner, insurance adjuster or a vendor the process should be the same. You must involve yourself enough with the other party to understand what their goal is as it is just as important as knowing what your goals are. It is pointless to try to negotiate for something the other party is not capable of providing.
To begin the process you will need to know your limitations, which should be governed by your core values. You should never negotiate against your core values, mission statement or company vision. Doing so would tarnish those values and diminish your credibility with business partners. Once they learn your values can be manipulated you become vulnerable to increased accommodations.
Whether it is a paint contract or a repair appraisal you should be aware of the things you can live with and the things that should be changed. You should read the contract or appraisal with the mindset that you want a win-win and look for opportunities to offer trade-offs for things you find unacceptable. Becoming familiar with the other party and learning about their core values or vision helps with this process.
I always find it helpful to talk to an insurance adjuster and find out what their targets were early in the process. Finding out what an adjuster is getting measured on helped me negotiate a profitable appraisal. If I knew for instance that a target was to reduce blending I would write "blend within panel" where possible but add time necessary to bring a repaired panel to blend standards. The additional time required to take a panel that was repaired to 320 grit to 1000 grit blend standard was put on a separate line with an appropriate line note. The adjuster met his target and I received what I deserved for repairing the panel, a win-win if you will.