Reflections on a recent negotiation

I am in the process of organising my wedding, and recently had an interesting negotiation over the final contract with our preferred photographer.

Part of the package that they put forward included 100 thank-you cards. We had already organised to get our thank-you cards printed with our invitations, so had no need for this.

We certainly didn’t want to pay for something we didn’t need. So I expressed this interest and asked what he could do. I put forward an option of a 10 x15 inch framed photo instead of the thank-you cards, and they agreed to this substitution. I looked up the value of the 100 cards ($370) and the 10×15 ($280) which meant that there was $90 left. Referring to these standards I asked what else I could get for the $90 and the photographer didn’t have any suggestions. So I proposed a couple of smaller framed photos – for example, a 10 x 8. The person who I was speaking to didn’t have the authority to make that commitment, but agreed to run that idea past his boss.

I then expressed concern with the terms of the contract which said “75% of payment needed 2 weeks before the wedding” and “balance on collection of proofs.” I asked the standards question “Why is it due on collection of proofs rather than collection of the album?”, and also mentioned some other objective standards: “Based on my previous research, other photographers ask for balance at receipt of album.”

He responded by saying that some couples leave their album for months and months and this means he doesn’t receive his money in a timely way. So he effectively expressed his interest behind the terms stipulated in the contract as well as a standard. I then asked if there is flexibility in this requirement, and he assured me yes, ”if you have concerns about this, we are happy to speak about this further.”

So what was agreed to? Payment upon receipt of album and proofs to be handed over with the final payment. A great outcome – one that reflected our respective interests and relevant objective standards, and which was reached efficiently and amicably… now on to trying similar strategies with the florist, the dressmaker and the caterer. Wish me luck!

Rebecca Stowe

To learn more about interest based negotiation, we recommend the book “Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher & William Ury.”

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