Wheeling and Dealing
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When you have selected a bike that you want, don't just walk up and pay for it. You can start making money right from the beginning. If the bike is marked $20, and you dicker the price down to $15, that is the same as making $5. Its like you can buy lunch with money you otherwise would not have had.
10% of yard sale prices are firm. The rest of the time, you can save money. There are some specific tactics that will help.
Foremost, set in your mind what is the most you can pay for that bike and make a profit. You can open with a lower offer, but you must know what the cut-off limit is before you get into the heat of the battle.
A good opening offer is 2/3 of the asking price. It is ok to offer less, but not if you are serious about getting that bike, and if the price is already reasonable. Upsetting the seller with too low an offer is a real detriment to winning a deal.
If the marked price is way too high (and if you have time), on the other hand , then you have nothing to lose by offering a very low price. Speak up, you may score a good deal that you would have assumed was out of the budget.
Have you read the classic how-to book by Dale Carnegie called How to Win Friends and Influence People? You may think the title is silly, but this is a very good book that teaches many important tips about wheeling and dealing. The basic idea is to see a deal from the other person's point of view and try to design an offer that appeals to the other person and to you. Making the seller feel good about you and about the deal is a major part in winning. With these techniques, you can accomplish great things. Here is an example of wheeling and dealing from yesterday:
Seller: "Hi, do you buy bikes?"
Jeff: "Yes, lets go over to your pick-up truck and see what you have."
Seller: "I have this ladies 3-speed, this Huffy men's 10- speed, and this chrome BMX bike with alloy rims."
Jeff: "How much did you want to get for these bikes?"
Seller: "For the 3-speed and the 10-speed, I'll settle for $30 each, and for the BMX bike, I need to get $50.
Note: Jeff looked at the seller, his wife, the junk on the dash board and the front seat, his truck and the bikes and decided there is no problem here, the seller does in fact seem honest. Jeff then took a couple of minutes to spin the wheels and generally look the bikes over.
Jeff: "These bikes are in good condition, I see your family takes good care of things. The two big bikes are worth at least what you're asking, and the BMX bike is worth more than $50, to the right buyer. You could probably get the amount you want if you put a want ad in the newspaper. "But I can't pay you that much. These are about the prices I charge for these bikes myself, so I would not be able to pay you a good price. If you could come back in the spring, when I'll need these I can pay you more than I could today."
Seller: "Well I put these in the truck to sell them, I don't want to take them home. How much would you pay me today exactly?"
Jeff: "You'll probably feel bad about my offer, and you really can get more by selling them yourself through a newspaper ad. I can pay $30 for the BMX, $10 for the 10- speed and I wish I had a use for the 3-speed, but I just don't. Ladies 3-speeds are hard to sell. I guess you wanted to get $110 for everything, and I can only offer $40 for two of them. If you want to wait and see what happens, I can wait for you. See if you can get more for them somewhere else, then a month from now, my offer will still be good. That will give you time to think it over, too, since my offer is so low."
Seller: "Take them for $40, I don't really want to drive all over the county to sell these things, I don't have time. That 3-speed, you can have for free, I don't want it."
Jeff: "Thanks, just fill out your name, address, etc., on this form and here's your cash."
The strong points in this transaction that you may have missed are that the seller was made to picture what would be involved in selling the bikes elsewhere. He would have to pay for a want ad, and then entertain potential buyers. Or, he would have to drive to other bike stores and wheel and deal with them. He also saw that I was not hungry for these bikes, that I was acting honestly and fairly with him. He probably decided that he would rather deal with my personality than anyone else he was likely to meet. He realized that if he did dump the bikes for my price, he would have cash right now, and he could finish the "sell the bikes" errand now. Most importantly, I let him know that I respected his position, the bikes were "worth more than I could offer". I said it without making him feel uncomfortable or ridiculous in any way. Remember these points when you are selling.
There is much information available on salesmanship and wheeling and dealing. Some of these books are good, some not so good, but reading in this field will be profitable to you. The book How to Sell Anything to Anybody by Joe Girard is recommended. Practice will help you too. We'll cover it in greater detail in a later chapter.
Now you know enough to go make some money without getting burned by uninformed mistakes. The next section will tell you all about expanding your possibilities. If you can repair, clean, paint bikes, if you can sell them yourself, if you can offer repairs to the public, if you can stock used parts for sale, or for your repairs, or if you can buy new merchandise for resale, you can make even more money.
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