No matter what you are negotiating learning how to do so with skill is imperative.  Spa owners and directors routinely negotiate a number of things from contracts with employees to leases and licensing agreements. The artful skill of negotiation includes various components.


If you Can’t Walk Away…You Aren’t Negotiating

At the end of the day if you want something be prepared to either lose it or pay for it. How badly do you want the item or relationship that you are negotiating for? A great example is comparing your business situation with wanting a beautiful bauble. “Bling” or fanciful jewelry is always a negotiated item. For the most part, in fact, if you are negotiating for a gorgeous stone of some kind it truly gets down to the three C’s: cut, clarity and color along with the price. That is why jewelers love to tie a setting into a simple engagement ring purchase. They want to draw in the visual to create an emotional response in the purchaser’s mind along with emotional response of the item. Wanting a specific item is different than wanting an E, VVS1, 4 carat, princess cut diamond. One can negotiate for a specific item but not for an undefined object.

When purchasing items for the spa the case is no different. When purchasing a hydrotherapy tub, for example, find out exactly what each particular tub has as features. Break the item offering into specific components and then do a needs assessment and a comparison chart to determine down to the minutia, what the product offers in comparison to what your specific needs are. Include training, support, warranties, and product design in those categories. Clients often look for the cheapest price on the Internet instead of thinking of quality. Furthermore, inexperienced spa owners and directors may not understand the differences between models of equipment. Consequently, they aren’t comparing apples to apples. It is necessary to define the product specifically before attempting to negotiate a price. Furthermore, it is crucial that the purchaser not become attached to a color, specific design or manufacturer. Don’t fall in love but rather, negotiate.

Listen and Watch

MeetingDon’t talk too much. The Japanese are famous for their negotiating skills in corporate settings. Why?  Westerners and particularly Americans are uncomfortable when there is silence. We get nervous and become gabby—even blabby. The Japanese have an artful way of sitting back and allowing those types of negotiators to spill their purse of information, details and emotions. During a negotiation, the one who speaks the least wins.

Listening is the fastest path to learning when negotiating. When one speaks they are literally giving the other negotiating party tips. By their nuances, mannerisms, tone of voice and speaking rhythms the speaking party freely parts with their agenda. Those who remain in silence are able to listen and also to think. The Japanese, in fact, often use body language code to formulate a defense while negotiating. Chop wood, carry water and listen, look and learn.

This tenant holds especially true during spa employee interviewing. Let the frenetic, aspiring candidate blab. They will go on and on about everything while revealing their strengths, weaknesses and character flaws. They will also reveal what questions to ask and where to take the interview to get to the next level of understanding if they might be a fit for the company.

Hold Out and Be Tough

Nothing is tougher than the ability to have non-negotiable terms. Especially when casually stated and enforced these givens are instantly accepted while offering the feel of power. Great examples are your spa’s true givens like, “we don’t allow technicians to be independent contractors or we don’t allow smoking at the spa.” Tougher givens are topics like, “I can’t sign more than a three year lease or this is our budget for this project.”

Being firm is another approach to this type of defense. “No means no” is probably what a lot of mothers have said over the years but it also works in a boardroom. What do you say to a negotiating party who say absolutely no to a particular part of the deal? Probably nothing because no means no. This type of defense forces the other party to rethink their strategy. It also drains the pond of what they can negotiate for into a manageable puddle.

Don’t be a Jerk

Teamwork Business…And…don’t be cocky or dishonest. Think win/win. It is good for the soul to negotiate winning arrangements. Furthermore, win/wins produce for big returns. Even if a large deal falls through by being polite to all involved, the relationship isn’t dead and may lead to future beneficial relationships. Beyond this there is so much more involved like a spa’s reputation and the ability to negotiate in the future. While becoming a hard negotiator does set the opponent back a bit, becoming a comrade creates a lot more mileage towards the winner’s circle than Machiavelli could ever comprehend. Finally, allow the opponent to save face. It is a small world and it is important they walk away unwounded.

While being authentic stay focused. Mental stamina is worth the bank when negotiating. Have a plan, do your research, take comprehensive notes and get your rest the night before. Negotiations are changed at the slightest phrase, the minutest flaw and the smallest impression.

Negotiating is a life skill. The art of cooperation, emotional management, people management and creating winning opportunities is not a light topic. However, it is one worth exploring. Winning and fighting while negotiating new relationships is a skill and a necessary component to getting ahead in this ever growing industry.