Once when I was a child, I got to watch my grandpa negotiate a tough deal with a bank teller. Essentially, the bank we went to was giving out free stools that doubled as a little workbench with small compartments for scissors or screwdrivers, etc.
My grandfather open a new bank account and got this excellent stool. However, he wanted one for his daughter (my mother). He said he would gladly open a new bank account for another stool. And the banks said, “Sorry, one item per customer.”
But that didn’t stop a scrappy Italian from Queens NY. He was persistent. From there, my grandfather asked the lady if she knew the CD rates for a competing bank. Obviously, she replied “no, she didn’t“. His response, “Well, I’ll let you know, because I am about to open multiple CDs over there and give them thousands of dollars simply because they don’t limit their gifts one per customer”.
Needless to say, my mom got a nice handy stool/workbench for the following Christmas. And grandpa then went on to the local grocery store to haggle for lower prices on produce (and he always came out on top).
This was my first introduction to business. And from there, I went on to negotiate landscaping deals as a teen, to large IT projects as a professional. Even to this very day, I threaten the local bank every year to see how high I can hike up the CD rates on my personal accounts, or I cal l the internet provider to see what promotions they offer. I don’t always come out on top. But I usually only spend an additional 30 seconds by simply asking for a better deal. Most of the time, I actually get it.
“Swim upstream. Go the other way. Ignore the conventional wisdom. If everybody is doing it one way, there’s a good chance you can find your niche by going exactly in the opposite direction”
– Sam Walton
By the way, the book Made in America by Sam Walton is a must read. I really enjoyed the personality of Mr. Walton, but the book is also a great lesson in business.