Truck News


Editorial Comment: Negotiating skills are an essential tool

"The market will determine pricing."

James Menzies

James Menzies

“The market will determine pricing.”

It’s a term that’s tossed around a lot in the trucking industry. Translated, it means: “We’ll charge what we can get for it.”

And who can argue with that business strategy? If you found a carrier willing to pay you five bucks a mile to haul freight, you’d be crazy not to accept it. It’s free enterprise at its finest. And there’s nothing wrong with it. However, market-driven pricing also means that the amount you pay for a product depends largely on your negotiating skills.

Take a used truck, for instance – no two truckers will walk out of that dealership having paid the same purchase price and with the same financing terms. The better negotiator probably shaved hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars off the sticker price.

The same goes for other supplies. Chances are, you’re going to pay more for a product than the 200-truck fleet down the street. That’s just the way it goes, but it stings when your owner/operator buddy also paid less than you did because he’s a better negotiator. If you’re not a strong negotiator, fact is, you spend your entire life getting ripped off.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, since I’m in the market for a new car. After a recent trip to the dealership, I returned home and looked online to see the price I was initially quoted was well above the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP). Now, that particular visit was more of a fact-finding mission, and we never really got to haggling over price.

Still, it’s unfortunate the dealer had to over-inflate its asking price so it had enough wiggle room to come to terms with a strong negotiator. I wonder if some people actually walk out of there having agreed to the over-inflated sticker price?

The Internet has provided consumers with a wealth of information they can arm themselves with before making a significant purchase. With a little research, you can find the invoice price of a new car and there are Web sites that suggest simply tacking 3-5% onto the invoice price and making that your ‘final offer.’

It’s a strategy that can drive a car dealer mad, but there are some that will accept the slim margin to get the sale.

Of course, it’s not that simple when you’re thinking of buying a new or used truck. There are many more variables to consider when purchasing a truck – such as the many specifications available. Pricing out a truck is far more complex than looking up an invoice price and comparing prices online.

Still, before making a significant purchase, do your homework, equip yourself with as much knowledge as you can find and go in there with a plan.

It may not even be a bad idea to take a negotiating course if you’re responsible for equipment purchasing. I think I’ll take my own advice before heading back down to that car dealership.

– James Menzies can be reached by phone at (416) 510-6896 or by e-mail at

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