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Haggling with suppliers

Whether it's Morocco or Muswell Hill - give it a try

Visiting a wholesaler can be a bit like taking a trip to your local market – there are no guarantees on what is on offer, the onus is on you to determine the quality and there is, importantly, a little leeway on the quoted prices.

Wholesalers will not indulge in convoluted sales techniques, deals are done in the cut and thrust of the warehouse floor and it is important that you are switched on to ensure you get the right deal.

It's not quite the same as arguing over a rug with a moustachioed Moroccan street trader, but there is still a significant amount of haggling that can take place and you should use your ‘negotiating' techniques whenever possible.

Wholesalers are as competitive as any other businesses, so the opportunity to sell at a lower price, especially if you are purchasing a large amount of stock, is in their long-term interest.

Wholesalers love to do a deal, so if you approach them with the classic opening gambit, ‘If I buy three cases of this instead of two, will you knock the price down a bit for me?' you should be met by a favourable response.

In fact, it is possible to get the haggling in before you even turn up at your suppliers – if you telephone the wholesaler before your visit and list your requirements, you can often agree on a good price in advance.

Bear in mind, however, that stock does disappear quite quickly, so pick up your goods as soon as possible to avoid the despair of finding out your agreed deal has been sold on to someone else.

The amount you can save by haggling depends greatly on the supplier you are dealing with and if you approach them in the right way at the right time.

“How much you can save depends on several factors, such as the quantity you are buying, the popularity of the item and the actual cost to the wholesaler,” explains Richard Grady. “Personally, I have obtained discounts from between five and 20 per cent through haggling alone.”

In all other aspects of running your business, there are very few techniques you can employ to possibly shave nearly a quarter from your costs, so haggling can prove to be particularly vital in saving valuable funds for your firm. Try it – the worst the wholesaler can say is “no”.

It is possible to get the haggling in before you even turn up at your suppliers.


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