Friday 6 June 2014

Mum's the Word - Part 1

My mum asked me if I could help her buy a new car the other day, to which I agreed. I would like to think this was down to the fact that my background is in procurement. In part, this was true. She admitted that it was the face to face negotiation with the dealer that she really wanted my help on. Although she bought her last car by herself and has been very pleased with the purchase, the actual exchange of information and possible deals left her feeling a little confused. It was fast paced with lots of options and figures changing on the basis of comments.

I am sure we’ve all been in a situation where we’ve struggled to articulate the information presented and then feel pressured to make decisions which, upon reflection, may not have been the best choice.

So being the good son I am, I agreed. “Nothing fancy,” she said; something reliable, cheap to run, a big enough boot and one of ‘map thingies’ on the dashboard.

I then asked a series of further of questions; what is the budget, will you want to part exchange your current car, any other preferences - air con perhaps, colour, new or used? After quite a bit of mulling over, tea and biscuits, I had established the broad specification requirements, budget and the absolute musts (the ‘map thingy’ being one of them).

It was clear that the exciting cars I had originally put forward were a little ambitious, and we very quickly whittled down the list to the very familiar small cars on the market. Ultimately however, the brand and make she currently has was the one she wanted to continue with.

Sound familiar?

I could understand the reasons for her preference though; the car was reliable, did the job, the customer service was good and so she felt comfortable dealing with the garage.

Although I was buying a car for my mum, the process and steps were very much the same as I took when my job was in procurement. I had established a specification with must haves and nice-to-haves. I had gathered feedback on the current vendors performance (I admit rather crudely in this case); what was good about them, what could be better. The budget had been established. Importantly as well, there was trust between the buyer and the key stakeholder. I had listened and encouraged feedback so I had as much information as possible to go forward with to the next stage – engaging the market.

How do you establish requirements and trust with your stakeholders? Do you try and enforce particular methodologies or processes?

Part 2 of this blog will be about the interesting encounter with the seller at the dealership, which again I am sure you will be able to relate to. Stay tuned as I’ll be discussing potential hazards with taking key stakeholders into negotiations, or whether it is perhaps better not to involve them at all. 

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