It is said that the two happiest times in a sailor's life are the day they buy a boat and the day they sell their boat. I have a third occasion which beats even these.
It is also said there are two types of sailors: those who like painting and those who like sailing. I fall into the latter category; maintenance is boring; sailing is fun.
Having owned my 21 foot daysailer from new for 12 years I reluctantly put in on the market. I say reluctantly because I loved my little boat but I had moved house and was getting less use of it.
After doing some research I established what was a "fair market price" and I put up a For Sale advert in the local harbour where the boat sat on a pontoon mooring. Within 24 hours the phone rang and a man, let's call him Larry, said he was interested and proceeded to try to haggle the price down.
Now the difference between Larry and me was not that I am a professional negotiator and he is not; it was because there was asymmetric information. I knew more than he did.
First I pointed out to him the comparable prices of identical boats just 150 miles away in the English Lake District but more importantly I told him that although I was selling the boat, the pontoon mooring was not mine to sell. The harbour is owned by a local Trust, and only the 65 Trustees have berthing rights. I am a trustee. Furthermore there is an extensive waiting list for moorings as there are no other all-tides harbours with pontoon within 30 miles.
So I made him a proposal: He could buy a partnership in the boat from me at the asking price less £1; he would pay all the running costs and do all the maintenance; and allow me to sail the boat any time I wanted. In return I would continue my membership of the Harbour Trust and so keep my mooring rights. An agreement was made on those terms.
He is happy because he has a good boat at a fair price - and the pontoon mooring. I am happy because I get to sail whenever I want without having to do the "painting".
The negotiating lessons are: do your homework; make realistic proposals; and value your concessions in the other party's terms.
About the author:
After graduation I worked as an industrial sales engineer. This job involved both management/union negotiating and negotiating large commercial contracts. Inspired by a study of union negotiating, and using my own personal experience, I created what was to be the UK’s first course teaching the skills of negotiation, as opposed to the theory.