Wednesday, February 16, 2011

ERM-BC-COOP: Compensation


I went to the dentist the other day for a root canal and crown.

I asked how much this was going to cost and he replied $1,500.

"Maybe," I suggested, "we could negotiate the fee?"

His four-word reply: "Keep your mouth shut."

Later I visited my lawyer to see about a new will.

After the niceties, I asked how much I would be charged for her - and her staff's - effort.

$750 for a simple will I was told.

"Maybe," I suggested, "we could negotiate the fee?"

"Live long and prosper," she replied as she left the room.

The handyman was fixing a window. His quoted rate was $85.

"Maybe," I suggested, "we could negotiate the fee?"

"Of course," he said, "if you want to reinstall the window by yourself."

So why, someone please tell me, do people expect professional planners to "negotiate" our fees?

A "recruiter" called this morning and after attempting to massage my ego he asked what my rate would be for a specific job in a specific location. I told him. His immediate response was "Can we negotiate?"

He did not offer to tell me his client's compensation range.

I asked him if he would ask his surgeon to negotiate before he went under the knife.

My rates are justified by both the length and breadth of my experience. They also reflect the location, duration, and complexity of the work, be it staff or contract.

Employers need to learn that, as with almost everything else in life, "you get what you pay for." There's nothing wrong with a Smart car, but if you have to take the kids to a Little League practice, the two-seater is not going to suffice; a mini-van or full size van is in order. Granted, 33 city/41 highway is impressive, but hauling the team and its gear in the Smart car would mean making at least 10 trips making the gas mileage gain questionable.

As an aside: The Smart "passion cabriolet" shown above has a suggested list of $16,990 to which an $850 option package may be added (

Actually, if truth be known, I'm always ready to negotiate . . . upward.

Think about it the next time someone asks you to "negotiate." You should know what your work is work. Unless you are truly desperate, state your rate and stick to it.

It will help you and it will help the rest of us.

And "for the record," the "recruiter" never followed up with a promised full job description. I wonder why :-)

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