I shouldn’t brag, but I’m the master of The Deal. You know it’s true because I treat The Deal like a proper noun, like “McDonald’s” or “Sad!”
What makes me such a deal making genius is my cunning ability to always come out on top. For example, a local sporting goods store was having a sale on 12′ trampolines–only $250. My daughter’s birthday was coming up, and I knew she’d like a 12′ trampoline. We went to the store together, and we left with a 14′ trampoline that wasn’t on sale for $350. Take that, sporting goods store!
But that was years ago. She’s outgrown her trampoline. Now it’s just 200 square feet of unusable space in my backyard. Nonetheless, it is hers. Kids don’t have much in the way of assets.
Last week I walked past a neighbor’s house and noticed their preschooler bouncing on a mini-trampoline. I introduced myself to the boy’s mother, who watched from the garage. “Your son seems to really like that little trampoline. My daughter has a full-sized one that she doesn’t use anymore. She might be interested in selling it.”
“Oh, great,” the mother said. “Let me get your phone number and I’ll call you later.”
The next day I received a text: “Can we come over this afternoon and look at your trampoline?”
“Sure,” I typed, and then I ran outside to sweep the leaves and debris off of it. I noticed that the foam mat covering the springs had grown brittle over the years, so I looked up the cost of replacements. When you’re a master of The Deal you need to know these things. I also reviewed prices on used and new trampolines. Come and get me, suckers! You’re dealing with a pro!
My daughter arrived home with her boyfriend. “I think I have a buyer for your trampoline,” I said. “They’ll be here at six. Will you please go hit it with the hose and knock the dirt off of it?”
“Sure,” she said, and she and her boyfriend disappeared to watch a movie. At 5:00 I went outside and scrubbed the trampoline down myself, hoping that it would dry before the buyers arrived. Deal maker!
Six o’clock came and went. I sat. I waited. I dillied and then I dallied. Eventually a text arrived: “Can’t make it tonight. Maybe tomorrow?”
“Sure,” I wrote. You can’t pull too hard when the fish is fighting or you might break the line. That’s some free advice for you regarding The Deal.
It rained the next day, but the family dropped by anyway. The husband didn’t want a trampoline, but he reluctantly agreed to look. Their two kids vibrated with excitement. Trampoline! Hooray! Play to the kids, not the reluctant dad. There’s some more advice on The Deal for you.
“He’s afraid it’s too big for our yard,” the wife said. “Can we measure it?”
“Sure,” I said. “Did you bring a tape?”
“I’ll run and grab one,” I said. See, if you want to close The Deal you have to be willing to go that extra mile.
I returned with a measuring tape, and the little family realized that in order to stretch the tape measure someone was either going to have to crawl through the wet grass under the trampoline or crawl over the wet surface of the trampoline. This they were not willing to do. “Tell you what, I’ll crawl across the wet trampoline,” I said. “No, no, it’s no problem.” This last part wasn’t necessary given that no one protested, but when you’re a master of The Deal you know when to highlight the level of service you’re providing. With measurements done, the little family left to think about it, and that was that.
The next day another text arrived: “Good news! We’ve decided to take the trampoline!”
“That’s great news,” I replied. “But we haven’t talked about a price. Did you assume we were giving it to you?”
“We’re not really in the market for a trampoline,” the mother replied.
Now here is where you want to listen closely, because this is black belt level deal making. Knowing that her kids really wanted it, my daughter wanted cash for her property, and I wanted it out of my yard, I kicked the negotiations into high gear. “You take the trampoline, I’ll pay my daughter, everybody wins,” I wrote.
“We’ll think about it.”
I’m still waiting to hear back on whether I’ll have the privilege of buying my neighbors the trampoline that I bought for my daughter. I might have to throw in a scooter or two, but that’s just how it is when you’re the master of The Deal.