How Independent Contractors Can Negotiate Like Pros

Independent contractors may feel that they do not have much negotiating power. They are told what the hourly rate is and the number of hours expected and they feel that there is not much, if anything, to negotiate. They also have the notion that if they don’t agree to the terms, someone else will and they will lose the business. Nevertheless, I believe that everything is negotiable. Here are some tips to consider when trying to negotiate the best deal for your independent contractor assignment.

Everything is Negotiable.

Although at first glance it may look as though you do not have much leverage in negotiating; look again. Although it is understandable that each company has its own rates or standards and is reluctant to make changes to those rates, try to determine what can be negotiated before you accept an assignment.

A. Hourly rate.

Even if you feel that the hourly rate is not negotiable, you should still review it. If you have many years of experience, are certified and highly regarded, then maybe it is time to ask for an increase in your hourly rate. You might also try to get a set rate for the job rather than an hourly rate. However, even if you are content to stay with the offered hourly rate, be on the lookout for other things that can be negotiated.

B. Meals.

We know that many companies don’t want you to eat on the job and it is their philosophy that clients should not see their contractors eating. However, some companies give a per diem rate for meals based on the hours the contractor has worked. Even if you don’t meet that threshold, you might want to ask for payment or reimbursement for meals, if you are working during a mealtime period.

C. Bonus.

If you get a call at the last minute to do a job, ask for a bonus or plum assignment in the future in order to accept the assignment. ” I will make some phone calls and change my plans, but I expect an extra $50 bonus” or ” I will take this gig, but the next time you have a plum assignment, I expect you to call me.”

D. Assignments.

You know which assignments you really love and those that are drudgery. Try to figure out how to get those assignments that you really like. You have to pay your dues, but be so good all assignments that you will be the one they call.

E. Phone calls or out-of-pocket expenses.

Since any monies paid out of pocket are money taken away from your paycheck, see if you can get these costs reimbursed. If you are expected to use your cell phone, you should be reimbursed.

G. Heavy Lifting.

Find out in advance whether there is heavy lifting or some other requirement that you might not find out about until the day of the assignment. I found out the hard way when I ended up carrying a very heavy and cumbersome box. If you have a bad back or don’t want to injure your good back, you need to know the requirements of the assignment beforehand so you can decline or accept. If you do accept, ask for a bonus.

H. Hours of Work.

Some people like to work those early shifts and some people are night owls. If you dread those early assignments or don’t like to drive late at night, ask for what you want. If you continually take on those unwanted assignments, let it be known that you expect something in return later on.

I. Convenience.

Factor in convenience before accepting an assignment. Sometimes there is an assignment closer to your home that will save you commuting time. You may be willing to take a lower rate because you are close to home. On the flip side, if you are taking an assignment far away, especially at the last minute, ask for a bonus for gas money.

As you start thinking about what can be negotiated, the list is endless. You will soon be Negotiating Like A Pro.