What you really want when negotiating for services is for the good top-notch guy to give you his best price first, without any overcharging, according to Lynnette Hartwig in her book Negotiating When Money Matters: Getting Good Deals. The book provides an extensive array of tips and techniques for obtaining quotes, negotiating arrangements, supervising works, and getting follow-up and warranty service in order to obtain the most favourable outcomes.
Before reading the book I would have said that negotiating a good deal is mostly about getting a few quotes, trying to identify and select an honest contractor, and then closing your eyes and hoping for a good outcome. That is completely the wrong approach, according to the author. What you really need to do to get the best deals includes:
There are plenty more pieces of advice and stories in the book which, although it concentrates primarily on home construction and maintenance-type contracts, is relevant to many other types of negotiations. It took me quite a while to work through the whole book, but in my opinion it contains many valuable lessons for anyone who would like to achieve a better outcome when next engaging a tradesman.