by Aaryn Lambert

    Save Cash and Attract More Customers with Barter

    In today’s marketplace, the slowing economy has had its effect on many small businesses. To survive and remain competitive, businesses need to think outside the box and consider leveraging barter as a marketing alternative to help lure new customers and save money.

    Businesses can now join a barter network to move excess inventory in exchange for goods and services. In a barter network, the trades aren’t usually direct—most businesses

    receive a barter credit for their goods or services sold to another member, which then gets banked into their barter account. Barter sales are recognized by the Canada Revenue Agency.
    Members also usually pay a monthly fee, then transaction fees, usually a percentage of the value of the deal.

    The types of services available through a barter network are diverse from restaurants, trades people to business services such as accountants and lawyers, and health professionals, such
    as opticians, dentists, and massage therapists.

    For a great number of companies, cash can generally be tight. Participation with a barter network helps to reduce the dependency on cash. When making purchases on barter, the business owner benefits by having the ability to buy items at their own cost of goods, versus the retail cash value. Pam McCarthy, Owner of Five Star Events, a Calgary-based event planning company, has used barter to purchase such things as web and graphic design, letterhead and business cards, and telemarketing services.

    “I have made some quality contacts, and have had the opportunity to utilize other member services that I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to purchase if I was paying cash. It’s a win-win situation for my business.”

    Kellie-Rae Mallette, president of Headquarters Management, a Calgary-based accounting firm, has used barter for home and office renovations, health-care, and car repairs. Mallette has also used barter to reward her staff by giving them a percentage of barter sales. The staff in turn then uses the barter to purchase restaurant, golf, or spa gift vouchers.

    Small companies may derive other benefits from barter, including exposure. Barter brokers are assigned to member accounts helping individual businesses promote their product and service offerings directly to the other members. For Mallette at Headquarters Management, one barter job can spark many referrals and ultimately more accounting business.

    “The people we’ve met through the barter network have become trusted alliances and they have also referred cash business to us. Our business has only benefited from being a member.”

    In these times when businesses are struggling, the barter network is a powerful tool that can help give you a competitive edge over your competition.

    For more information about how you can get started with barter, please visit www.exmerce.com.

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