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The Benefits of Barter

(October 2010) posted on Thu Oct 07, 2010

With the recovery still going at a snail’s pace, it may not be a bad time to think about the advantages of barter for your business.


By Craig Miller

The second type of trade is through a barter club or exchange. These are essentially commercial organizations that provide a mechanism for indirect trade. The key instrument is a token economy, which uses a currency of trade dollars exclusive to the exchange. You can sell to another member of the exchange for credits in this currency rather than dollars. These credits accrue in your account and can be used to buy from others in the exchange without ever engaging in a straight trade. The exchange manages all records and provides regular statements. The owners of the exchange make their money by charging a commission on each transaction.

Fortunately, wide-format digital printing is an ideal medium for barter. Almost every business needs what we make, so it isn’t too hard to find someone who is willing to trade. In fact, I’ve found that the offer to trade goods and services opens doors and can lead to a long-term paid relationship. Some excellent opportunities include improvements to your building, mechanical work on your company vehicles, office supplies, janitorial services, and even used equipment.

Our goods and services can be broken down into increments, so the value of what we offer has excellent variability. And some of what we do has significant profit margins, which give us the opportunity to receive excellent value in our trades. We also offer services like design and installation, where no material expense is involved. Often, you can work in the service during a slow time so that you’re getting value from workers who otherwise would be idle.

Bartering can also help with excess inventory or underutilized production capacity. The nice thing about targeting surplus materials for barter is that they probably are already paid for. And, as I indicated earlier, it can be a way of getting value from equipment and facility overhead and production workers when you don’t have enough to do.


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