Quid Pro Quo

Bartering is a cashless alternative to conducting business

Bartering -trading what you have for what you want without using money -is the world’s oldest form of commerce and dates back to when hunters first traded animal skins for flint spears. But today, bartering has become the modern way to trade for businesses, particularly for businesses with a surplus of inventory, unsold goods, and unused labor.

Despite this, many business owners lack sufficient information about this form of exchange. In business for 27 years, Perry Constantinides, president of Barter Systems Inc. in Kensington, Maryland, says, “Competition is intense and bartering offers businesses both financial and marketing benefits that can be used to their advantage.”

There are many benefits to bartering, such as conserving cash by receiving needed goods and services without monetary exchanges and the potential to increase market penetration in new areas while maintaining cash customers. According to the International Reciprocal Trade Association, an organization that represents the worldwide barter industry, companies still traded approximately $7.87 billion in goods and services in 2001.

Those interested in trading might want to consider joining a barter exchange group. Constantinides notes, “Joining a barter exchange group is similar to having one’s own outside sales person that works directly with you to bring your company business.”

When selecting a barter exchange group, Lowell Curtis, president of Barter Network Inc. in Springfield, Virginia, recommends that you:
Research your local area for exchange groups and compare their services, fees, and member business listings.
Determine what goods and services you need and if members of the exchange group can provide them to you.
Ensure that the exchange group is legitimate. It is also advised that the exchange group be affiliated with an association such as the IRTA.
Consult with current group members to see if they are satisfied with the services provided by their exchange group.

After 23 years in the industry, Curtis says the only way to learn the business of bartering is to jump right in. “Choosing a barter exchange group is like standing on the edge of a swimming pool and wondering how the water is going to feel.” He says that the only way to know if an exchange group is right for you is to simply join one and start buying and selling moderately. Curtis stresses, “Don’t be quick to jump in the deep end … start at the shallow end to test the water first.”

For further information, visit the IRTA at www.irta.com. Also, consider contacting a barter exchange group in your local area to find out how bartering can help your business reach new heights.

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