18 Jul

Don’t demand your rights when you barter

Posted in Ethics, Training by

Angry Brunette Through A Fisheye Lens

That sounds strange doesn’t it?  Why would I encourage you not to demand your rights?  This is America!  The land of rights and liberties!  Here’s where I am coming from:  Your goal with barter partners is to establish and maintain life-long relationships.  Generally speaking digging in your heals and demanding your rights is not a good way to encourage that.  I want to be my barter partner’s favorite business person.  Sometimes…that means overlooking where they may have fallen short of my expectations.  Don’t get me wrong here…I’m not advocating that you let yourself be used as a doormat.  What I’m saying is that I try to give my barter partners a little extra leeway with how they provide their services.  In the long run you more than make up for it simply because you are bartering with them instead of paying cash.  That being said, if you just plain get a bad deal, you can’t ignore that.  If a serious problem crops up talk to your barter partner and if you can’t work it out take it to your barter exchange (if you used one).  Your last resort is court, but I have to tell you that my experience has been that even when you win in court you lose when you consider your time and the chance that you won’t even collect what was awarded.  It’s much better to be a little flexible and get most of what you want than to fight tooth and nail for every scrap you deserve and ruin a relationship forever.


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20 May

The power of a letter or reference

Posted in Uncategorized by


You know how EBay users can rate each other?  Folks can post notes about their experience doing business with you.  As a buyer when I see that 300 people have posted back feedback 99% of which was positive it greatly lowers my perceived risk in making a purchase.  I have never seen the equivalent in a barter situation, but I have started doing something that is almost as good:  Letters of Reference

In past years I’ve had a tough time bartering within a specific industry.  People just weren’t used to the concept and it made them nervous.  I finally broke in and made a couple good trades with some businesses within that industry but didn’t have luck with some specific players that I was originally interested in working with.  A year later I went back to my successful trade partners and asked for letters of reference.  Armed with those letters I went back to the original businesses that turned me down and low-and-behold….it worked!!  With one business in particular that turned me down flat a year earlier, with the help of my new letters I got a enthusiastic “yes” to my request to barter.

Helpful hints for letters of reference:

  1. You need to help your happy customers write letters of reference.   As happy as they are and as much as you believe them when they say they’ll write a letter for you, very few of them will actually follow through.  It’s nothing personal; they are busy running their own business.  So when I say that you will need to “help” them, what I really mean is that you will have to write it for them.  What I’ve done in the past is contact the happy client and ask them if it would be OK for me to write a rough draft of a reference letter for them, that they can then check and edit however they want.  They have always agreed and have pretty much always approved what I write w/o change.
  2. Within the letter, try to get across the message that the client was happy with the transaction and that it was a pleasant and profitable experience.   Put yourself in the shoes of a nervous prospective barter partner and include what you think they would want to hear to calm their fears.  Of course it goes without saying that anything in your letters should be 100% truthful.

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30 Nov

Barter and fundraising for non-profits

Posted in Training by

I recently had a great experience doing some fundraising for my kid’s school that I wanted to share.  The school is putting together gift baskets that they are going to give away as prizes in a raffle.  I started calling my barter contacts to purchase items for the gift baskets.  I’d call and say something like: “I’d like to buy a gift certificate on barter for a school fund-raiser.”  The results were fantastic!  Not only did I get quite a few great items, but I also had folks offer to just donate the items outright.  I have to be honest;  as a small business person I don’t feel comfortable calling other small businesses and asking for donations.  To call and ask to purchase something and be offered a donation is tremendous.  If you have some credit in your barter account that you don’t already have earmarked, considering using it to help a non-profit this holiday season.

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