Most folks in the barter world trade the entire cost of a product or service, including the cost of materials used in the production of the product/service. Common examples of this would be the cost of goods sold for a bartering retailer, food cost for a restaurant, or labor cost for employees when a service is rendered. That being said, there are a few industries that often charge cash for materials and only barter their labor. Common examples of this would be contractors like painters or carpet layers. They often want cash for paint or carpet. Another example would be auto mechanics that barter for their labor but charge cash for parts.
So….what is one to do if they have much to barter and little to no cash? How can you put together a trade in these industries that covers the materials? Here are a couple angles that I’ve used successfully in the past.
Many industries have been trained by their barter exchanges to charge cash for materials. In those cases you will pretty much never find someone who will conduct a 100% barter deal so don’t waste your time looking within the exchange. Go strait to the barter section of CraigsList.org and make sure that you state in your post that you are looking for a trade that will include materials. You can offer to exchange any products/services available in your barter exchange to the seller for their services including material costs.
Trade with your existing clients
I recently was looking for someone who would paint the interior of my home and include the paint in the trade. It turns out that painters are very used to barter, but rarely include paint in their deals. After looking unsuccessfully for quite a while I remembered that one of my existing clients that I hadn’t worked with in a while is a painter. I called them up and they agreed to do the job 100% on trade. Normally they would not have accepted an offer like this but because we already had a relationship in place they were more open to it. It appears that the trade will revitalize our relationship and we should do more cash work down the road too.
Buy your own materials
A friend of mine is convinced that it is cheaper for him to go buy his own car parts when he needs a repair than buying the parts directly from the mechanic. Personally I don’t do this. Aside from unsettling his relationship with his mechanic, he has also sometimes purchased the wrong parts.
As usual, please post back other ideas that you’ve used to conduct trades that include materials.