How to reignite a client with barter

I supposed every established business has them.  Lost sheep.  Good loyal cash clients from the past that have wandered away.  It’s not that they hired someone else to work with them.  They’ve simply been short on time, money or both.  It’s been years since you’ve worked with them and even though you’ve checked in with them every once in a while, it doesn’t seem likely that you’ll be working for them again anytime soon.

Take heart!  The solution is barter.  Although I would normally not recommend to switch a cash client over to barter, in extreme situations when it looks like you’ve lost a good cash client you should give barter a try.  I specifically recommend offering to work on a specific project for them on barter with the intent of reintroducing your services and moving them back to cash after the project is complete.  I’ve done this twice recently and this is how it worked:

1)  Many years ago I built a site for a good local painter.  A lot of time had passed and their site really needed an upgrade but it just wasn’t a priority for them.  When my wife and I decided we wanted to paint our house, we gave this client a call.  They were happy to do the painting for us in trade for credit to work on their website.

2)  My very first web client 17 years ago is a used office furniture dealer.  Much like the painter, they needed work on their website but it wasn’t important enough to them to get the ball rolling.  A barter client of mine mentioned they needed some furniture for their new office.  When I gave my old furniture clients a call they said they would be happy to provide whatever future is needed in trade for my web services.

Although I would advise caution when considering bartering with a cash client, I have to say that I don’t at all feel like I’ve lost any cash business with these deals.  They hadn’t done any cash business with me for years.  I had nothing to lose.  Plus I think there is a very real chance that when they have new work done and have spent all the barter credit they have with me, that they will go back to cash.  It’s been long enough that they don’t remember the value of my services.  Once they are reminded through our one-time barter deal they could loosen their cash purse strings.

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