Using Trade to Survive in a Bad Economy

Posted on January 8, 2010 by - Also by this author

We are fortunate to have a product that is widely sought after. Whether it is a 55- passenger coach or a super-stretch limousine, many of our vendors would love the opportunity to engage our services without having to pay cash. Any time you have an opportunity to trade advertising, oil changes, fuel, or any other product or service, take advantage of it. Trade at the highest retail price you offer and realize huge savings.

Let's say you charter at $80 per hour. Your actual cash costs are labor and fuel, which comes out to a conservative estimate of $20 per hour. This means you enjoy $60 of value for every $20 you spend in cash or three times the value.

Here are five tips to help you save cash:

Tip 1: Advertising to sponsorship of events using "in-kind" donations such as gift certificates. Print media, brochures, business cards, and print advertising are all just examples of advertising trades. Instead of paying $1,000 for a sponsorship, offer $1,000 in service and receive the same promotional exposure as the company that wrote a check. 

Tip 2: Barter systems such as ITEX, Barter Exchange Network, and other barter systems allow you to swap services among a directory of members enabling you to procure goods and services with participating members by providing your services to them. If you give service valued at $500 to a member, the member writes you a "barter check" that you deposit into your barter account. You may now use that same $500 to procure services from another member up to $500. Other barter service Web sites include: Barter Systems Inc. and IMS Barter Network.

Tip 3: Professional services such as attorneys and accountants enjoy the use of a limousine or may need a bus for a company party. With hourly fees of attorneys and accountants being about the same as livery transportation, pay a fraction of the cost by suggesting a trade of services. 

Tip 4: Vehicle services such as oil changes, car washes, repairs, detailing, and even towing can be traded. You might be able to trade with a business that performs these services or even private individuals willing to hand wax your vehicle for the cost of a ride. A hand wax on a limousine can cost nearly $300, but if you trade for five hours on the town, you can cut your cost in half. You might find a tow truck company willing to set up an account that the owner will use only when trade is available or you can provide service upfront and have a credit "just in case."

Tip 5: Technology vendors such as copier repair people, computer network service, two-way radio, and telephone system providers are all good candidates for trade. The next time you get a quote for any of these services, be sure to ask if the vendor is interested in doing the job on trade or a portion of it. You can save hundreds of dollars on office expenses through trade agreements.  

LCT contributing editor Jim Luff is an operator from Bakersfield, CA who began his career in the industry as a private chauffeur in 1990. In 1993 he joined Limousine Scene as the general manager and later became a partner. LCT recognized Jim as an Operator of the Year in 2001. Email any questions to him at Jim@LCTMag.com.

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