Using Trade to Survive in a Bad Economy

Posted on December 1, 2009

Welcome to the first edition of Transpo 101. I am an operator in Bakersfi eld, CA celebrating our 20th year of service. Operating limos, sedans, and buses in a city of 800,000 people has exposed me to the corporate, retail, and charter bus markets. I have learned many things in my career that I hope to share with you in each issue of LCT Magazine. I have experienced what works, what doesn’t, and how to grow your company through nurturing, marketing, and plenty of blood, sweat, and tears. Each issue will feature practical advice, ideas, promotions, and operation standards that will prepare you and help you grow and develop your business. Your ideas, questions, and comments are always welcome.

Preserve Your Cash Through Trade and Donations of Service

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. Anytime 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 some ideas to help you save cash:

ADVERTISING IS THE most common service to trade and includes a wide format from radio advertising to sponsorship of events using “in-kind” donations such as gift certifi cates. 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.

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.

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.

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 fi ve hours on the town, you can cut your cost in half. You might fi nd 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."

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 offi ce expenses through trade agreements.

Barter Service Web sites:

Barter Systems Inc.
IMS Barter Network

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