Does Barter Work? How I Made it Pay Better Than Cash

by Dave Miller

Two large maple trees loom over our house gracing our front yard. Sadly the one seems to have some disease and is dying. If we need to remove it, it would leave a gaping hole. It’s tough to think about removing a beautiful tree like this, planted by my father 43 years ago. It’s so large and graceful.

So I called in a tree doctor to analyze and diagnosis. His prognosis was that there is a 25% chance of saving it. That’s not what I wanted to hear.

He tells me they can trim the tree to maximize its chances. Looking at this tree and our 4 other maple trees in need of trimming, he proposes the cost to be $1900. Even though I really like my trees, that’s a lot of money.

So I called “Mr. Mow It All”. Yeah, that’s his company name. Two young men, clean cut and buff, survey the task. They leave a proposal for $1200 with my wife. We are heading in the right direction but I still cringe at parting with $1200.

My wife says it’s barter time.

To barter is to exchange goods or services directly without money or another medium of exchange.

When Sage from Mr. Mow It All calls me, he is professional yet eager for the work. We talk about the barter option. He wants to grow his business so we discuss ways I could help him by working as a consultant. Sage was reluctant to barter all his services for strictly my services. I can’t say I blame him. So we negotiate – 50% cash and 50% consulting in exchange for tree trimming.

My goal, which I think is attainable, is to provide him a service that will far exceed the cash value. To pay him in a way that continues to return profits for years to come. Sage made a remark that is true in bartering, he said “I feel like you are trying to give me something in return rather than just getting me to work for less”. That comment is the essence of bartering. Both parties get more.

A few months back Matt from J M Lapp, LLC asked me to do some consulting and writing for him. He was attempting to get his Master Plumber license in Lancaster City, a tough job. So we bartered my writing and consulting skills for his plumbing skills. We put together a presentation for the board, asking them to waive the apprentice requirement and allow Matt to take the test.

A few months later I received a phone call from a proud jubilant Matt proclaiming his success. He is a Master Plumber. He didn’t even need to take the test.

After he got his master plumber license I was working on a project in Lancaster City. The property manager’s plumber was not available. I asked if he is looking for another plumber. He said he is that it’s always good to have options. So I recommended Matt to the largest property manager in Lancaster City. I hope they partner in the years to come.

In barter cases both parties feel as if they received more. If your client feels as if he received more than he bargained for, he will more likely refer new clients to you.

Put together a barter list to help you negotiate when the time is right. List items or services you have available. This will assist you when the opportunity arises.


I recommend the skills and knowledge of these people:

Mr. Mow It All 717-598-9478, Tree Service, Lawn Care, Landscaping, Trash Removal, Snow Removal.

J M Lapp LLC 717-405-5718, Plumbing and drain cleaning, Heating and air conditioning, Water softeners and water treatment systems



Published in: on July 5, 2011 at 6:25 am  Comments (1)  
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  1. […] Related posts: Does Barter Work? How I made it pay better than cash. […]

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