With the economy in its current state, you might think eating out would be off the table for many small business owners. Conversely, you might think a restaurant’s plans to upgrade systems, replace carpeting or embark on a billboard advertising campaign might have to be put on hold just to keep up with necessary services like pest control. To meet the needs of both the small business owner and restaurants, New England Trade, a bartering organization serving Massachusetts businesses for the past three decades, has set up a special restaurant division.
“We have a large number of restaurants as members. These members put up gift certificates to their establishments in exchange for the services they need to run their organizations, things like upkeep of their facility, pest control, new menus, advertising, etc. We also have members who like to use their barter dollars on restaurant gift certificates to use for themselves or incentive programs for their staff or customers. The new restaurant division helps pair the members from both sides of the equation,” said Ken Meharg, CEO of New England Trade.
The practice of bartering has been around since the days of the caveman (e.g. a plumber does some work for a CPA, who in turn does the plumber’s taxes). In a bartering organization, members have access to the products and services of all the members. So, the plumber can do work for the CPA on barter, but can then choose to “spend” the bartering dollars he’s accrued on another product or service offered by other members. Like use of an ocean-side condo for a week.
There is some exchange of cash involved with barter. A 7.5 percent transaction fee goes to the bartering organization and members are responsible for paying taxes on the “barter dollars they earn. Still, for the most part, a bartering organization makes a meal out possible for many small business owners without dramatically impacting their cash flow.
For the restaurant owner, barter provides a tremendous means to attracting new business for a relatively small investment. An example of this is the New England Trade member and restaurant owner who offered $20,000 in gift cards. While those cards represent $20,000 to fellow members, the actual cost to the restaurant owner is much less. After all, the restaurant owner is probably ordering the same amount of food and beverage and keeping the same amount of staff on regardless of the gift certificates.
The bottom line in this example is that the restaurant owner was able to purchase $20,000 in billboard advertising space while attracting $20,000 worth of potential new business without spending much more than usual.
“In today’s economy, the biggest problem restaurants are facing is empty seats. By trading gift certificates for barter dollars, restaurant owners can bring in new customers, who, if they enjoy their experience, could become repeat, cash-paying customers. Short of word-of-mouth referrals, there’s really no more cost-effective way to attract new business,” said Meharg.
For more information on New England Trade, please visit www.newenglandtrade.com.
Trading up in New England
Since, 1980, New England Trade has helped thousands of businesses gain a competitive edge by expanding their revenue and reach with barter. Restaurants, auto services, travel, retail stores, and professional business services such as accounting, legal and advertising/marketing are a sampling of the numerous clients who do business with New England Trade and each other. Maintaining offices at 926 Eastern Avenue in Malden, Mass., as well as 100 West Main Street in Hyannis for its Cape Cod branch (www.CapeCodTrade.com), New England Trade has become the largest barter organization in New England. The company is a founding member of the National Association of Trade Exchanges and a member of the International Reciprocal Trade Association, New England Trade manages more than $5-million in sales annually and has a staff of 10 people. New England Trade is operated by experienced, Certified Trade Brokers who know how to make barter work for business. The company is a long-standing member of the Malden Chamber of Commerce.
For additional information about New England Trade, please visit http://www.NewEnglandTrade.com or call 781-388-9200.