As an insurance agency owner or business owner, there are lots of services we need on a regular basis. Whether it is printing, website service, IT computer support, machine repairs or advertising help, the list and expenses can get cumbersome for a business owner. I have a good network of close business friends that do most every service I would ever need that I network with, Mastermind with and most importantly barter services with on a regular basis. To barter service is crucial to succeeding and keeping cost down in our business. Do you ever barter for your services?
The dictionary defines barter as verb– the action or system of exchanging goods or services for other goods or services without the use of money. This is more commonly known as “you scratch my back and I scratch yours.” We as a society have gotten away from this practice through the years as our economies have grown. I believe this practice of barter was lost for a time period, due to people just willing to pay instead of building those relationships. I believe it is a major contributor to the decline in customer service in the U.S. Large corporations swallowed small businesses and in the name of higher profit margins, automated or outsourced their own customer service. I am witnessing a shift in culture back to smaller businesses making a comeback for value over price with better customer service. With this change comes the opportunity to barter goods and services again.
You as a fellow business owner, insurance agent, realtor or sales person have skills and knowledge that have value to other business owners. Everyone knows something that another person needs and values. You need to use your skills and knowledge to help other business owners where they lack and trade that information for their goods and services that you need or lack. For example, I have a good friend that works on my computers. He shows me a lot of tips and tricks to keep my computers out of his shop, which saves me money. He needed my expertise on selling a new certain product and service, which I gladly helped him put together. He had knowledge I needed to learn and I had knowledge he needed to learn. Together we use bartering as a way to save money and help each other’s businesses succeed. It is imperative, in order to use a barter system, to build goodwill and trust with your network connections. Without a good credible core of business owners with services you know, like and trust, the barter system may not work effectively. Take the time to meet on a regular basis with your connections. Make the meetings effective by using planners to help one another with skills and knowledge. Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know. The written planners can help with that. Also be willing to open up your network to them for possible referral and referral sources to help strengthen your relationship. Remember that barter is a two way road, you cannot take more than you give and keep a healthy relationship with your network of connections. Bartering is not charity work, but a fine tuned system of “scratching each other’s backs.” Start today building and strengthening your network.
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Tim Wilhoit is owner/principal of Your Friend 4 Life Insurance Agency in Nashville, TN. He is a family man, father of 3, entrepreneur, insurance agent, life insurance broker, salesman, sales trainer, recruiter, public speaker, blogger and team leader with over 28 years of experience in sales and marketing in the insurance and beverage industries.