Eye OverHeard On The Forums: Should You Barter?

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Bet that title got to you! Lens-Chic, we’re stealing your lines!

Way back in 2009 we did a post on Bartering for Services, the subject came up again on OD’s of Facebook. Mona Dewart had some great things to say and she has allowed us to repost some of her comments, why and how she uses bartering.

Mona Dewart

  • No problem. I’m a big believer in barter. I have enjoyed meeting other members of our exchange. I usually can find someone in the exchange when I need a service. I feel better trusting someone in the exchange than just going to the phonebook (yes, I’m old enough to still use the phonebook) or online. In our exchange, you have complete control over how much you barter. As optometrists we do have significant material costs involved so I try to trade based on what I want to spend. As a result, I’m often on hold because lots of people want to get their eyecare and specs on trade. I offer no discounts to trade patients as we have the commission to pay from our profits. In our exchange, we pay a 7% commission on the sale and 7% when we spend the trade dollars for a 14% commision overall. Many of my insurance plans like VSP and Eyemed reduce reimbursement more than this. I do not trade contact lens materials due to the low mark up. In our exchange, you can pick and choose what you trade, as long as it is published. I’ve been a member of Ameritrade for over 10 years.
  • Most of the members of our exchange are small business owners who do not have vision insurance so I can always trade as much as I want. Third party barter exchanges issue a 1099B annually and the barter dollars earned are taxed just like cash dollars.Mona Dewart I belong to a third party barter exchange. In this type of organization, you do not have to directly trade one-to-one. I may sell specs to a realtor and use those trade dollars for my lawn service. The owner of the exchange charges a percentage on each buy and sell transaction. The transaction fees are less than my usual insurance write off and the patient is charged our full usual and customary fee.
  • I’ve bartered for painting, driveway sealing, lawn service, tree removal, computer IT services, HVAC services and interior design service on the business side and facials, hair cuts, massages, car repair, restaurant meals and many other items on the personal side.
  • I even gave my staff a portion of their raise this year in trade dollars as I can always earn more than I can spend. I’d encourage anyone with unfilled patient slots to look for a barter exchange in your area to fill a few of those slots and meet other small business owners.

Mona Dewart I do straight barter also but I don’t always want to barter with people who want to barter with me or it will be a situation where they want $1000 in goods and services from me and I can use $200 from them. The thrid party barter exchange simply adds possibilities for barter. I consider my trade fees to be advertising costs just like insurance write offs are the trade off for being on an insurance panel that markets your practice to the enrollees.

Mona Dewart I belong to an Ameritrade chapter. Their website gives specifics as to their exchanges but also has a nice recap to explain the benefits of a barter exchange. The main site is http://barterforbusiness.us/

Had a question of staff being accepting of trade dollars as part of their raises. I have done this with my small staff for about 6 years. I began doing this when cash was tight and there would have been no raises otherwise. Now I do it more as a bonus on top of small raises. Right or wrong, we all think of our trade dollars as a bonus.

You can justify that massage on trade where you might not spend dollars. Both of my current staff members are having significant car repairs made on trade this week. Both are thrilled not to have to put the charges on a credit card or write a check. They have their own subaccounts that they can spend as they wish. I pay all commission on thier trade dollars. It’s not as easy to spend trade dollars as cash but trade dollars are a whole lot better than nothing.

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