Ask a House Cleaner, Barter, Savvy Cleaner

Barter – The #5 Rules of Barter for House Cleaners

Barter, trade, and swap are all terms we’ve heard but have you ever thought of barter as an option to grow your business? Today on Ask a House Cleaner we look at the art of barter. Swapping and trade are a great way to fill cancellation slots from cleaning clients.

The House Cleaning Guru, Angela Brown shows us the difference between direct trades and reciprocal trades. And she’ll tell you how to get barter vouchers when you don’t need the product or service being swapped.

If your business needs a jolt of creativity, consider swapping house cleaning for web design. Or search engine optimization or the creation of a logo, or so many other business things. Learn how to grow your cleaning business with promotions from barter script.

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Listen: Should House Cleaners Barter, Trade or Swap?

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Watch: Should House Cleaners Barter, Trade or Swap?

Hey there, I’m Angela Brown, and this is Ask a House Cleaner. This is a show where you get to ask a house cleaning question, and I get to help you find an answer.

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Question: Should I Barter for Massage Therapy?


Massage Therapist barter, swap, trade for house cleaningOkay, so today’s question comes from a house cleaner who has been contacted by a massage therapist.

And the massage therapist would like to trade massage therapy in exchange for house cleaning.

Now, when you trade something back and forth like that. There’s a term called Barter. It’s also known as swapping or trading.  So, a direct trade is where you swap services like house cleaning directly with the massage therapist in exchange for massage therapy, and no money changes hands.

Her question is “Should I barter? Is this a good way to do business?”

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Answer: Barter Is A Great Idea if You Follow These Tips

Well, it’s a great question because it can be a great way to do business if it works for you.

So, what it comes down to is there are two ways to do barter.

2 ways to barter

One is a direct trade and the other is a reciprocal trade. 

The direct trade is like what I just explained where you have something and another person has something else and you swap between yourselves. No money exchanges hands.

But, what if you don’t need what they have? So, let’s say that this house cleaner didn’t need or didn’t want massage therapy? That’s not a good trade for her. Because that’s not something she’s going to use.

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The Five Rules of Barter

So, if you’re going to do a barter deal, or you’re going to trade or exchange products and services, there are five rules of bartering that you need to know:

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Rule 1: Barter For Services You Need

barter for services you need, house cleaning vs. search engine optimizationDo you need what that person has in exchange for trade?

Because if you don’t need it it’s not a good deal for you.

(This applies to direct trades. If you are doing a reciprocal trade through an exchange, it doesn’t matter if you need the item or not. We’ll cover that in a minute.)

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Rule 2: Is The Barter Deal a Fair Trade?

Let’s say that you are going to charge $300 for house cleaning. And the massage therapist charges $50 per session.

barter deal, fair trade to both parties

So, you’re not going to give a $300 house cleaning in exchange for a $50 massage. Right? That’s not a fair trade.

So, you want to make sure that it’s a fair trade for both parties involved.

Now, here’s what you can do if you decide that you want to do a direct trade with the massage therapist. The massage therapist can make you some vouchers.

So instead of you giving a $300 house cleaning in exchange for a $50 therapy session, what you get is six vouchers at $50. This is a fair trade.

So, now you have a whole collection that you can then give away as gifts for Mother’s Day, or Birthdays or employee incentives for example.

Or let’s say that you were going to pick up some new business, you could say “Anybody who joins and signs up as a regular client for six months, I will give you a free massage.”

So, you can use it as a tax deduction if you are using it for marketing purposes. So, if it’s not a fair trade make sure that you figure out a way to make it fair.

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Barter Rule 3: Cohesive or Correct Timing

Timing a barter deal is everything. If it’s the right product, at the right time, then you’re the right person. (Again this applies to direct trades.)

barter needs to be Correct Timing for Trade To WorkFor example, there is a girl in our network who did a direct trade with someone for house cleaning, she gave them house cleaning and they gave her a lawn mower in exchange.

The lawn mower had some value to it because it was slightly used. But the house cleaner lived in an apartment. She didn’t even mow her own yard.

And so, the timing on that was wrong, because had she been a homeowner, (and if she needed a lawnmower,) that would have been an excellent trade.

But in order to get her money she had to take the lawn mower to a buy and swap website to sell that lawnmower to get the money back that she should have just gotten in the first place for house cleaning.

The timing for this deal was off.

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Barter Rule 4: You Have to  Pay Taxes on Earned Income

Barter, swap and trade still require you to pay taxesBack in the 1970s, the IRS legalized barter as a regular form of exchanging goods and services.

But they stepped in and they said “We have rules. We still want to be paid. If you gain x amount of dollars from a particular service that you provided, we want to know about it and we want our money.”

So, it’s not an under the table deal.

You still have to pay taxes on it.

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Barter Rule 5: You Must Keep Excellent Records

Barter, swap and trade require you to keep excellent recordsIt’s not optional.

Because if you’re giving something in exchange for something else, and you keep bad records, you could get screwed very easily.

Or, the client could come back to you and say “Hey you owe me so many more cleanings.” And if you haven’t kept records, you’re on the hook.

Unless you can prove you’re even.

So, if you’re not good at bookkeeping and you’re not good at keeping score, and you’re not good at paying your taxes on things like barter, and trade, and swapping. Then don’t do it.

Because it’s going to cause you a lot of headaches later on.

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Barter Means New Deals And New Customers

Barter for vouchers to use for marketing bonusesThe good news of barter is if you decide you want to do this as a business, it is a new way of picking up the business that you normally would not have.

Now, we talked about direct trade, where you have something someone else wants, and they have something you want, of equal value, and you swap.

The second way to trade is through a barter exchange.

Now one of the very first jobs that I had when I moved away from home was I worked as a broker in a barter exchange.

We were like a clearing house where a whole bunch of different companies would add their products and services in a great big pool. And then take from the pool, in fair trade value, products and services they need. 

Reciprocal Trades Through a Clearing House Exchange

Barter, swap and trade exchange clearing house

And it was always changing. Every month it was something different.

I might get a phone call for from an outdoor advertising company and they would say “Hey, we have billboards all up and down the interstate that range from about $1500 to $1700 a month. Can you sell these billboards for us? We haven’t sold them yet.” 

NOTE: If they didn’t sell them by a certain date, then they would sell them for trade credits. Otherwise, the month would slip by with no paid advertising on that billboard. And that would be lost revenue to the outdoor advertising company that they could never recoup. Because once the time is gone – it’s gone. 

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Barter Through an Exchange Replaces Otherwise Lost Revenue

So, then I would call my clients, a restaurant for example. And I would say “Would you like to have this billboard that is near your location for $1700 a month?”

And they would say “Yeah, that’s a great deal.”

Well, the company that has the billboards doesn’t necessarily need $1700 worth of food.

So, we talked about the vouchers. (The vouchers are also called script.)

And so, we would get the script from the restaurant which came in $50 increments.

I could turn around and sell those $50 vouchers to anyone in the network or exchange.

Make Your Own Barter or Trade Agreements

barter cleaning when cleaning client cancelsSo, let’s say that you have house cleaning and you come to an exchange and you say “I would like to offer $600 a month of house cleaning.” That might be three cleanings per month.

You give the barter exchange three vouchers of $200. They sell those vouchers to their members. And the members that purchased the voucher can call for an appointment or they can go on a waiting list. Maybe you only do barter deals when you have a cash job cancellation. 

In this case, you would keep a waiting list and then when you have a cancellation, you call these people on the first right of refusal basis.

Use Your Barter Dollars or Credits Wisely

And so, you could turn around and buy $600 worth of products in the exchange whether it was for different restaurants, massage therapy,  light bulbs for your home etc.There are all kinds of weird, unused and unsold items that come through barter exchanges.

So, you’re kind of taking a risk, because if you’re looking for something specific. It may not be available.

The secret is to look for things with soft costs to buy with your barter credits.  Like advertising for example.

Advertising is often a soft cost. If a magazine is going to be printed on a particular day and they are approaching the deadline and haven’t sold the ad space – they’re still going to print that magazine.

They’re going to find somebody or something to put inside that magazine. Have you ever seen those “Put Your Ad Here” Ads? They could have sold that to somebody in exchange for barter credits or restaurant script.

And so that’s a great time as a house cleaner if you want to do advertising in a magazine to do a barter deal where you’re not paying cash for that ad.

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Barter is All About Creativity and Flexibility

The thing with the barter exchange is there is usually a membership fee, and there’s usually a transaction fee.

So, if you decide that you want to barter, it’s a way to exchange your cleaning services for a bunch of other things that are available to you. It could be website design, or somebody helping you with SEO. 

It could be somebody helping you with social media where they figure out templates that you can reuse on an ongoing basis.

With barter, you can purchase a logo design for your company. All different kinds of things that you may not even have thought of as a barter option.

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Is Barter Right For You?

So, should you do barter for your business?

I don’t recommend it if you’re just starting out because you have a lot of other things to figure out to get your get your business off the ground. Questions Below

But, every savvy business person knows that the day will come when you have to start thinking creatively and outside the box.

And as soon as you figure out ways that you can barter and trade, you can pick up a whole bunch of customers you wouldn’t have had otherwise. And purchase a bunch of services that you don’t have cash for.

Alright, so that’s it for today. And now it’s your turn. Have you ever bartered house cleaning for a product or service? I’m curious. Leave your notes in the review section below and let me know your creative ways you’ve swapped or traded. 

Recommended Books On The Art of Barter

  1. The Art of Barter: How to Trade for Almost Anything
  2. Barter Your Way to Greater Wealth: Increase Your Income Improve Your Lifestyle
  3. Barter Book – How to Protect Yourself When Bartering
  4. Learn To Barter and 21 Ways To Increase Your Income: How to Do More with Less During Tough Economic Times
  5. No Cash? No Problem!: Learn How To Get Everything You Want in Business and Life, Without Using Cash

And until I see you again, leave the world a cleaner place than when you found it. 

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