A website designer might not typically have a lot of business advice for the owner of a window blind shop.
But when Dan Benesh, the operator of Regina-based DB Exteriors and More, heard a web-designer friend in Medicine Hat talk about Tradebank Canada, he was intrigued by the firm that brings businesses together to trade services.
Finding there was no such network in Regina, Benesh did the only logical thing: He brought the franchise to the Queen City.
“We are in a boom economy still and I think there’s a lot of businesses that are coming here and competition is going to get a little more fierce in certain industries and this is a way to give your business an edge,” said Benesh.
Tradebank works something like this:
Say a catering company needs a top-to-bottom cleaning at its building. It could offer up a meal for 50 people and get a certain amount of trade dollars in return. It could then use those trade dollars on the cleaning, and the cleaning company would use its trade dollars earned to perhaps hire an electrician to redo its building’s wiring. The electrician might then take up the offer of the meal for 50 people — everyone gives a service and receives a service in return without spending cash on the transactions.
Benesh sees Tradebank as not only a way to do renova- tions, expansions or maintenance, but also as a vital marketing tool.
“When I heard about the idea, I started thinking about it from my business perspective,” Benesh said. “There’s all these Groupons and other things where they want you to give your product away almost for free or at a loss to get your name out there. Tradebank is a much better way to get your name out there because you can keep your existing cash sales; it doesn’t affect that. We’re just going to bring you extra business that you accept trade dollars for. Then if that business owner recommends you to a friend, that’s going to be a cash deal.”
His web-designer friend in Medicine Hat, in fact, said he landed huge accounts his small operation wouldn’t have otherwise had a chance at without Tradebank.
John Porter, the president of Tradebank Canada, who was in Regina on Monday for several meetings with Benesh and local businesses, said there are already more than 3,000 businesses across Canada taking part in networks.
He explained that although businesses do spend money in trades, it is at those firms’ cost and they get the market value of that service in return.
He found the Ontario company thrived during the economic downturn of 2008.
“They could fill in some downtime on their printing press and get back their staff Christmas party in return,” Porter explained. “It was an extremely effec- tive way to do business and still is. Good or bad times, it doesn’t really matter.”
For his part, Benesh receives a 12.95-per-cent commission on all purchases through Tradebank.
“We really need all businesses,” said Benesh. “We need some of the larger businesses — the big-name companies — and then we need the mom-and-pop places where it’s maybe just one single owner or a couple employees. It can work for anyone, especially if people wanted to expand or fill downtime.”
Tradebank is to host a seminar tonight to learn about bartering as part of a business plan at the Travelodge (4177 Albert St.) at 5:30 p.m. Anyone interested can call 596-8502.