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Your Character Comes Before Software

By Paul Suplizio

IRTA’s first Executive Director and member of the Barter Hall-of-Fame

Paul Suplizio recently provided his thoughts to Shera Dalin and Karen Hoffman, who are authoring a book on barter. Here’s what he told them, reprinted with Suplizio’s permission.

A trade exchange (barter club) is based on TRUST and the character of the owner/manager is the ultimate guarantor of the value of the trade dollars.

Consider the following. You recruit members, add them to your software and web site, and open your barter exchange or club for trading. One of the members makes a sale to another member and is therefore in possession of trade dollars. Those trade dollars have no value whatever unless the member can spend them for something he or she needs. Whom does he look to for purchase opportunities?

You are the person they look to supply those opportunities. You are the person who must broker those trade dollars into something of value for him. The instant you allow the creation of one trade dollar, you become trade-broker-in-chief for every one of your members. It’s an awesome responsibility that cannot be shirked off by telling your members, “Just look at the web site and find what you need.”

They may find junk and not what they need at the web site, then what? In whom do they place their trust to be able to exchange their trade dollars for needed products/services? It is you, and if you are an easy-going type that doesn’t go out of your way (when people are pestering all hours of the day), you are going to fail that trust and your exchange will fall apart. 

Members will sit on their trade dollars and trading will collapse—only you can fulfill their trust that they will get something they want in exchange for what they gave up. So if you go into managing a club, you better be prepared for the responsibilities of being a trade broker the rest of your days, and you had better be prepared to redeem the trust the members placed in you when you promised that their trade dollars would be valuable, because you and you alone are responsible for redeeming their trust. If you don’t want that responsibility, running a barter exchange or barter club is not for you. Barter is not for sissies.

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