How to Trade Services for Goods

Contra trading is most often seen as a way for businesses and individuals to swap and barter assets that they own. Trading physical items is one way for contra dealing to work, but it’s also possible to barter services as well – physical items do not need to change hands at any time during a contra deal.

Trading services, either for goods or other services in return, can be an excellent way for businesses to capitalise on underutilised sections of their business, often acquiring assets that benefit their company without spending any money at all. For instance, companies that specialise in buying and owning media will frequently use advertising time as a service for contra dealing; it’s very easy for them to offer up time on their platforms to businesses in need of exposure, because they don’t incur any costs by doing so. In return, they can acquire all manner of assets vital to the running of their business, or which can then be sold on for a profit.


How to set up a “services for goods” contra deal

The basic principles of any contra deal still hold true when services are involved; the most important element of a deal is a clear, detailed description of precisely what you intend to trade.

This is doubly true when trading a service rather than an asset, because your services are not tangible objects – there’s no way to tell exactly what you’re going to trade other than what you describe. For that reason it’s essential to be explicit in what is and isn’t included in your offer:

BAD: “Ad Time on our platform”

GOOD: “10 x 30-second slots on our media platform during peak time (approx 300k viewers per slot)


Accounting for service transactions 

You’ll also need to account for services traded in exactly the same way as you would for any other contra deal. This means recording every deal you make and the value of each transaction – contra deals should always be of equal value, so you’ll need to include the monetary worth of your services in their description. You should record the services you trade as if they were being sold in the normal way.