International Monetary Systems

Q&A with Richard Harris of International Monetary Systems

Richard Harris talks with Franchise Gator about International Monetary Systems and the profit it can bring to you!

How was International Monetary Systems originally conceived and started?

The IMS barter network was conceived and established in 1985 by founder, Don Mardak. He quickly realized how the barter concept could be offered to business people to help them attract new customers, move their excess capacity, conserve their cash, and become more profitable. After growing IMS into North America's largest independent barter network, the company has now decided to offer franchises to creative individuals who are looking for a dynamic business opportunity .

What was your original vision for your company? How has that changed over time?

Mr. Mardak's original vision was to create a nationwide barter system that could help other business people survive, and then thrive, even in a difficult economy, similar to the one we have experienced during the past several years. Much of the early growth was through acquisitions of other trade exchanges - a virtual rolling up of the barter industry. Now that much of this consolidation has been achieved, IMS is offering franchises to create a program of organic growth. In 2012, we still have that same level of commitment to our members and to forward-thinking business people.

What do you believe is the single most important factor when choosing a franchise?

A potential franchisee should ask if the company has an established system that can flourish in recessionary times and if it can produce a viable income for the investor.

Why should someone choose IMS over other similar franchises?

There are very few similar franchises, and IMS Barter is the most progressive of those and has the strongest barter currency. Barter is an exciting and competitive industry where the franchisee can be his or her own boss and has no limits on his potential growth and profitability.

What makes your industry attractive?

The International Reciprocal Trade Association "our primary industry-wide organization" stated, "Last year, member companies using the 'Modern Trade and Barter' process made it possible for over 400,000 companies worldwide to utilize their excess business capacities and underperforming assets to earn an estimated $12 Billion in previously lost and wasted revenues." IMS Barter functions in the B2B community. Franchisees will find many economies of scale by associating with International Monetary Systems and will have a business that, once established, will produce consistent, recurring revenues.

What types of qualities do you look for in potential franchisees?

We seek people that have solid business acumen, good sales skills, the knowledge of how to build and operate a business, and enjoy working with the general public. It is helpful if he/she is involved in the community.

What do your franchise fees and royalties cover?

Ongoing support:

  • Regular consultative visits from IMS' franchise support team
  • Business review analysis of IMS office sales and performance vs. system-wide benchmarks
  • Operational manuals
  • Intensive hands-on training at IMS' corporate office in New Berlin, Wisconsin
  • Sales kits
  • Logos
  • Printed and electronic promotions
  • $20,000 trade of influx capital for advertising purposes
  • Interest-free trade credit line for marketing purposes
  • National and localized publicity
  • Complete e-commerce website
  • Electronic BarterBuys promotions to 23,000 traders
  • Advertisements in statement stuffers
  • Interactive viral marketing referral program generating lead promotions
  • Cyber marketplace
  • Establish dynamic marketplace accepting our currency called IMS trade dollars at over 16,000 locations.

How do territories work for your franchisees?
Franchise opportunities are available throughout North America. IMS has international partnerships and will consider branching beyond North America. IMS reserves the right of first refusal for areas occupied by a company-owned office. We will work with the prospective franchisee to help identify and choose a location in the area in which he may be interested. Franchisees are given a protected geographic territory within which no other franchise will be placed. Ideally, in order for our market to be successful there needs to be a minimum population of 100,000.

Why has your franchise model been successful?
The franchise program is just being started. However, with our trade exchange as the established model, there are successful systems and guidelines already in place for the franchisees to follow. They will be able to get acclimated quickly and successfully. With over 25 years of experience in the barter business, and having acquired 32 other trade exchanges in the past, IMS has a wealth of knowledge. We share this information with our franchisees.

Where do you see your franchise in 5 years and 10 years?

Currently IMS services 52 geographic markets in North America. During the next decade, we intend to expand to 250 markets across North America and beyond.

What is your favorite advice for new franchisees to help them succeed?

Choose your team wisely. Do your due diligence, research and read articles. Look for an experienced winning team that has a branded footprint and a clear vision. Then partner up with them.

What would you tell potential franchisees that may be nervous about the financial burdens of starting a franchise?

There's always a safety net. They will have made a modest investment by most franchise standards. They will own their business, and yet not be out there alone. They will have a professional and seasoned support team available when they need it. Additionally, they'll find their franchise peers to be a reliable and ready network of understanding and advice.

Can you explain your financial assistance?

While we don't provide financing for their general franchise expenses (rent, utilities, etc), they will have the opportunity to finance a portion of the franchise fee with IMS. Additionally, IMS will provide the franchisee with a grant of $20,000 in IMS Trade dollars for advertising and marketing purposes.

On average, how long does it take to start a new franchise from the franchisees point of view?

There are six phases to opening their doors as an IMS Franchise owner. These could take an average of four to six weeks.

  • Phase One - Complete the IMS Request for Consideration questionnaire
  • Phase Two - Franchise Team Interview
  • Phase Three - IMS Franchise Application Agreement
  • Phase Four - Franchise Agreement, Franchise Disclosure and Due Diligence
  • Phase Five - Signing the Franchise agreement and Franchise Disclosure Document and paying the Franchise fee
  • Phase Six - Begin training and then open their doors!

What was your background and experience before founding this franchise?

I've always been an entrepreneur first and a salesman second with the desire to succeed. Barter gives me the ability to take all that and make a good living by helping businesses grow.

Do you have any franchisee testimonials or success stories that you would like to share?

Not yet, since we are just beginning the franchise program.

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