International Monetary Systems

Second Interview with Richard Harris of International Monetary Systems

Learn more about the barter industry that International Monetary Systems is involved in from Richard Harris.

Can you tell us more about the barter industry and what makes it attractive to a potential franchisee?
International Monetary Systems is North America's leading barter network, or trade exchange. The company now serves more than 16,000 clients in 51 markets from coast to coast. IMS barter is recession-proof. In today's economy, many business people are searching for more ways to stretch their dollar. By joining IMS Barter, members can use the trade dollars they earn from selling their products or services to other members in the network in exchange for needed products and services for their business, without using cash.  

What is a Trade Exchange?
A trade exchange is a facilitator and third-party record-keeper for a group of businesses that trade or barter their goods and services instead of using cash. These businesses are part of a secondary economy - a network in which they earn and spend trade dollars with other members. The exchange assists with the barter transactions and maintains the proper records.

How has your industry changed in the last 10-20 years?  
Since the inception of the barter industry in 1969, the perception of barter has gone from one-on-one trading to a network of individual trade exchanges across America, each of whom has created its own proprietary currency. Through its industry roll-up program, IMS has consolidated many of these exchanges and has become the largest, most dynamic trading platform. The entire barter industry processes more than $10 billion in products and services traded annually - all without cash through the use of trade dollars or barter dollars.

What trends do you see in your industry over the next 5-10 years?  

Through the electronic age, the awakening of the barter component in the economy is reaching beyond small businesses. Larger corporations and publicly traded companies are starting to engage in barter as a means to expand commerce.

What is the biggest concern about your industry that a franchisee candidate should be aware of and investigate?
The candidate should investigate if the parent company is the leader in the industry and if it has a sound barter currency. When beginning to operate in most new markets, the main hurdle they will encounter will be the lack of comprehension of the power of barter. While this impediment may provide some challenges, it will also engage the curiosity of business owners.

Why do you think your company stands out in the industry?
Don Mardak, the founder of IMS, started the business from his home office in New Berlin, Wisconsin in 1985. Since then, through our industry roll-up program described above, we have steadily and carefully built the most respected trade dollar in circulation today and the most comprehensive trading network of small businesses in the history of the barter industry. We set out every day to change the way the world does business. We accomplish that through our dedicated employees and satisfied members. Today, with 18 offices serving 51 markets, IMS has branded the largest full-service, membership-based trading network in the United States and Canada. International Monetary Systems is a publicly traded company (OTC BB: ITNM). For us, this means that our financial reporting and accounting methods are audited and subject to strict regulations. For the franchisees, it means they can trust IMS to be a lasting resource and partner in their business growth.

What makes your franchise opportunity more attractive than your competitors?

With established systems and guidelines to follow, franchisees will be able to get acclimated quickly and successfully. We have in place a complete, professional sales and brokering division, our Trade Network Tracking System (TNT) software, the website, 24-hour authorization access, marketing literature, special events, 16,000 trading partners, travel division, media division, accounting department, human resources department, legal department, and collections division. Our accounting department handles monthly member statement printing. With access to over 16,000 IMS businesses trading in the US and Canada, the franchisees' newly enrolled clients will have immediate access to buying and selling from a wide array of businesses, providing a strong foundation for their success. IMS has the most respected and solid currency in the barter industry in North America, thus providing clients with the means to exchange their trade dollars in a wide selection of outlets.

Describe the ideal candidate for International Monetary Systems: 

  • Are enthusiastic, flexible people who have an outgoing personality and two years experience in outside business sales and marketing
  • They should also have good communication skills, and/or management experience, and should be results oriented. 
  • Have solid business acumen and the knowledge of how to build and operate a business, and should also enjoy working with the general public. It is helpful if he/she is involved in the community. 
  • Can build relationships, lead a team, and who has the motivation to excel! He/she should be confident and able to cold call business-to-business prospects.
  • Have a minimum of $75k in liquid capital and a net worth of $350,000. 
  • The person must be ready to make a full-time commitment.

What's the strongest skill you require in a candidate?  
Solid sales experience. You will need the complete comprehension of the outside sales process, from prospecting through introducing and enrolling a new client into an intangible business platform.

Describe the working environment of your franchisees:

The work environment and philosophy is that each franchisee is a self-motivated entrepreneur. Each controls his own client base, operating expenses and potential income. Whether the person is working from home, in an office, or from a car, his time is his own. IMS is a business-to-business barter exchange that serves the business community from 8:30am to 5pm. This gives our franchise owners the ability to enjoy more time with their families.

Why has your company been successful?
The foundation and blueprint for IMS' success is through the clients we keep, the integrity we demand from our staff, and the lasting relationships with clients. We have a high commitment to providing excellent customer service in helping our clients prosper in our trade exchange.

What advice would you give someone interested in buying a franchise in your industry?

Barter is a remarkable economic tool. Therefore, if you have a willingness to work, if you enjoy going out into the field soliciting new members, and if you love being a dealmaker, this business model is for you. Owning and operating a barter system such as IMS Barter can provide you and your family with a wonderful lifestyle and a tremendous amount of personal satisfaction.  

How much experience in this industry should a franchisee candidate have should they consider buying a franchise in your industry?
Salesmanship is the key to success in this industry, however it is not essential to have experience in the industry. A minimum of two years outside sales and a willingness to work on new sales every day are necessary ingredients for success.  

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