When you become a new customer of any big company, they will probably ask you to agree to certain written terms & conditions.
These can be part of your main contract, or can be a separate document referred to from within the contract – they may even only be published online in digital form, depending on the company concerned.
But many small business owners operate without the protection of ‘Ts & Cs’ when taking on customers of their own.
This leaves you facing a risk the big brands are careful to avoid – because, when everything is written in one place and signed, there are fewer opportunities to argue over what has been agreed.
You don’t have to fall behind though.
A single set of terms & conditions can be enough to protect you against all manner of complaints from customers, helping to dissuade unhappy clients from taking legal action to try and get their money back.
You will still need to be ‘in the right’, of course, but your Ts & Cs make it much easier to prove that you are right – and that your client’s complaint is unfounded.
One of the most important areas for a small business to set out specific terms & conditions is payment.
Ts & Cs allow you to set out payment terms from day one, rather than waiting until you issue your first invoice to check what terms a client is willing to agree to.
You can set out a payment deadline – and once this is agreed to upfront, you can enforce it more easily later.
And if the customer fails to pay, signed contracts and Ts & Cs give you a clear procedure to follow.
This can allow you to charge penalty fees and interest on the amount due, and may also give you a stronger legal standpoint if you cease your supply of goods and services to a non-paying customer.
Best of all, having Ts & Cs drawn up for your business is a one-off cost that provides you with a document you can use again and again, unless your area of business changes substantially.
That makes it a long-term investment worth making as early as you can, so that you can begin to reap the rewards.