The internet is full of terms and conditions generators and websites offering contracts for free or at a low price. Documents such as these are usually at a low cost, but relying on something like this to protect your business, could end up costing you more in the long run should a client relationship breakdown.
I could be here hours writing about all the problems I have seen with templated documents and explaining why certain templated clauses are so open to interpretation that they offer very little protection. However I want to highlight in this blog, the key areas that you might not think about when using a templated document.
For a small exercise I used an online generator and inputted the details for the services we offer at BEB Consultancy (UK) Ltd.
My first question I was prompted with was whether we sold to consumers or businesses. Then questions relating to address, company number and payment terms on invoice are all pretty standard. I then got asked ‘On what rate will any additional services fees be paid?’ I have 2 options, hourly or daily. Not all services work like this. Questions around the deposit and when that is due. Again very restrictive. We offer fixed price packages, consultancy packages, contract reviews and retained services. These terms do not cover all the services we offer, the ones we wrote do.
I managed to answer the questions without hurdles and I am presented with a set of terms to use for the business. If I didn’t know what I knew I would assume it was enough. Typically someone would use it for their business despite maybe not even really understanding it and may go many months without problems. Purely because no issues have arose.
The agreement refers to quotation and fees throughout and this highlights how important the proposal etc is to the contract. I often have to explain to clients what the quotation is, at what point terms and conditions apply and how important it is. Getting a bespoke contract drafted would clear the formation of the contract up and a consultation on how to ensure this is always correctly applied would ensure there are no questions over whether a contract even existed. Again I see time and time again businesses trying to rely on terms that were not applied to the contract, sticking them on your website just isn’t enough.
The clause ‘Your Obligations’ is also crucial to your terms. There are certain conditions where you rely on your clients to complete something so you can continue your obligations with little interruptions. This clause was automatically generated and was very generic and in all honesty didn’t mean a great deal. No two businesses are the same with this and it crucial to put in your terms what you require from your client which is hugely dependent on the industry. Laying this out from the outset is crucial to a happier working relationship.
Often I come across terms whereby the terms are not mirroring exactly what their business is doing, this defeats the object of having them in the first place. A clear document would support the management of how the contract is formed, quotes, deposits, etc etc and and aid your business processes positively.
You want the contract to outline exactly what’s expected of you, what services you are offering and what happens when something goes wrong. If you are a web designer your terms and conditions are going to be massively different to a business offering social media management or a business offering flower arrangement services, the differences are endless.
Using templated documents means business owners also run the risk of using the wrong kind of agreement. For example I often have clients telling me they need a partnership agreement when in fact they need a joint venture agreement which on paper is very very different.
Templates are not the only concern but also businesses that use other businesses terms and just change the name and attempt to chance some clauses assuming they are enough. I wrote a blog on why this also a no no. https://www.bebconsultancy.co.uk/why-you-should-never-copy-and-paste-your-tcs-like-seaborne-freight/
It can be a worry when running your own business how much everything is going to cost, we don’t charge anything for just a conversation and we only ever charge a fixed price so you know how much it is going to cost you. Call us today 01604 217365 for a no obligation conversation.