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Don’t Forget About the Fine Print

As a small, medium, or even large business, you likely encounter contracts on a daily basis. Contracts include the agreed-to price, time for delivery or for service to be complete, and all other hard-fought negotiation terms. Yet, every contract is also likely to contain numerous fine print “terms and conditions.” While money may be made in a successful negotiation over the price, money will inevitably be lost at some point over an unfavorable “term” or “condition” you never realized was included in the agreement.

If you are a small business who provides contracts to customers, it is a good idea to have your own standard contract. A standard contract saves you time and ensures consistency between customers. In addition, a standard contract allows you to set the ground rules by providing the “terms and conditions” most favorable to you. If your customers are like most customers, and probably even like yourself, they do not read the fine print. Heck, even if they do, they are unlikely to try to negotiate the standard contract you use for all of your customers. Therefore, it is to your benefit to include “terms and conditions” tailored to your business that are favorable to you.

Business owners often get by believing their “terms and conditions” are fine and adequately protect the business. Business owners often think they are saving money by not contacting an attorney to ensure their “terms and conditions” offer the protection needed. It is only later when a contract dispute arises that a business owner notices the hole their “terms and conditions” left. Unfortunately, at that time it will cost the business owner much more to litigate the contract dispute than it would have to pay an attorney up-front to offer the proper protection.

In addition to seeking protection in your own standard contract, as a business owner, you should also remember that every contract you receive from another business is also negotiable. While the price, shipping, and date are important features, again, so too are the “terms and conditions.” Just because a business provides you a standard contract does not mean changes cannot be made. If the company wants your business, they will negotiate the fine print.

When it comes to contracts, always remember two key takeaways: (1) you are deemed to have read the fine print on every contract you sign; and (2) everything is negotiable. It is better to spend a little money up front to fully understand and agree to a contract as than to spend a lot of money later on when a contract dispute arises.

For help drafting, revising, or negotiating the “terms and conditions” of a contract, contact Shinners & Cook, today.