Top Tips to Save Money in Business - Part 1: Read the Small Print Before You Sign Any Agreement
As well as coaching individuals for personal and life coaching, I also provide business coaching.
Although I was a management consultant for many years, I also set up and ran a furniture franchise business with the Chinese. The franchise was international - based in over 25 countries so it was a large scale business. I was the master franchisor in the UK and also was a partner in 4 other showrooms in Cyprus. I had a large showroom in London as well as an online presence. What experience did I have in furniture? None! What experience did I have in retail? None! So I was learning by doing and I have to admit I made a lot of mistakes. I learned so much from setting up and running my own business - and that's one of the main reasons why I feel confident that I can offer effective business coaching.
I want to share my experiences with all business owners, especially those who have recently started their businesses and I am especially keen to share my tips on saving money. A lot of my tips will be relevant to all types of businesses whether you are in retail or not.
Before you sign any contract with any service provider, whether it be for a lease, a contract with a web design company, or a PR company to promote your business and build your brand or use any advisors such as accountants etc, make sure you read the contract and, just as importantly, the small print!
Imagine the following scenario – you’ve put a lot of effort in finding a suitable supplier/advisor, e.g. a PR company. Sensibly, you’ve put together a long list of all the requirements you are looking for (known as a specification of requirements) – you’ve interviewed several potential companies from which you have made a shortlist. You’ve interviewed them thoroughly, put in a lot of time in meeting them and interviewing them. Finally, after a lot of effort and interviewing, you’ve found a company you like - you’ve told them the good news that they have won the work. They are delighted at the good news. You’re both happy – and then they ask you to sign the contract - you’re happy to do so and you even read through the main terms of the contract thinking it’s just a formality.
So, if you are like most people, you don’t like giving bad news and you certainly don’t like confrontation, but you know you have no choice but to tell them directly – you summon up the courage to tell them the bad news. They are disappointed to hear the news and contrary to your worst fears, there is no argument or shouting, they accept the news with professionalism. However, they tell you that in line with the contract, the notice period is 3 months! Of course, you are disbelieving and ask them to clarify where that is stated as you have read the contract but didn’t come across those clauses in the contract. Well, it’s in the small print in the clauses specified on the back of the contract. Of course, you didn’t read all those clauses – who does?! And now, that omission has come to bite you where it really hurts – in your wallet!
That mistake is likely to cost you thousands of pounds. And there is nothing you can do – you should have read the small print!!
The same principle applies to everything that involves a contract – read the small print – take your time, no matter how long it takes – it could save you thousands!
It doesn’t matter what the contract is for – it could be for warehousing or using a web analytics company or a lease for a premises.
The more money that’s involved, the more important this becomes. For example, signing a lease for a premises is a big commitment – the initial rent may be very attractive and you love the location so it seems a great idea to sign the lease, but the small print might state that there will be a major rent review (upward only) every 2 years and the increase will be at market rates. The contract may also stipulate there is no break clause for 11 years! Those 2 conditions could be a major milestone around your neck; far outweighing the attractiveness of the initial rent and the favourable location. Failure to spot those two stringent clauses could cost you tens of thousands of pounds.
The advantage of reading the small print is that you are then able to negotiate the terms of the contract if you spot clauses in the small print you are not comfortable/happy with and you may also insert some clauses that you want too!!
I definitely learned this lesson the hard way! In fact, it took a couple of painful and costly experiences to learn the importance and necessity of reading the small print of all contracts.
To cut a long story short, I should have read the small print of the contract relating to the warehousing company I used to hold all my stock of furniture. After a while, I discovered a lot of errors by them and decided to end the contract and move by stock elsewhere. However, when I told them of my intentions, I was told that I had to give 2 months notice! Ouch! That mistake alone cost me several thousand pounds! I made a similar mistake with the first PR company I used – once I decided I no longer wished to use their services I thought I could just telephone them and end the contract at the end of the month. However, the small print in the contract stated that I had to give them one full month’s notice!
Well, I hope some of you have found that article useful! I am very keen to find out your thoughts and experiences too, so please write some comments or send me an email at email@example.com