One of the most important parts of any properly structured plan for protecting one’s assets is documentation. While this may seem somewhat obvious since there is a lot of documentation involved in setting up various legal structures, we need to focus a bit more on the totality of that documentation rather than simply limiting ourselves to understanding the importance of legal entities.
If you’ve read the past couple of issues of Traces, you may have noticed that I’ve been writing a series of articles focused on various parts of the overall asset protection process that in- formation marketers need to know about and implement. Although some of the steps in that process are commonly known, many of the steps are often overlooked. This is a continuation of that series that covers the importance of documentation as a key component of covering one’s assets.
As a reminder, the process that I advocate for my clients is to go through a bit of a checklist for protecting against the potential negative repercussions that can arise when customer/client disputes are not handled correctly. The checklist is made up of the following areas of focus:
In last month’s article, I outlined the importance of communicating with clients through the use of documentation. While this is part of the overall documentation process, for our purposes here, we’re looking at things more formally. It’s important to note that the first step in proving a matter when it comes to a lawsuit, or any other dispute for that matter, is to take a look at the documentation.
When a customer or client has a question as to what is included in a package that they bought, the first place to look is the sales order form or agreement. What does the form say? One of the biggest mistakes that I see people make is that they fail to include adequate listings and/or descriptions of what is being purchased in the sales paperwork. When a dispute arises as to what the customer/client should receive, having a clear description of the contents of the package can be very beneficial in determining whether or not the product or service was sufficiently delivered.
In addition to this coverage of the product or service, it’s important to also include language covering the terms and conditions of the sale. For instance, is there a refund period? What about the process for resolving disputes? Does the contract have a dispute resolution provision that outlines how matters will be addressed such as a mediation or arbitration clause? Are there any disclaimers that need to be provided? Is there language that outlines any requirements on the part of the customer/client in order to qualify for a refund? As you can see, there are numerous considerations that must be adequately covered in this initial documentation. However, there’s far more than just this document.
As online marketers, it’s important to understand that there are certain terms and conditions that must be clearly listed on websites. On top of this, we’ve got to consider privacy policies, earnings disclaimers, anti-spam policies, and many other regulatory concerns. While these are all essential from a governmental standpoint, I would argue that the documentation can be very valuable in interactions with customers and clients as well.