Many business owners may be using contracts, invoices and billing statements with too many holes.
My grandfather used to tell me stories of his childhood, when business dealings between people were sealed with nothing more than a handshake and their word. Have those days gone? Are they nothing more than a romantic notion of a simpler time, when a handshake and the spoken word of truth actually meant something, and people didn't have to resort to such formalities of setting forth their contracted terms, conditions and stipulations on parchment?
Nah. Contracts have been around forever. In fact, truth be told, one reason many people back in those days - especially in the rural South, where my grandfather farmed - didn't write out their agreements on paper was because many of them couldn't read or write in the first place.
Today, a well-drafted contract is an indication that you are a person who stands behind their word and are honorable enough to put your word on paper, there for all the world to see. The problem arises, however, not so much because one person fails to uphold their end of the bargain, but because the contract itself is poorly drafted or ambiguous. Contracts will be construed against the person who drafted them, which means that if you take the time to draft a contract and have someone sign it, you absolutely must ensure you have covered all the terms and provisions surrounding the business deal, as well as all the possible contingencies that you probably haven't considered.
Like most people on this planet, I enter into contracts on a daily basis as a consumer. As a business owner, I enter into contracts regularly, so I understand, on a personal level, the importance of a properly drafted contract that is fair, yet protects my business and financial interests. As an attorney, I thoroughly construct and draft contracts that cover all aspects of my clients' business dealings, including, with particularity and attention to detail, those areas of the law that are highly sensitive to litigation. Nowhere is the saying 'the best offense is a good defense' more applicable to protecting your business interests than having a bullet-proof contract.
“A well-drafted contract is the best way to avoid litigation.”
Unfortunately, just because something is 'bullet proof' doesn't mean it's 'fool proof.' Having a bullet proof contract will not automatically keep you out of court, or prevent someone from suing over a contract dispute. However, a properly drafted, unambiguous contract will allow you to walk tall with confidence into the courtroom - and walk out the same way.
Contractors, subs and the small business owner
North Alabama is one of the fast growing regions in the country. The housing market continues to thrive and new construction is on every horizon. With the influx of new business in our area, the need for properly drafted contracts between contractors, framers, plumbers, electricians, HVAC owners, masons, roofers, landscapers, architects and the hundreds of other businesses and services which interact which other on a daily basis is of paramount importance. From payment structures and interest accumulations to lien practices, make sure yours covers it all and is drafted on Kevlar.