Business is changing. Contracts are changing. You don’t sign every contract you agree to anymore. You agree to things online all the time. So, how does it work?
“I have read and agree to the terms of service” is the biggest lie on the internet.
If it isn’t Apple is spending a lot of money on a legal team that is worthless.
One of the elements of a contract is acceptance. That is why you have to check that box that says you agree to the terms. It is why some companies make you physically scroll to the bottom of the pop up before you can continue to the next screen.
With the Internet, getting an agreement signed for every customer is not practical (or possible). The Internet, however, as a marketplace has more liabilities and places where you need to protect your business.
So, how do you prove acceptance?
The same way you do with a paper document. Some kind of indication that you agree. It isn’t new for customers to agree to contracts without reading them (have you ever bought a house?).
There is no requirement that you actually read a contract before you sign it. You do not need to have read a contract to be bound by it. You have to be able to have read the contract. You must be capable of understanding it. Actual understanding is irrelevant.
So, what does this mean for your business?
Having a contract online can be helpful to YOUR business for 4 reasons:
You Can Easily Update Your Contract
With an online contract, you don’t have to go back and forth with every client when you make updates. You have to give notice that you are making changes, but it is easy to make the change. Notice is important because you have to prove acceptance of the new terms the same you did for the original contract.
Updates Apply to Everyone
With one central agreement all of your clients agree too, one change makes an update to every client agreement. That makes price changes or complete term changes much easier than tracking down every single customer you have under contract to get a new signature.
Your sales process is moving online. It is a lot easier to close a deal when it happens online. You can integrate acceptance of the contract into your billing or your online client portal. Customers are accustomed to agreeing to things online. If you use an online scheduling software, you can have an acceptance of the terms at the time a new client schedules an appointment with you. No matter what how you make your agreement online, make sure it actually works with your sales process. Don’t just do it because everyone else is (or because you read it would be a good idea).
Customer agreements need to evolve with your business. The ease of changes in an online agreement can’t help you solve issues that come up before you realize they are issues with your contract. But, if your agreement is online, you can make changes for all of your clients as soon as you discover you have a contract that won’t help you collect from your clients. This be really helpful if you forgot to charge attorneys’ fees or interest.
Now that you know why it is good to have an agreement online, how can you make the change? It starts with making sure your contract will work for you.
We will talk about the rest tomorrow.