Preparation Matters

"First thing we do, let's kill all the laywers." William Shakespeare

“First thing we do, let’s kill all the laywers.” William Shakespeare


Being prepared means more than having clean brushes and a neat appearance.

A contractor friend called me about a problem with a customer’s project.

The project is a 25 year old residential home with badly peeling paint.  Buddy (not his real name) admitted to the client that he made an error in the repainting and said he would be happy to correct it.

However, the customer hired a lawyer and filed legal action.  The client is demanding that Buddy remove and replace all of the siding on the house. Then repaint the project correctly.

Instead of a $2000 dollar fix, the client wants a $45,000 settlement.

Problem: It seems as though Buddy’s client is trying to take advantage of a painting error and turn it into new siding and a fresh paint job. Buddy is in deeper trouble because his work contract fails to state how disagreements will be handled when problems arise.

My advice:

Problems will happen. Period.  One of the best possible plans to avoid a sticky situation from spinning out of control is to prepare for a disagreement.

Protect yourself and your customer from unreasonable legal costs with a dispute resolution clause in your work contract.

“You’ll be hearing from my lawyer” is the battle cry of many.  Often, the only parties who win in a dispute are lawyers.  Lawyers charge by the hour and have little incentive to resolve a case promptly.

Almost every contract you sign from a credit card, mortgage to insurance, stipulates the parties must first attempt to settle the problem through legally binding negotiation or arbitration.   If that fails, the parties can  escalate the matter to civil court.

If it is good enough for Wells Fargo and Geico, then it’s good enough for the rest of us. You must include a dispute resolution clause in your contracts to protect yourself, your company and your client.

And just so a tricky attorney won’t sue me for practicing and dispensing legal advice without a license, check with your still living lawyer before you let the ink dry on your new work contract.

Good Luck!

Steve Ryan, Mad Dog founder and CEO

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