International Door & Operator Industry

JAN-FEB 2018

Garage door industry magazine for garage door dealers, garage door manufacturers, garage door distributors, garage door installers, loading docks, garage door operators and openers, gates, and tools for the door industry.

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Page 13 of 142

V O L U M E 5 1 I S S U E 1 F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 8 11 Every so often, it's important for business owners to remind themselves of certain principles that they learned long ago, that they know implicitly, but that can sometimes get overlooked when business is heating up. The start of a new year is a particularly good time to go over those basics. So for this article, I am offering some basic tips for IDA members from a legal perspective. Every dealer knows these things, but sometimes it's good to get a refresher. Contract: Freshen Up Your Form The most basic part of a dealer's relationship with the customer is a contract. There is no requirement that a contract be in writing, but the absence of a writing means you are in a "he-said, he-said" situation if there is a dispute. That isn't a good situation for dispute resolution, or for reducing your risk. Companies in the construction industry should review and refresh their contract documents at least once every three to five years. For companies who utilize pre-produced contract forms from an organization such as the American Institute of Architects (AIA) or ConsensusDOCS, now is a particularly good time to review, because AIA just rolled out its ten-year update of the primary contract documents. In 2017, the new versions of the AIA A101 general contract, A201 general conditions, and A401 subcontract, among others, were unveiled. While these forms Continued on page 12 LEGAL&LEGISLATION By Brian J. Schoolman, Safran Law Offices are described as "evolutionary, rather than revolutionary," there are still some significant changes about which companies who use those forms need to know. Even if you aren't using commercially published forms, periodically going over your contract is still important. Three to five years is a long enough period of time for a business owner to have experienced issues with customers. From that set of experiences, a dealer should examine which problems could have been addressed or avoided with better contract language. Did the contract describe when services would be completed? Did it discuss what would happen if the job took longer, was more expensive than originally estimated, or uncovered additional issues? These situations – unique to your particular business – should be compiled and learned from, and then incorporated into the estimate, purchase order, contract, invoice, and any other contract forms that you use with your customers. Finally, find out whether there have been specific changes to the law that you need to address. You don't want to be using a contract document that is legally out of date, because that could leave you without the protections that your contract is intended to provide. Documentation: Organize and Digitize "Paperwork" used to be a literal term as well as a figurative one. A technician in the field would generate paper when producing an estimate, preparing an order, giving a warranty, and any other type of transaction with the customer. But whether your business has transitioned from hard copy to electronic documentation or not, paperwork is an essential record-keeping function which should be reviewed to make Back to BASICS Companies in the construction industry should review and refresh their contract documents at least once every 3 to 5 years.

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