A. DON'T TRY TO PROVIDE FOR EVERY
Try and confine your T's & C's to
the business critical issues that are most susceptible to
potential misunderstandings and bad feelings. Don't obfuscate
things with far-fetched scenarios that are easily resolved
by common sense or existing laws and regulations.
If you feel you must protect yourself
against a kitchen sink of calamities and criminal intentions,
consider developing a Master Business Agreement that you
and your customer only have to come to terms on every few
years or so.
B. POSITION YOUR T's & C's AS A
That's right, if a policy isn't
good for your customer, then it's not good for you. So your
T's & C's should read like good news and you should sell
them as a competitive advantage. Let's examine three of
the most common training-related bones of contention and
see how this plays out.
You decide to impose conditions
on enrollees for canceling late or no-showing at your
public course events. Why is this a customer benefit?
Because you are helping to ensure enrollees who do show
up that the class size and learning environment will be
ideal -- and that they will not be inconvenienced because
a class must be cancelled at the last moment for lack
of attendance. Also, because highly populated classes
make efficient use of your facilities and instructors
-- helping you to keep tuition fees to a minimum.
You forbid customers to re-use
or copy your student materials without paying a supplemental
per person fee. This is a customer benefit because you
would otherwise need to pass this cost through to them
as a substantial up front enterprise license fee. Also,
because unauthorized use would require you to charge more
to customers who do protect your intellectual property.
Finally, because widespread indiscriminate copying would
preclude you from investing in new courses for your customers
A customer doesn't achieve their
annual purchase commitment, so you take back some of the
discounts and other concessions you would otherwise have
awarded. This is a customer benefit because it treats
all customers in an evenhanded way. You wouldn't want
some other customer getting a bigger discount than you
are getting unless they earned it, would you?
C. OFFER A "WAY OUT."
There's little advantage in threatening
severe penalties if a customer doesn't live up to the letter
and the law of your T's & C's. Chances are you won't be
willing to risk the business relationship enough to apply
them. Better to offer palatable options that acknowledge
many transgressions are simple mistakes or bad luck. Try
offering a choice of options. It will help your customer
feel more empowered.
This is a test:
John cancels out of your public
course at the last minute because of a "family emergency."
Should your T's & C's: (a) require John to forfeit his entire
tuition no matter what; (b) insist on a notarized letter
of excuse from a physician or clergyman; (c) offer John
the choice of applying his tuition to another course over
the next 30 days or receiving an immediate 50% refund.
Acme Industries falls $20K short
of the $100K threshold they committed to in order to receive
a 30% discount because "expected hiring didn't take place."
Should your T's & C's: (a) require Acme to immediately purchase
$20K worth of training materials whether they need them
or not; (b) insist that Acme make up the entire difference
between what they paid and list price; (c) call for a court-appointed
auditor to verify Acme's hiring history; (d) allow Acme
the choice of a reduced discount based on actual purchase
volume or 3 additional months to achieve their original
D. DON'T USE INFLAMMATORY LANGUAGE.
"Violators will be prosecuted."
"Non compliance may lead to fines and penalties." Too many
training company T's & C's read like something out of an
IRS field agent manual.
Remember, you're dealing with Fortune
500 companies, not drug runners and money launderers. So
don't use loaded words like "violation" "breach" "willful
negligence" "misconduct" "infraction" "criminal activity"
"fine" "penalty" and "dereliction." Stick to words you'd
use in a friendly discussion.
E. ASSIGN RESPONSIBILITY FOR DRAFTING
YOUR T's & C's TO YOUR MARKETING DEPARTMENT.
Yes, by all means, solicit the collective
wisdom of all of your people in constructing your T's &
C's. Let all of the Cassandras and the tough-on- crime types
have their say. But assign the final cut to your best marketing
person and make sure they know you are looking for sales
promotion, not sales prevention. You'll be glad you did!