In this COVID environment, small business is at even greater risk than what we previously thought of as normal. Those days are becoming a distant memory. For those small businesses that have managed to survive the shutdowns and lockdowns and are trying to recover under the restrictions on capacity, spacing and specific new hygiene requirements, the challenge is greater than ever to generate the volume and revenue to cover the expenses.
One of the “new” areas to be especially attentive to is contracts for new services or products the small business is required to purchase, maintain and direct the customers and employees to use. If these new products and services are coming from existing suppliers under existing contracts, the business owner has, at least, the comfort that it is an existing contract and the relationship between you and the supplier has not changed.
The risk, however, is in new contracts with new suppliers or vendors. We have unfortunately seen opportunists jump into the marketplace with “solutions.” And, it seems that the internet is the marketplace for hucksters of all sorts of things.
We strongly recommend sticking with tried and true vendors that you have long standing business relationships with. When that is not possible, the business owner must return to basic business principles: check vendors credentials with the Better Business Bureau, get at least three bids, and carefully review the proposed contract.
Be very careful of the internet. Many of us have come to rely on the instant response to most every question we post on the internet despite being repeatedly warned about scams and outright fraud. As to sources of products and services, check the credentials not just with the Better Business Bureau but with any licensing board that issues licenses to bidders. ‘Pop-up” businesses will often use form contracts they find on the internet. Like anything else found on the internet, be wary.
The best course of action is to have any contract that could affect your business reviewed by an attorney, and that certainly applies to any new contracts that arise in this new COVID era.