Module 12 – Legal Stuff
Alrighty, in this module I want to talk just briefly about the legal stuff. I know this topic isn’t sexy but I think it matters. It’s definitely an area of your business that you’ll need to take into consideration. I’m certainly not going to sit here and give you legal advice, I’m not a solicitor. I’m definitely not a lawyer, you need to take into account your own business and the way you operate, figure out how you want your business to work and things you need to take into consideration to prevent yourself from ending up in court or finding some sort of nasty on-going legal battle.
But lets jump into it and I want to just share my thoughts on a couple of things that I think are worth mentioning. But you’ll definitely want to in terms of the legal aspects, service agreements, contracts and everything else, you’ll definitely need to get professional advice with that.
Having said all of that our first slide here is pay as you go or lock in contracts. This is something that I’m kind of always going between the two like pay as you go. By pay as you go, lock in contracts I’m talking about signing clients up as to whether or not they pay month to month as they go without a contract or a contract where you sign them up and you lock them in for a six or a 12 month contract.
Over here in Australia there’s a lot of shitty SEO agencies that are locking business owners into contracts that they can’t get out of. Once they’re signed, it’s really, really difficult to try and fight your way out of that. Some SEO agencies are renown for locking business owners into these shitty contracts, charging them $900 bucks a month, zapping credit cards. I’ve heard all sorts of horror stories and almost every day I pick up the phone and it’s someone on the other end saying oh I’m working with this agency in Sydney and they keep hitting my credit card for the $700 a month. How do I get out of this, it’s not working and I can’t afford it, blah, blah, blah. It’s just an absolute mess.
Look as for whether or not you want to lock your clients into lock in contracts, that’s entirely up to you. Both have pros and cons. Myself personally, I’m a big fan of pay as you go and I think I’ve managed to sign a lot of clients up simply because of that fact. I just say to them when I’m pitching for the job and presenting my sales presentation, look no lock in contracts with me, you pay as you go, you’re not happy, you’re quite welcome to leave, it’s as simple as that. I think that’s a real attraction. Especially for business owners that have been burnt elsewhere, locked into shitty contracts.
On the other hand, I guess lock in contracts give you stability in terms of income. You know that a business owner isn’t going to cancel out. You’ve got that revenue that’s coming in for the next six or 12 months. Again, it’s a personal decision, it’s personal preference. For me again, I prefer pay as you go, it’s just a preference that I have.
However, I have had some campaigns where the business owner has stuck around for three months and then cancelled out. That can be a real nuisance, in fact that’s something I probably should mention in this video. You know you get someone on the phone and this comes back to pre qualifying, you get someone on the phone and say oh look if we’re not getting results in three months then we’re going to cancel. You know I turn those people away because I know that for the most part you’re looking at a lot of the campaigns that I run you might be looking at 12 months, 18 months. At least eight to 10 months in easy markets. I can’t turn someone’s business around in three months.
So the pay as you go thing works well for me, if I get someone on the phone that says look we’re going to do three months then I just turn them away. I save myself that annoyance of someone cancelling out. That all comes back to pre qualifying and educating the client and setting expectation levels which we’ll get into later on. But for now, you’ll need to make that decision, pay as you go or lock in contracts.
Service agreements. Okay, now if you are going to implement lock in contracts then you’re going to have some paperwork ahead of you. You’ll have to seek assistance of the right people, work with professionals to draw these contracts up for you. I do have some free documents, contract templates and so forth available on my site. Use those things with caution, they’re not a one size fits all solution. If you’re going to be signing people up for $2,000, $3,000 a month you better make sure they’re right. I provide those templates as a bit of a starting point for people. So feel free to download those, have a look, send them off to someone. Have them adjusted or have your own contracts drawn up.
In terms of service agreements, this is a weird one for me, I haven’t always implemented service agreements, this is just to say if things go pear shaped I’m going to be doing everything I can at my end to try and get you the results but with SEO and this is what makes SEO a challenge, you’re not in control of how Google’s algorithm works. That can change at any given time and let’s face it, it has. Anything could potentially happen. This is why again, I focus on things that I have more control over like content and conversions because I can make simple changes to a site in order to increase customer inquiries and sales without having to worry too much about what Google’s doing.
In any case, service agreements, if you intend on having people sign these things and getting them in place just make sure that you get the assistance of someone that works in the legal space that can point in the right direction.
Okay, pausing and cancelling campaigns. This is I guess one up side of pay as you go, I work with a lot of businesses that pause their campaigns over Christmas, it might be through December or something like that. I’ve actually worked with a couple of business owners that have had to undergo surgery and they’ve been out of action for a couple of weeks and they’ve paused their campaign for a month and they’ve come back.
I’ve worked with a couple of start up businesses who in the process of occasionally being short on funds and they’ve had to pause and come back. I don’t mind giving that level of flexibility. Of course I’ve had on the other hand, I’ve had clients that are constantly pausing and for those ones I usually say look it may be best if you find someone else to work with.
But in terms of cancelling campaigns, if you’ve got a contract in place that can get a little bit tricky. It’s something that I could sit here and talk about for an hour but you really have to have a think about how you want your business to run. For myself personally, I know that simply by providing a high quality service I very, very rarely have people cancel their campaigns because they’re unhappy, that just doesn’t happen.
In fact, I make a point of asking every single, at the end of every month, end of month strategy calls with my clients, I say are you happy with everything? Is there anything that I could be doing better or I could improve on? No John everything’s fantastic thank you so much.
But every now and then shit happens, I’ve had great clients that have decided to cancel and have the business owner’s brother-in-law do their SEO or something silly like that. Again, you know the pay as you go thing works for me because sometimes it’s me that wants to get rid of the client, not the other way around.
Lastly seeking professional advice. If you’re going to lock people into 12 month contracts you’re going to have them signing agreements and what not, always best to seek professional advice and make sure you get that documentation in place. Make sure that you cover yourself. I’m definitely not giving anyone any sort of legal advice here. I’ve never had any problems in terms of being threatened with huge lawsuits or massive refund requests or anything else.
But all I can say is yeah, if you intend on getting that documentation in place, get yourself some solid legal advice.