In a recent blog post, we discussed why we hate contracts, but the reality is that in order to do business, you’re going to get stuck in some contracts with vendors whether you like it or not. Many contracts have auto-renewal clauses, expiring introductory discounts, and complex or excessive notification processes required for cancellation. Don’t let your contracts get away from you.
Staying on top of those contracts is critical to avoiding them spiraling out of control and consuming your business.
Tips for Managing Vendor Contracts
1. Read the fine print.
Okay, maybe not all of the fine print, but be sure you familiarize yourself with the procedure required to renew or cancel the contract.
- Does it auto-renew?
- Do you have to contact them for renewal or risk automatic cancellation and service disruption?
- Do they require 30 (or even 60) days’ notice to cancel?
- When will you be charged? Monthly? Quarterly? On the renewal date? Before?
All of these are important questions to find the answers to, and once you do, be sure you make notes somewhere that will be easy for you to locate months or years from now when they’re needed.
2. Mark your calendar.
Even if you are in love with the service you just signed up for, make yourself a notification about the end date of the contract and the deadline for cancelling. While you may love the product or service today (in the “honeymoon phase” of the purchase), you may find flaws down the road that cause you to want to change providers.
We recommend setting a reminder in your calendar software of choice, be it Google Calendar, Apple Calendar, Outlook, or even a free application such as Any.do. You may even want to set it a week early, so you are reminded with plenty of time to think it over before you have to act on keeping or cancelling the service.
3. Do your research and keep your notes.
Surely you’ve done lots of research on potential alternatives before you finally decide to sign on the dotted line. Save that research! This will save you time when the contract nears expiration and you’re trying to decide if there might be a better alternative service out there for you.
4. Know the ramifications of additional purchases or service changes.
During the course of your contract, you may encounter a situation where you want to add a service, remove a service, change the way the service is delivered, etc. Before you commit to any such change, be sure you ask the provider how this impacts your existing contract. You may be surprised to find that even a small change could lead to the contract being extended 12 months (or more!) from the date of that change. You may decide that you’d rather find a more suitable provider when the current contract expires rather than getting locked in to something that doesn’t exactly fit your needs.
No Contract Fleet Tracking
Making decisions on contracts is challenging no matter how big or small your business. That’s why we don’t require our fleet tracking customers to sign contracts – running your business is tough enough already. We want you to have the freedom to run your company your way, and the flexibility to make quick changes when you need them.