Spring Cleaning (For Your Business)

Is it really Spring yet? In Wisconsin, Spring is a state of mind and a hope for the future. So, Happy Spring! Now is a great time to think about the changes, updates and innovations needed in your business to ensure continued success. This is a short post discussing a few simple things to think about so your business is successful and legal issue free in 2019!

1) Review Current Agreements with Vendors.

What current agreements does the Company have with outside vendors? This might include phone, internet, trash pickup, cleaning services, Xerox machines, etc. Review the current agreements with an eye towards getting a better deal (maybe the Company has been paying the same price for Internet for 10 years!!).

Additionally, if there are self-renewing (sometimes called “evergreen”) contracts between the Company and outside vendors, start keeping track of the renewal dates! Wisconsin has made it harder to enforce self renewing contracts, but many savvy vendors are in compliance with the new rules and won’t back down from an auto-renew. Make a quick chart of when the contract is set to renew and when the notice of non-renewal has to be sent in. It might take a few hours but better to spend the time now – rather than spend money later paying me!

2) Review and Update Banking Information.

Does the business bank account that the Company is using charge fees? Has a fee been charged in the last 6 months to a year? If there was a fee, why\when did it occur? Can it be avoided in the future? Sometimes fees are a cost of doing business (read – credit card merchant fees), but banking fees are not. If the Company is incurring bank fees, it’s not good for business, and steps should be taken to avoid them. Usually, the bank is pretty helpful in explaining and remedying the issue, but if not, there are a lot of options out there.

Who can sign checks on behalf of the Company (according to the Bank’s records)? Are the people listed on the signature card current? If not, update it immediately! Then, work on developing a system to notify the bank of any future changes in a timely manner.

3) Review Customer Lists and E-Mail Marketing Compliance.

If the Company uses mass e-mails to reach customers, how is compliance with CAN-SPAM and similar regulations tracked? Do the e-mails allow someone to unsubscribe from the mailing list? Do the e-mails indicate who was sending the message?

I came from the world of software sales prior to law – and let me tell you – I am a Microsoft mail merge ninja. If you are still using ol’ mail merge, though, I bet a lot of those e-mails don’t comply with the law. If e-mail campaigns are part of your marketing mix, take a second to think about how your e-mails are sent. If you have an Excel customer database, consider shifting to something like MailChimp or ConstantContact which will help you comply with the law and keep track of who unsubscribes. MailChimp also offers free options, which is very nice.

4) Review Employment Agreements and Onboarding Procedures.

When was the last time you reviewed the Company’s employment agreements? Has every employee signed one? What about hiring – when was the last time the Company’s hiring and onboarding process was reviewed?

Take time this Spring to review and tighten up the Company’s employment agreements. Ensure that the agreements are in line with the actual job duties of the employee and review the compensation structure of the entire staff to make sure it will comply with the upcoming Department of Labor rule changes in regard to wages and overtime! (Big changes are coming! They will have an impact on a ton of small businesses: https://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-trump-overtime-rules-20190307-story.html)

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