Effective Agreements worked with a company, revising their Master Sales Contract template. The client readily admitted that the current template was a contract the vice president of business development had brought over from a company where he was previously employed. (Note: although we are not attorneys, we recognized there might be copyright and confidentiality issues. We pushed the company to involve legal counsel.) After covering
most of the issues in drafting a new contract template, we noticed a provision that all maintenance and repair would be provided according to the company’s “written Maintenance and Repair Policy.” Of course, when we asked if the company had any such document, the answer was “no.”
This missing document caused significant consternation.
In the first place, the contract template had been used with customers for some time before Effective Agreements was brought in. That meant that a lengthy policy had to be written quickly, before a customer had a repair issue. Writing such a document is not a simple task. A combination of technical knowledge, writing skills, and business acumen are required. Effective Agreements could oversee the project and examine the final product for clarity, but a technical writer had to do most of the drafting. It was also necessary to determine how the maintenance process would actually work, which meant pulling engineers off their current assignments to be interviewed. The head of engineering was loath to have his people diverted to create a document. But even that was not the biggest issue.
The client’s management had never tackled the key question of whether the maintenance program would be a cost center or a money maker. The need for the written policy made this decision urgent. Effective Agreements aided the company in crafting a tiered level of support with appropriate pricing for each tier. That made the maintenance and repair document more complex, adding to the time needed to draft it, but changing a cost center into a new source of income for the company.
The lessons are obvious:
- Do not use a contract from a previous company as your master sales contract template
- Make sure what any documents referenced in your master sales agreement actually exists
- Have written maintenance and repair policy, drafted so the service will be a profit, and not a cost, center.