How to keep disputes with customers, suppliers, and employees from sidetracking your business
This brown bag brought Allan and Jim Kass from the Santa Cruz Mediation Group to NextSpace to talk about how to solve client or partner relationships that may get in the way of running your business.
Is a current issue with a customer or supplier worrying you? Have you communicated the problem? What was their response? If the response is negative, instead of suing your client or business partner, you may want to take your case to a mediator.
Mediators step in to help save your client/customer or business partner relationships so that you can continue to run your business successfully. What possible issues could come in the way of these valuable and profitable relationships? A few examples include: billing or invoice disagreements, unclear/vague contracts, performance deficiencies, and miscommunication.
Allan and Jim Kass explain the difference between arbitration and mediation. A binding arbitration may require that you enter a binding agreement, which you may have been obligated to agree with as a result of choosing an arbitrator at a time when neither you nor your client were able to come up with a decision. In addition, you may not have a right to appeal the contract. It may be possible, according to the outcome, that a relationship with a client, employee, or partner would not survive. Finally, the cost of the ordeal is going to take a while to recover from.
An alternate dispute resolution method is mediation. As opposed to arbitration, costs are reduced, the final agreement may be more beneficial, and your mediator wasn’t there to impose or obligate you to agree to their decision. Mediators set up a framework for you and your business partner, client, or supplier, to come up with a solution to which you both agreed. In the end, both parties split the cost of the mediation services half way, and both parties walk out with the feeling that each received a fair deal.
Allan and Jim Kass stress the importance of settling a dispute early on rather than later; when you and your client may already be feeling animosity toward each other. Solving disputes early may result in the least amount of staff time (if the issue requires your staff serve as witness), and may also contain negative PR.