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Common business disputes and how to quickly and inexpensively resolve them

If your business is engaged in a dispute, you are not alone — and support is available. We have compiled a list of some of the most common small business issues, as well as ways to resolve them.

Contractual disputes

A classic example of a contractual conflict is when you have paid in advance for services that you have yet to get, such as website design. You may have spent a significant amount of time and effort hunting down a supplier – or a client – who has failed to meet the terms of their contract. 

Whether you are the supplier or the client, and whether it is a simple assignment or a major project, it is critical to agree on the scope of a contract before you begin the project. Get everything in writing before the job begins, even if it involves going back and forth a few times to ensure that everything is properly stated in the contract.

A contractual issue can be resolved in three ways, according to the law firm Lynn & Brown Lawyers:

Informal negotiation: Attempting to resolve the problem through talk is frequently the cheapest and easiest option. 

Arbitration and mediation: If informal negotiations fail, another alternative for resolving the conflict is mediation or arbitration. It is a method of obtaining an agreement that is usually less expensive and faster than going to court. An independent mediator will aid in reaching an agreement that is in the best interests of both parties.

Although mediation is not a legally binding process, the resulting agreement can be enforced if necessary. 

The courts: Before going to court, carefully examine whether the issue is worth the damage it could bring to your relationship with the other person. Furthermore, this approach might be costly and time-consuming. 

When you see your lawyer for legal assistance on a contractual dispute, you must bring the following documents with you:

  • The contract in dispute
  • Any documents that are referred to in the contract
  • Transaction evidence: bank statements, receipts, invoices
  • Correspondence between parties or third parties relating to the contract or the dispute
  • Evidence of any damages you claim to have suffered as a result of the dispute.

Product, pricing or customer disputes

As the cost-of-living crisis worsens, so will the number of price-related complaints. Price cuts aren’t always possible. So, how can businesses respond in a way that improves the customer experience? 

If you own a franchise, your franchisor may have devised an offer that requires you to sell certain products at a loss. Or maybe a dissatisfied customer wants a refund but you’re not sure who’s to blame.

One of the rules of retail is that the customer is always correct — even if they are technically incorrect. Because your customers are the reason you’re in business, it’s critical that you listen to them when they have a complaint. And those complaints come in all shapes and sizes in every industry.

According to Shopify, there are some ways to handle complaints as efficiently and tactfully as possible. There are numerous software solutions available to help track, organise, and resolve customer complaints while also increasing the productivity of employees who deal with customers directly.

Among the software options are: 

Zendesk: Uber, Groupon, Box, Airbnb, and Disney all use Zendesk. The tool aims to reduce support costs, resolve customer issues across channels, and ultimately increase customer satisfaction. 

Kadabat: This application assists retailers in creating workflows to automate complaint management. 

FreshDesk: Track and manage customer complaints received via phone, email, chat, Twitter, and Facebook, as well as your mobile app.

Finally, running a business can involve dealing with challenges you’ve never encountered before – and it’s worthwhile to seek advice from small business experts when you need it.

Debt collection disputes

If you are having difficulty getting an invoice paid, it may result in a disagreement between you and your client or customer. If you supply goods or services without receiving upfront payment – for example, if you work from home as a freelancer or solo entrepreneur – this can be a common dispute. 

According to marketfinance.com, there are two ways to avoid/resolve payment delays:

Prompt invoicing: Anything that slows or distracts the payment process could cause serious issues. The importance of organisation cannot be overstated, as can the importance of including the correct payment terms on invoices.

The sooner the billing department generates and sends invoices to customers after a product or service is delivered, the sooner payment is received.

Electronic invoicing and payment tools can help to accelerate the payment process even further.

Invoicing errors: Errors in invoices are a common cause of long payment cycles. Quoted prices may not match master data, and invoices may lack the crucial purchase order number, resulting in an invalidated invoice that the customer may dispute. 

Immediately pursuing payments: You obviously need to be paid for the service/product you provided, so make sure to respond quickly and efficiently if a payment is late.

Remember that heavy-handed collection and enforcement efforts (especially by third parties) can often backfire on your relationship with your client, so be mindful of your late payment terms.

If you need support, contact our free business advisory or dispute resolution services. There is a range of business disputes we can help with and we can help in situations where you are having trouble communicating with the other party.

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Yajush Gupta

Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

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