Business Attorney Orange County with Mark D. Holmes,

Business Attorney Mark D. Holmes - based in Newport Beach but serving all of Orange County & Los Angeles

Business Attorney Mark D. Holmes – based in Newport Beach but serving all of Orange County & Los Angele

Mark: Hi. My name is Mark Holmes; I’m the group Business Attorney. I’m going to talk to you about contracts today. Why am I going to talk to you about contracts today? Contracts are an integral part of your business. Everybody out here who has their own business is very good at what they do. You have this thing that you do that makes you money. You are making money in the context of what we call a social contract. If there wasn’t a social contract, you couldn’t do what you do. Business doesn’t exist in the wild, I’ll tell you that. It’s just too crazy.

Business Growth Innovators Member: It doesn’t exist in the wild.

Mark: You’d say, “Would you like to buy something?” No, they’d just kill you and take it. Marketing isn’t necessary in the wild. What you’re doing is in the context of a social contract. There are people in this room who unfortunately have to deal with the social contract every day. There’s about 4 of us. I happen to deal with the business side of the social contract. Everybody’s going, “What the hell is a social contract?”

Look around you. Everything that’s existing around you right now is part of the social contract. We have these agreements about how things are going to be. You may not think about them consciously, but they’re there. We have agreements, for instance, how we’re going to build buildings. Otherwise, buildings would just fall down willy-nilly, spontaneously, because somebody said, “No, I don’t want to build it that way,” so it’s going to fall down.

I handle the business part. I stand up here every week and I say, “Will you please come and drink some coffee with me, and we’ll talk?” Why do you think I want to talk to you about your business?

Business Growth Innovators Member: Protect it.

Mark: Yeah, that’s one reason.

Business Growth Innovators Member: Because you want our business.

Mark: I want to understand how your business works. I want to understand how you interact in the social contract. In other words, if you’re doing dry cleaning, if you’re constructing renovations, or if you’re selling insurance, I want to know how you do that, because if you tell me what you do, I can put it into the social contract that I understand, the business contract, and I can help you regulate that.

Everybody is familiar with written contracts; that’s where you have a piece of paper, and there are usually 2 signatures on it. At least we pray there are 2 signatures because there are at least 2 parties to the contract: Somebody who’s basically giving something and somebody who’s giving something back in return. That’s called an exchange. I’m very interested in putting those together. Why do you think that is?

Business Growth Innovators Member: To protect us.

Mark: It protects you, but it helps you do your business better. It helps you basically make more money at what you do; be more successful at what you do. How can you be more successful? You talked about protection, that’s one thing. You can make more money. That’s always better for your business, isn’t it? You can have more security, which is part of the protection package. Here’s another thing: You can have more credibility.

We’re all grownups now. I will tell you; one of the things that reflects poorly on people is when they don’t have a professional look, image, presentation. I’ll tell you; in certain contexts, if you don’t have a good looking contract, people look at you and say, “You’re not really professional.”

When I talk to you, I basically take what I learn about how you do your business and I insert it into contracts. There are all different kinds of contracts. One example is Pat will go into a house and he’ll say, “I’ll give you an estimate on how much it’s going to cost to clean up this hellacious mess you have.” That’s an estimate; that’s the beginning of the contract. You might also use something called a work order, which is sometimes an estimate, as well.

He might present them with an invoice, or he might actually have a contract; which if he’s going to do some work on the house in excess of $500, in the State of California, you need to have what they call a Home Improvement Contract subject to a statute. You might want to have that signed with all the proper clauses, notices, and so forth.

If you have the proper contract for your business, and you basically get the other party to sign it, you now have had an agreement within the context of the social contract as to how you’re going to do your business. It covers all kinds of cool things. What are important things when you have a contract that, as the business owner, you want to make sure are there?

Business Growth Innovators Member: Arbitration.

Mark: Somebody said it: How I’m going to get paid?

Business Growth Innovators Member: How much is it?

Business Growth Innovators Member: ‘Am I going to get paid?’ is a very important thing, and ‘How much am I going to get paid. When am I going to get paid? Do I get a deposit? Is there going to be a schedule that I get paid on? Am I going to get paid by the hour? Do I get paid when I leave the office and drive over to your place of business, your house, and then get paid again driving back?’ These things are important, aren’t they? Because you see, if you don’t have them written down and you don’t have them understood and agreed to, you have the opportunity for . . .

Business Growth Innovators Member: Litigation.

Mark: Litigation, disputes. Disputes are not good in business. Why? How many people get lots of repeat customers right after they have a dispute with them? Nobody. You’ve lost that customer. You guys know more than anybody else how much it costs to get a customer, get somebody to give you money. Because if you get them to give you money one time, they might give you money again. If it really works out, they’ll do it again, and again, and again.

Don’t you want to have your arrangements and your understanding with your customers really, really clear so they keep coming back again, and again, and again? Because they’re going to get the same thing, exactly what they expect, again, and again, and again. That’s what a contract is all about. When you come and drink coffee with me, that’s what I’m getting out of you. That’s what I can offer you. My background, I’ve talked about a little bit. I’ve done over 1,000 contracts.

That’s about one a week since I’ve been a lawyer. There are very few contracts that I have not done. Essentially because I am a hoarder, I keep all of them. Because I’m a little bit of a techno person, I put them on a computer so they’re in a form that I can call up. I have them indexed, I have them encycloped-ized. I just go find them.

Really, when I tell you I can do a contract for $900, I’m not kidding. I’ve got your contract already; we’re just going to sit down and we’re going to tailor it for you, exactly for you, so that you can be effective, comfortable, and successful with that contract. Maybe somebody else wouldn’t be successful with that particular contract, but you will be. Why? Because it’s fit to you, and it has all the bells and whistles that you need.

Dr. Valentine, may I help you? You got 2 minutes. I thought it was victory. I feel like I’m killing up here, brother.

Business Growth Innovators Member: It is victory.

Mark: Basically to wind up, the reason why I’m asking you to come and have coffee with me is to learn more about your business so I can make you more successful, so you can do better, so you can have repeat customers. You can say, “Damn. That was the best $900 investment I ever made in a contract.”

What is important about what I do? Do I just give you one contract for one customer and say, “That’s what you get?” No. I insist that I give you the form and I insist that I develop the contract so that it’s so easy, all you have to do is put in the customer. If you charge the same price every time, you don’t even have to put in the price. Just put in the customer’s name and get it signed, usually. You can use it over, and over, and over, and over, and over again. Is that a good idea?

If you use estimates, work orders, and invoices, do I give you all of those? Yes. Why? Because I want you to use all of them and I want you to try and get them all signed. Because I’ll tell you what the worst thing in the world is; not getting your contract signed. Why? Because you don’t have a contract. You can say you have a contract, but . . . our real estate person, Jean . . . isn’t it just an adventure? It’s actually hell listening to people tell you what they thought the contract was that they didn’t sign?

It’s like 2 people live on different galaxies. They are just talking to each other, like, “Really? I was there and I swear to God that didn’t happen.” If you write it down, later on, people can’t say that, because everybody’s going to say, “You may have been thinking that, but nobody else on the planet was.” That’s why I exhort to you, I beg you; please come in and spend some time with me. I can get you regulated. You’ll be a lot happier. You’ll spend a lot more time on your business making money. In the end, you’ll have a lot more customers. Thanks so much.

The Law Offices of Mark D. Holmes, APC specialize in the following areas of business law:

I offer free consultations; communicate often and in detail; accessible by email and cell phone; twenty years experience in business transactions and litigation; and I have actual business experience!
4 San Joaquin Plaza
Newport Beach, CA 92660