Your long-term clients can have a complex history over the course of numerous contract renewals and multiple years with your business. While it’s essential to organize all of your contracts (and we have an in-depth guide for creating strong contract records here), renewing clients need extra attention. Those long-term clients are often more valuable to your business than new clients. They tend to spend more money, have a deeper trust in your business, and recommend that more clients come to your doors when you can offer valuable services to them.
They may also have a long history of changing contract terms over the course of those renewals. Their business has grown and changed. Your business has grown and changed. Also, your industry may even have undergone substantial shifts throughout the contract life cycle. As a result, you may need a unique strategy for keeping up with those changes in contract terms.
1. Make sure that both you and the client are clear on the terms of the latest contract.
Carefully highlight any changes to your current contract, especially changes made late in the approval process. Trigger reminders in your contract management system to help you meet important obligations. Make sure that you highlight changes made by your business — changed payment terms or new services, for example — as well as any changes made by your clients.
2. Keep up with the previous versions of the contract.
Sometimes, either you or a client may want to revert to the terms of a previous contract. You might want to borrow language from a prior version of the contract. Alternatively, your client might want to renew services from a previous contract cycle that were contracted as you moved into this one. With the extensive storage available in our contract management system, you can easily keep track of all of these previous versions of a contract. This includes the version that you and the client finally signed and the versions you went through during negotiation.
Our contract management software also allows for clear version control. That means that when you pull up a client contract, you’ll always pull up the latest version of the contract. You don’t want to accidentally pull up an old contract, especially if you or the client have made dramatic changes to the current incarnation of that contract. Then, you may find yourself substantially over- or under-delivering. That might include delivering services no longer included in a specific contract or missing services that have been added to the newest incarnation of the contract renewals. With clear version control, you can more easily avoid these errors.
3. Highlight changes in compliance regulations.
Compliance regulations across a wide range of industries can change dramatically over the course of your relationship with a given client. You must maintain appropriate security for all your clients. That includes payment compliance and security. You may also need to maintain HIPAA compliance or keep up with OSHA standards, depending on your industry. Those requirements can all change substantially from year to year.
It’s important to note those changes within your contracts, ensuring that both you and your client or vendor remain in compliance. But you should also highlight them to ensure that the parties responsible for implementing those regulatory changes meet their obligations. By highlighting those differences, you can also make it easy to answer any questions a client or vendor might have about changing requirements.
4. Trigger reminders within your system, where needed.
It’s easy to lose track of your long-term clients’ contract renewals. You likely have staff in place to take care of their needs. But you may easily lose track of some of the details of managing that specific project. If this is a project you have dealt with long-term, you may forget that you need to have specific approvals or signatures. It’s especially easy to forget if the client doesn’t stay on top of things on their end. Stay on top of deadlines to help maintain that great relationship with your client and ensure that you have time to handle your contractual responsibilities.
5. Don’t forget reminders for your contract renewals.
Is a long-term client’s contract is up for renewal? Make sure you have adequate time to review the contract. Legacy contracts can contain terms that are no longer suitable for your business’s needs. Not only that, you want your client or vendor to have time to review the contract. They need to be sure that it’s meeting their needs, too. Starting that conversation early strengthens the business relationship.
When you have a complex, long-term relationship with a client or vendor, you want to maintain that relationship. Effective contract management, including these five key steps, can make it easier to keep up with those contracts. Also, it will help stop your team from missing out on any important details. This doesn’t just help keep your relationship with that client. It also prevents you from lapsing in any contractual or legal obligations. Schedule a 1:1 demo to learn more about how ContraxAware can help you manage your contract renewals year after year.