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Tuesday, April 14, 2015


Steve Cole's thoughts on business in America.

1. If the only source of information about something is the guy trying to sell it to you, stop and check somewhere else.

2. If a salesman you do not know says that the contract has to be signed today, and you cannot have until tomorrow to think about it, tell him "no thanks."

3. Never, ever, sign a contract with a person or company until you have spent 10 minutes trying to find them on Google.

4. A major hailstorm will damage every roof in town, resulting in an influx of out-of-town roofing contractors. Deal with the established in-town contractors because you will be able find them a year later when the roof leaks.

5. If a contractor you have never dealt with offers to repair the damage for less than the insurance settlement, leaving you with cash in your pocket, find another contractor. If on the other hand he offers to do the job for the exact number on the insurance adjuster report, make sure he didn't leave off some expensive item that really needs to be fixed.

6. If you have some service contractor who has raised your rate every year, call him up and say you are a new customer and ask him what his rate is. If it's lower than you are paying, demand that your rate be reduced to that number.

7. If someone you have a contract with says that the contract must now be modified (in his favor) because of new government regulations, check things out first. Ask friends who also use this contractor and friends who use another contractor, ask the government, run the situation past Google, and insist on time to look into it. If the contractor continues to insist in your acceptance of a contract modification in his favor, tell him you will have to rebid the entire contract and are getting quotes from his competitors.

8. If you sell a major asset to someone you don't know (at least not very well) in exchange for future payments, figure out what happens if he doesn't pay. Does he have anything the courts can seize for you to pay the bill? If he offers you collateral (say a piece of real estate) get an attorney and a title company to file a lien on the collateral and find out if the buyer actually owns the property, if it is worth the amount you will be owed, and does it already have liens from someone else?

9. Someone asks to borrow money from you saying that he is good for the debt because he has some asset, tell him to bring the asset to you for safe keeping (and make sure it is actually his asset) before loaning the money, and by all means, put everything in writing and make him sign it. And seriously, are you a bank? Why are you loaning money to flaky people? For that matter, why are you loaning money to anyone who isn't a blood relative. (If they're good for the money, a bank or credit card company will make the loan.)

10. Never sign a contract for something you weren't looking for on the day it was presented to you by a high-pressure salesman you have never met before.