Welcome to the show, everyone. I am so excited! I can’t believe that it is October already; it is flying by. We’re live on Facebook! So I want to say hi to everybody out there. Like us and follow us. We’ll share the show later on. And listen, this is really fun to do for my 15-year anniversary, which is this year that I’ve been celebrating, and I’m excited about that. That I want everybody that can, don’t do this if you’re driving, but go up onto Facebook and put in Networking Arizona and watch us in here doing the show live right now. It’s really, really fun to do. I’m going to go in with my first guest, Richie Edwards, and he is an attorney with FR Law Group. We just heard your ad. Tell us a little bit about FR Law Group. What makes them different? And then what we’re going to talk about today?
Yeah, well, the FR Law Group, we think we’re different because we have a national level of experience and a small, what I might call a boutique law firm, so we can really give personalized attention, personalized advice, and really spend time getting to know our clients. I think, more importantly, our client’s goals and what their needs are specifically in their business. Then we’re backed by the experience of our partners who have practiced all over the country.
.. all over the country. It’s like you have the big guns behind you. They’ve made it so that the small businesses, small to medium-sized businesses, who all needed attorneys, you know. And you never know when you’re going to need one too. What are we going to talk about today?
So, it’s been a while since we’ve been on. So I wanted to go over some of the issues that we’re seeing right now facing small to medium-sized businesses, as I think it’s a convergence of a couple of things. It’s still coming back from COVID; things aren’t back to normal, even if we’re back to normal. The economy’s doing what it’s doing and going, right? So there are a lot of things that are happening right now. As we’re seeing the clients that we represent, people that come to talk to us and ask us for advice, there are a few things right now that very seem to be top of mind for everybody and things that are really affecting businesses in the community.
Well, COVID really did hit a lot of businesses. Oh my gosh, especially since we had talked about some people, before you even came on, about people who had now started working at home, and we talked a bit about what that looked like for them. Now that the business wants you back on the job in your offices at work, what do you see is happening?
Right, so what we’re seeing happening is that, for a variety of reasons, businesses want people back in the office. Whether it’s full-time, half-time, or some sort of hybrid schedule, they prefer to have people in the office for many reasons. Well, the problems that we see them running into now are that their employees have, in many cases, worked from home successfully for two and a half years. Right? And when you want to bring it back to the office, and the employees have gotten used to not paying for gas, not dealing with the commute, you know, cooking lunch at home on their break..
It’s a lot of fun work. It’s not easy when the mailman comes in the door and all that, but it’s..
It can be great, and it can be very flexible. On the other hand, businesses obviously want people in offices for great reasons to go collaboration, creativity, and the fact that it helps businesses to be there. What we’re seeing people run into is they want to bring their employees back, and the employees are pushing back and saying, “Well, wait a minute, how?” And there are even some cases where they’re running into employees refusing to come back. Now, businesses are faced with this insubordination. “And what do we do? Do we allow them to work from home? Do we fire them?” And what causes problems is when a business doesn’t have a really strong policy, a handbook, and not only that strong and that’s written, but that its employees know about. They’ve acknowledged when they were hired and when it changed. So then, you can just easily say, “Look, we understand you like working from home. We might be able to work with you. But here’s our policy; it’s on page 65, or page five.” Which is really for a smaller business, right? It might not be that long. “And this paragraph says you have to come back and work in the office.”
But what I have to ask you, though, is that a lot of people say, “Well, I had a handbook, but it was written before COVID was ever invented.” What then?
Sure. Well, what then is a great question, and it will really depend on what the language is in the handbook and what the situation is. Because there are going to be situations where you might not be able to enforce an employee back; if they have a disability, or there’s a reason that working from home is better for them. But in a lot of instances, even if the handbook predates COVID, you can update it, have the employees acknowledge it and be fine. However, even if it predates it, they’ve still agreed to those terms. And now that businesses are back, right, some of those things that kept people at home aren’t necessarily doing that any more.
Well, I’ll tell you something, when we were now dealing with the effects of COVID, which is what you’re saying, one of these threats of legal action and its impact on a business. Well, that’s huge right there, right? I mean, because if you can’t hire the person or you have to, maybe you have to hire the person back, maybe you don’t want that person back no matter what, but then you have to go hire somebody. And a lot of people are having trouble with that, too, now.
Right? We’re having trouble hiring, hiring back, and having trouble with the finances. We’ve obviously talked before about having trouble with suppliers. And I was reading an article today from the Small Business Administration, and keep in mind as I say this, they define a small business as 500 employees or less, so they’re talking about some businesses. Now it was large, but less so that it could be a sole proprietorship to a big business. But they say that in a given year, 53% of small businesses are involved in a lawsuit, and 43% of those who aren’t involved face the threat of legal action, so we add those numbers up to 96%. In some way or another, 96% of businesses will deal with either litigation or the threat of litigation, and they say that lawsuits cost between $3,000 and $150,000. I’ll tell you, we think we do things very efficiently and economically at the FR Law Group. We’re not going to be able to defend your lawsuit for $3,000, not even close. It’s just too expensive. So the threat of legal action is big, you know, on the balance sheet for a lot of businesses, and it’s something to really think about because a big lawsuit can ruin a small business if they’re not prepared for it.
Absolutely, if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. And I had something silly; it was nothing. But it wasn’t something that we were, nothing happened, it was fine. It worked out fine. But like I said, I’m the sole proprietor, right? And you know, you just never know when something can happen. When you’re in business, the longer you’re in business, you know, the more something could really happen. And you want to be prepared. You want to make sure that you have somebody on your side. The FR Law Group are the people to call; their number is 602-566-7425. They do free consultations, you work nationwide; you’re right here, though, right in the valley. So that’s what’s really nice about them is that they’re here, they can do a consultation with you, and you can find out if you need them. You never know. You should write this number down and put it on your phone, you know, because, you know, like I said, you never know when it’s going to happen. So they’ll be there to, you know, help you. That’s 602-566-7425. It’s frlawgroup.com for their website. We’re going to go now to perform or receive performance work without a contract. How many people don’t have a contract, though?
A lot more than expected. You have your suppliers or someone just doing a day’s worth of work for you or buying for you. We recently had a client with a usual supplier, a usual contractor, who does some work for him but couldn’t do it and said, “Hey, why don’t you do it, you know. This other person, I know they’re free. They can do it.” Okay, our client thought, well, they’re going to do it for the usual price that I have with the other guy. After about a month and a half, they got the invoice, which was triple the usual price. They had a big fight about it. And at the end of the day, unfortunately, we had to tell our client, “You’re probably just going to have to pay the higher invoice because the problem here now is you don’t have a contract for the lower amount. If they sue you, you’re probably going to lose because the law looks at it like this. Well, you received the benefit of their contract, and who better to set the price than the person who did the work, who runs the business?” That was an unfortunate situation where the client didn’t come to us early enough. Didn’t know if they received it, and now you know, they lost money on the job because they had to pay triple what they were expecting to pay. It happens a lot more often than you think.
So do you help businesses? Small, medium, or large? I don’t know. But with doing those things, some people do not have those in place. Can they call you and talk to you and have you help them do that? [Absolutely]. That’s what I want to know.
One of the things that we do is what we call “Outside General Counsel Services.” We know a lot of small and medium-sized businesses. They don’t have a legal department that they’re paying full-time, but they can hire us to act when they need us. “Hey, review contracts. Let’s talk about this deal. We’re thinking about the supplier. Maybe we have an employee problem. Maybe we want to purchase a new building or enter into a new lease.” We do all of their things along the way. So to set them up to hopefully never have to litigate, but if they do, they’re in a very strong position when that comes.
That’s what it’s important when you write when you hear this kind of information. A lot of us have businesses that we have not taken care of; the small little things that we need to really make sure are covered. It helps us. You can call them and put this phone number in your phone at 602-566-7425. We’re going to go on a break when we come back, we’re going to talk further.
So we’re going to keep on talking. I do want to make sure everything is working on my end here. Would you also say, when somebody is to come to you, then honestly they don’t necessarily have a problem. It could be, “Help me, make sure I don’t end up with a problem.” Let’s talk about that.
That’s exactly right. So I tell people, and it’s sometimes hard to tell people, that you’re going to pay us when you have a problem, but pay us before then. The way I tell people is, “Look, if you come to us for the very first time you have a problem, we can help you. But it’s going to be very expensive because we’re there, it’s like anything, if you do it last minute it’s normally going to be more expensive and you can’t guarantee the best result. On the other hand, if you come to us right from the beginning. We can set things up; we can count so; we can draft contracts; we can review contracts from other side; we can look at your leases; we can help you if you want to make a big purchase on you know maybe buy another business, or do things; and what we do is we try to set it up so that if litigation comes then you’re really in a strong position, and we can avoid it. A lot of litigation can be avoided if we do some work in the front.
But somebody would say, “Why go to an attorney for that?” Right, but why do you say that?
Well, I’m not sure, frankly. That there’s somebody, even Google, that can write a better contract than we can.
Welcome back. We’ve been talking about contracts, you know, during the break. And it was interesting. I love this. Because I asked you, why go to an attorney to write a contract? You know, people think of going to an attorney when something goes wrong. Is that it? What was your answer?
Well, my answer was that I don’t think there’s anybody that can write it as well as we can. Our firm, specifically, I talked about at the very beginning, is that we’re small enough that we try to really have a personal relationship with our clients. We get to know you; we get to know your business and what your goals are, and that informs our contract even more than if you went to another attorney. Especially if you went to Google, I was telling you a story about the person that had, you know, three times as many paragraphs and pages in the contract as they needed. It wasn’t really tailored to their needs; then we can tailor it to your needs. So, you don’t have any of the extras and you have everything you need right there. Then it’s really easy for you to go back and refer to it, you know, remember what’s going on.
You had said that you could look over something and, let’s say, spend half an hour looking at it and it might be fine, right? But if you want just a little bit better to be more geared toward you, tailored toward you and your attorney, when you work with them, they’re looking out for you. That’s their job, and they think of the things that could happen. That’s what’s really good about you, too, is that you’re thinking about all those things that could go wrong. You’re helping them so that, god forbid, in the future, nothing happens. I implore anyone who’s starting a business to give them a call. If you are already in business – if you think you already have contracts, have them look at it because you know what your contract may need to be updated. For sure, their phone number is 602-566-7425. They do free consultations. They’re located right here in Phoenix, but they work nationwide. Check them out on their website. It is frlawgroup.com. Now let’s go back over here. All right, what is WFH? I’m sure it’s something easy. What is it?
That was Work From Home.
Work From Home. See, I knew we already. Let’s go on, anybody does that. I hate it when they do that to me. Go ahead.
Let’s go, we’re just talking about contracts. I think we’ll skip a point. Let’s go to the contractor versus employee issue. Right. So a lot of us see, at least small medium sized businesses, they don’t use employees, at least when they’re starting. They use contractors, independent contractors, people that are doing some work for them, some work for somebody else. Well, generally, what we see is that business is starting and they think, okay. I have heard somewhere that there’s a difference between an employee and an independent contractor. So let me Google what the difference is, and I’ll Google a quick contract, and I’ll write it. Then we, most of the time, review those contracts. Inevitably, we see that it’s really an employee, the way it’s going to go. Because whether someone is performing work for you as an independent contractor or an employee doesn’t depend on what you call them.
You know, it’s interesting that you’re bringing this up. A lot of people like to hire people and call them independent contractors, because they’re not paying them on an hourly basis now. Right? And I think there are other things, obviously, that they don’t have to pay for when they do that.
Right. Yeah, sure. You get a lot of different tax treatment, right for what you’re paying. There are different state fees. It can depend on the size of your business dealing with insurance and whether you have to provide insurance or not. It’s typically cheaper, and much better for business, to have an independent contractor, if it’s feasible for your type of business.
But you should have a contract.
Sure. Make sure, right. And that makes them an independent contractor, because you can even have a contract, right? They’re an independent contractor. They agree that they are not employees. Well, if what you’re actually having them do in the way you’re telling them to come to work, and when to come to work, and what to do and how to do the work, that actually makes them an employee. Then you’re stuck, because now you’re in trouble because you haven’t been paying your taxes correctly. You haven’t done exactly right, and I’m not a tax attorney, so I can’t get in deep into the weeds of that. But I know that there are implications. So we say, “Come to us, give me a half an hour, look over your contract, if it’s good, and it’s really for an independent contractor, great.” That’s it. We’re not going to charge you three hours if we don’t need to. But if it’s, “Hey, you need to tweak a few things, give me an hour, let’s tweak some things and figure it out. So this person really is a contractor,” or say, “You know, I think it’s better if you have an employee, let’s write a new contract, and you start to treat them like an employee, and you’re better off going forward. Right, you mitigate that risk.” And that’s what we’re really trying to do. We want to anticipate problems and mitigate risks so that you can just enjoy your business, work hard and enjoy the fruits of that.
It’s all about the wording. It is all about the wording. It comes down to when it comes to contracts. It’s how it’s worded. I just said it earlier, if you have a contract, if you’re working with people, have them updated, for sure. I mean, it makes sense. Sometimes people are, they bite off their nose to spite their face, right? Because they don’t want to spend, they think with attorneys they just want to chaching-chaching-chaching. That’s all they think. Right? That’s not how you work. And that was the first thing when you came on. They obviously wanted to give you the big guns behind you as that small person, we all need to protect and be protected. I have to say this more than ever, because now the world has changed. The world has become corporate, right? And so it’s not like it used to be, right, where you could just talk to somebody and have a gentleman’s agreement or whatever. It doesn’t work that way anymore.
No, no, it doesn’t. And more often than not, I believe the best in people. But more often than not in the business world that we see. If you have the gentleman’s agreement, it’s not going to end up bad for that person, for whatever reason. Maybe they can’t afford it anymore. Maybe things have changed. Or they were partners in a business, and now their partner has taken over and doesn’t want to honor the gentleman’s agreement anymore. Now, you’re in trouble. And there’s nothing we can do if you don’t have it written down, or your contract squared away.
The other thing is, the other people seem to know the system now. Yeah, you know. They know the system, they know it and, god forbid, you know, this is why you need somebody like the FR Law Group behind you. And again, is it worth it to have that consultation with them? 30 minutes, give me a half an hour, like you said, let’s look at it. Let’s make sure that everything is up to snuff. If it’s not for an extra hour, whatever it is, it’s worth it to do absolutely. The number to call them directly is 602-566-7425. Again, check them out on their website. It is frlawgroup.com. Cybersecurity, I think it’s so important that we talk about that because it’s another area that is relatively new to a lot of people that don’t even understand it until it happens to them, right?
That’s exactly right. And on cybersecurity, there are a couple of points. And we don’t have a lot of time to get into it. Maybe we’ll get into it more next time. But you have to have policies for your employees and your customers to keep data secure, to make sure things aren’t getting out and being sent where they shouldn’t be. Right, that’s important. Then, as important as it is, you need a good cyber insurance policy. Because if a breach does happen, if somebody does hack it, most of your general liability insurance policies are not going to cover anything with cybersecurity, and you’re going to be out a lot of money. A lot of times we’ve seen it happen to, you know, people that we talk to, clients that come to us, we’ve seen it happen around where they had a breach. Oh no, their insurance policy doesn’t cover it. We’ve even seen it happen, “I bought a cyber policy online.” And it doesn’t actually cover what happened because it was for a different type of business or whatever. So, we do a lot of business insurance work. If you’re worried about your cybersecurity, and I’d say you need to be, come to us. Let us see what your insurance policies are, what you have in place, and then we can hook you up with a broker who can get you a tailored insurance policy to exactly what you need. That will help mitigate some of that risk on the back end.
Again, I want you to explain to them how, because again, most people think of hiring an attorney when something goes wrong, but no, hire your attorney before anything goes wrong. So, they can make sure.
Right, we can help make sure that nothing goes wrong by what we try to do. And of course, if it does, then what we say is, “Okay, we’ve done all the work on the front end. So your risk is really small on the back end, even if somebody does still want to sue you even if the contracts, right?” So take care of it now, you’ll pay less at the end. It’s just that simple.
It is that simple. You’ve said that many times, you know when you come on the show, and it’s so important for people to listen to this. The information, and I say this every show, I really love my show for this reason. When you’re listening to things like this, and I know a lot of people procrastinate, they call when they’re ready. I understand that, but please, folks, you know right now, especially in this world that we’re living in, having someone like Richie, FR Law Group, they’re the people to call and it’s worth every minute of their time that they’re going to give you, whether it’s 30 minutes or a little bit longer, to make sure that you’re protected, and cyber security right now is huge. What are your final words for today?
Well, like always, take care of it now. You’ll pay less later, and I promise we’re going to be more efficient and better than anybody in the valley.
Absolutely. Their phone number is 602-566-7425. They do free consultations. It’s frlawgroup.com.