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I Shake Hands - I Don't Sign Contracts

This one is simple: I owe it to you to deliver. Period. If I don’t? Fire me.

What am I talking about? I own a social media marketing agency that is executing on a somewhat counter-intuitive business strategy: NO CONTRACTS.

Instead, we rely on setting and meeting realistic expectations and goals with our clients in order to keep them coming back month after month.

I will shake your hand, I will look you in the eye, and I will give you my word that I will do everything in my power to exceed all goals and expectations. I would expect that if I fail to deliver on my promise you would walk away from our agreement, no strings attached.

We’ve all been there…18 pages of legal gibberish, flipping through page after page thinking to ourselves “does it really matter that I’m reading this?”

It’s annoying, but even further it divides us in our partnership. It’s highlighting doubt and mistrust upfront. “Hey if you fire me in 2 months I’m coming after you for 10 more months worth of work!” – WHY?

It’s my philosophy that when Cyclone Social works with a client, we are becoming a part of your team. We are here to serve you as a client. If you are unhappy with our partnership, that’s on us. I would expect that you and I would have a good, strong, honest conversation about any issues, hopefully, resolve them and move on. However, if we cannot, I would expect that we could walk away as professionals and move on to bigger and better things.

I know there are A LOT of you reading this post saying “wow, that’s risky” or “wow you’re crazy” or asking “don’t you ever get screwed by this policy?” the answer is NOPE.

I have grown Cyclone Social into a multi-million dollar agency and we have shaken hands the entire way.

Let me make this really clear: It’s our job to satisfy the client. It is NOT our job to get paid.

I have never sent a client to collections. I have never taken a client to court. I have never had to do either of those things because I have worked with amazing businesses who trust and respect me as much as I trust and respect them.

I think it’s also important for me to note that our company does not work with direct competitors as clients. This means we have to be somewhat selective in whom we work with. I want to work with people whom I trust. When I shake their hand and I look them in the eye I know they will hold up their end of the deal.

This also means that I’m giving you my word to not only work with you and execute on your strategy, but also I’m giving you my word that I will not work with your direct competitors. I will have a conversation with you if another company approaches us and I will ask you if you’re comfortable with us taking them on as a client. If you say NO, I will turn them down.

Yes, I have had this happen multiple times. I have turned down contracts (really BIG contracts) because I’m loyal to my clients.

I’m not advocating that this is a good idea for every business. Far from it. I’m not an expert on you or your company. I’m not a consultant on contracts or legal issues. Everything works! Not everything works for everyone. So please don’t come away from this article thinking “Andrew said I should eliminate contracts from my business” or “Andrew thinks we are wrong for making our clients sign contracts” – no. I’m just telling you what works for me and why I do it.

I know people ask me this a lot when I tell them about my handshake policy – “so is this sustainable? Do you get a lot of turnover?”

Does the handshake really work? Well, when I started Cyclone Social my first client was the Deer Park Irish Pub – a 900 square foot craft beer bar in Fort Wayne, Indiana. They are a pretty remarkable company with an even more remarkable business owner. In 2012, I shook Tony’s hand, agreed to a deal, and to this day we still do business together…never once signing a contract.

…Be Remarkable or Be Ignored

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