Business Partnership Advisor
Together, we can fix your business and partnership problems
Chris Reich, Business Luminary
Chris Reich Now Offers Optional Binding Mediation Services
Email of the week:
Chris, my partner and I are stuck. We have a big decision to make and we cannot agree on which direction to go. Neither choice will hurt the business but I think my plan is better for the business. Can you make a ruling if we hire you to break the tie?
I Now Offer Binding Mediation Under Certain Terms
You asked for it so I’m offering binding mediation under specific terms. Before we get to those terms, let me explain binding mediation.
Binding mediation is a process of dispute resolution where the parties to the dispute agree to place their trust in the hands of a mediator who will decide the case after everyone has been heard and all the facts are presented. The mediator will attempt to find a compromise solution, but if none can be agreed, the mediator will present a ruling to which all parties agree to abide. Simply put, both sides tell their story and the mediator decides.
Binding Mediation Is Not Easy for the Mediator
Ask for binding mediation puts the mediator under a lot of extra pressure. First, the mediator must remain neutral. That is, neutral until the end of the process. Then the mediator must decide between 2 or more views that often have equally compelling points in their favor. A good mediator will always try to find a compromise position for discussion. If the parties agree, the mediator can allow disputants to find agreement withing the compromise. If no compromise position can be agreed, the mediator rules on the dispute.
If you and your business partner are divided on a decision, binding mediation might be for you.
Chris Reich now offers a binding mediation process.
What Are the Special Terms and Conditions?
In order to enter a binding mediation process, I require a couple of agreements from the parties to the dispute. First, everyone must agree that once we start a binding process, we will work to the conclusion and everyone will accept my decision. To protect you from having me come up with a weird decision based on what I think is a good compromise, the matter to be decided will be drafted in writing. That will keep the mediation on topic. If you and your business partner disagree about giving each other a raise, I will not rule that you should spend more money on advertising and not give raises. The mediation process will stick to discussing raises. I will determine who presents the better argument on that specific matter.
Finally, I will give you a written decision. That decision will include a business resolution for all parties to sign.
Why Would Anyone Want This Process?
If you have a serious dispute with your business partner and want it resolved quickly and at far less expense that court, agreeing to a binding mediation process may be the ideal solution. You get a clear ruling after a process of trying to find compromise. The court will require the same thing but it will cost you several thousand dollars and could take 5 years to conclude! Agreeing to binding mediation will save money and time. It will also help your business relationship. Think about this. If you spend $50,000 in legal fees over 5 years to fight your partner in court, how will that relationship be at the end of the process? And if we can sit down and work together for a week or two and find something mutually acceptable? There’s a big difference.
Not Just for Partnerships
Binding mediation can work for all business disputes if the parties are willing. If a customer wants a refund for a product he says failed but you said was abused, consider offering binding mediation. There are plenty (too many!) of situations where a binding mediation process might be ideal.
“If you and your partner have a dispute that you simply cannot settle, consider binding mediation as fast and cost-effective path to resolution.”
When the business partnership breaks down, the darker sides of the personalities come through. A dominant partner turns into a bully. A person who does not do well with conflict will withdraw. As the bully gets more aggressive, the pacifist withdraws further. Eventually, the bully gets so angry they are ready to lock the other partner out. The pacifist quits coming in. The next blowout is over money. The course is as logically predictable as what will happen to your car if you hit the highway with no oil in the engine. It will get louder and louder until the engine seizes.
I recommend that partners talk through a specific issue and then draft an agreement (called a resolution) that sets a policy. You can keep this in a binder to serve as amendments (or foundation) to your Partnership Agreement. In this post I’ll explain how to talk about things that bug you with your partner and how to draft a binding resolution to fix the problems.
Unless you are in some sort of political business, you should keep politics out of your establishment completely. Of course, you have freedom of speech, but we are in very contentious times and displays of political or religious positions might be off-putting to to your customers.