As a small business owner, you’ve likely already considered the various ways you can make your business go digital. From your payment processing system to your schedules and overall management system, there are several administrative tasks that can be improved with the right software solution.
With so many upgrades to consider, it can be easy to overlook important but often taken-for-granted tools, such as your organization’s waivers. Even if your business has a standardized system for managing your paper waivers, switching to online waivers can provide your small businesses with a wide range of benefits almost immediately.
Digital waivers are essentially waivers that your small business’s customers would fill out online. They contain all the same information and are equally as valid as traditional paper waivers. Anything that your business would use paper waivers for, you can use digital waivers instead. A variety of businesses that normally use paper waivers can make use of digital waivers, such as ones that encourage customers to participate in heavy physical activity such as gyms and martial arts classes, have customers interact with animals, or even situations where customers may be at potential risk for COVID-19 transmission.
If you’re still unsure whether it’s worth it to switch to digital waivers, conduct your own research on how an online waiver system could impact your business. To get started, this article will walk through four benefits small businesses can experience when using digital waivers:
- Protect Your Business from Liability
- Communicate Openly with Customers
- Stay Organized Easily
- Reduce Costs
Running a small business requires careful planning and resource management. If you decide to switch to digital waivers, be sure to research potential service providers before committing to one solution. Doing so will ensure you find the right fit for your business’s unique needs. Let’s get started.
Protect Your Business from Liability
Whether you’re running a gym or a martial arts business, you’re going to need waivers if your customers are participating in physically strenuous activities. For these types of businesses, waivers are a necessity for helping to protect your business from potential liability.
Sports organizations, adventure parks, and any business that involves interacting with animals will likely all need waivers for both customers and employees. These waivers should include key elements such as:
- Acknowledgment and assumption of risk. Waivers help protect your business from liability by having customers, employees, and anyone else who will be participating in risk-taking activities acknowledge that they are aware of said potential risks. Stating these risks clearly will help maintain a transparent relationship and let those who are uncomfortable with certain risks opt out ahead of time.
- Contact information. In the event that a risk becomes an actual incident, you should be able to get in contact with the necessary parties immediately, such as an emergency contact. Plus, your business may need to touch base with any customers or employees after the fact to discuss the waiver and any liability issues.
- Signature. At the end of your waiver, include a place for your customers, employees, or whoever else to sign. Online waivers will include digital signatures, which are recognized as valid as long as you guarantee that the content of the waiver will not change and the signee agrees to a digital signature and receives a copy of the waiver.
With online waivers, you can work alongside your lawyer or insurance company to easily create an online document that includes all of these core elements and every other essential detail for your business.
Communicate Openly with Customers
Waivers should facilitate open communication with your customers about potential risks associated with participating in various activities at your business. By being transparent, customers can self-select to only take part in aspects of your business that they feel comfortable with, helping head off potential safety issues.
Online waivers can help elevate your transparency even further with features such as:
- Increased review time. Sometimes, when customers walk into your business, they’ll hurry through your waivers without reading the exact details in order to get to your activities faster. By contrast, when your customers are able to review your waivers on your website at any time, they can thoroughly review their contents and make an informed decision to sign.
- Ensuring customers have a copy. With paper waivers, the standard delivery method will involve handing out copies to your customers and then collecting them to be stored afterward. This means that your customers will not be able to review their personal copies without getting in touch with your business. By contrast, an online waiver allows them to download their own copy for personal reference immediately after signing.
- Increased availability. Taking your waivers online can make them more accessible by offering them in multiple languages and choosing a format that allows screen readers to view them. This increases your potential customer base and ensures everyone will be able to provide informed consent in a way that is comfortable for them.
Remember that risk might not always be immediately obvious to your customers, so open communication throughout the entire waiver process is key. For example, Smartwaiver’s page on salon waivers goes into detail about how beauty salons—which may have previously been thought of as a relatively risk-free business—now need to make customers aware of potential risks due to COVID-19.
Starting conversations about risks may be uncomfortable at first, but doing so can ultimately help increase your customers’ trust in your business, while also helping you avoid risky situations.
Stay Organized Easily
Picture this: a customer thinks they might be experiencing an injury or illness related to an activity they participated in at your business and calls to request a copy of a waiver they signed and submitted a week ago.
If your business uses paper waivers, this request can very likely result in digging through stacks of waivers that are hopefully organized by date or at least alphabetically. By contrast, a business with digital waivers could ask the customer their name then locate their waiver and send it to them within seconds.
As this example shows, digital waivers can not only save you stress, but their easy organization tools also benefit your customers. These features include:
- Searchable databases. As discussed in the example, many online waiver platforms come with searchable databases. To find the waiver you need, you just need to type in a name, date, or other identifying feature, and the waiver will be brought up immediately.
- Eliminate logistical concerns. With online waivers, you never need to worry if you have enough waivers on hand. For example, if you’re hosting an event and end up getting more walk-ins than expected, you would need someone to run to the printer for paper waivers. With online waivers, you can ask guests to just visit your website from their phones.
- Update your system easily. Waivers can expire or become outdated, and with an online waiver database, you’ll be able to delete these automatically. This helps keep your database free of unnecessary dirty data. NPOInfo’s guide to data hygiene explains that unclean data can lead to a variety of pitfalls “including ineffective lead tracking, marketing missteps, and the inability to personalize outreach materials.”
These organizational features can also help your business save storage space for documents that you need physical copies of. This means digital waivers can sometimes end up improving your entire office’s filing system.
As your business grows, online waivers can help you save costs in the long run. While paper waivers may seem initially cheaper, printing and storage costs will begin to add up, especially as your business attracts more customers and expands your services.
With the right waiver software, there will be no need for filing cabinets or printers. By going paperless, your business can also send a positive message about reducing waste, which may appeal to environmentally-conscious customers.
Additionally, if you ever need to edit your waivers or create new ones, all of your changes can be made online. This will save you the hassle of reprinting new copies and speed up communication time with relevant parties, such as your insurance company.
These improvements might seem small, but they can add up to have a significant impact on your revenue and operating expenses. Plus, if your new waiver software is user-friendly—which it will be with the right platform—teaching new employees how to navigate your system will likely be far easier than training them how to troubleshoot your printer.
Small business owners often have a lot of balls in the air, and you don’t want your waivers to be one of them. With digital waivers, you can simplify your waiver system to protect your business, while maintaining transparency and even reducing costs.
If you’re still unsure if transitioning to digital waivers makes sense for your business, try reaching out to waiver platforms to view demos and ask specific questions about how they’ll relate to your business. Good luck!
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