You may be asking yourself, ‘Do I really need a bunch of policy and procedure pages?’ The short answer is while they aren’t required by law, they are highly recommended in order to cover your business legally. Policies and procedures are a great way to outline how your business operates in a wide variety of circumstances from refunds, to customer privacy policies, cookie policies, and everything in between. Many times, these policies are necessary when you find yourself in a situation like a customer wanting a refund, or a customer worried about their sensitive information. 

It is understandable that some business owners may feel like a policy and procedure page is just taking up space or that it isn’t something they want to have on their homepage. Policies and procedures can be boring, and we can understand why they may not be wanted on your website when your goal is to draw users in, not bore them with legalese. 

What different types of policies should I have on my website? 

There are a great many different types of policies that off the cuff, sound like boring webpages no one will read; but they are extremely important as they outline the different policies and procedures you as a business follow for different situations. Some of these policies include: privacy policies, refund policies, copyright policies, disclaimers, terms and conditions, comment policies (think blogs), cookie consent, cookie policies, service agreements, accessibility statements, data security policies, disclosures, intellectual property, and so on. These are all incredibly important to have posted on your website, and they can make a difference should a client dispute something with you. 

Let’s break some of these policies down a bit. Copyright and intellectual property policies are incredibly important if you are the creator of a specific dog breed, you have created your own breeding program, invented your own pet care line, or any other proprietary property that belongs to you and your business. These policies lay the legal groundwork by announcing to those on your site, that this work is solely yours. Having these policies posted on your website can make the difference should a competitor try to steal your ideas and claim them as your own. Registering your copyrights, or intellectual property is important, but so is announcing it on your website with a policy that dictates what can and will happen if someone is caught stealing your copyrights or intellectual property. 

Privacy policies, data security policies and disclosures are all just as important if not more so. While again they are not legally required to be posted, many businesses want to assure potential clients that the business values their privacy, protects client data and will make all due efforts to ensure customer safety within reason. These policies often outline both client and business responsibilities regarding the process to protect both the client and the business from breaches in security. 

Refund policies are incredibly important and one of the most recommended policies to have on your website. If your refund policy is not posted where the clients can view it, it opens the door for potential conflict when it could have been avoided with a simple refund policy. When you outline and link your refund policy on your page, it provides the information to clients, whether they read it or not, that explains to them how refunds will or will not work. Because it is on your website, it saves you the hassle of having to provide each client with the refund policy prior to the sales. 

Will these policies and procedures help me at all in business? 

In short, yes. It has been proven that having well written, properly compiled policies and procedures published on your website not only give customer confidence, but they can help lessen your overall legal fees throughout the duration of your business. Many businesses with properly drawn up policies and procedures have shown that their need for legal fees are less than businesses without those policies and procedures. This can be attributed to the fact that when you have properly formed policies and procedures, you will find yourself cutting out the potential for frivolous issues with customers.  In fact, in some locations like California and Virginia (to name two), require privacy policies due certain laws around the protection of privileged customer data. Because of those laws, cookie policies could also be a requirement depending on the state your business is centered in. 

Not only can this cut down on the legal fees you may need, but these policies and procedures help inspire clients to trust your business. While these policies may appear boring, to some they can inspire a level of transparency and trust between them and your business. When these policies are published on your site, clients can read over them, and get a first hand explanation on how you handle a wide variety of incredibly important business factors like refunds, sales, data security, accessibility, and intellectual property.

How do I get these policies?

Writing policies and procedures can be an incredibly daunting task. Not everyone will be able to sit down and create a proper policy or procedure outline that will fit the needs of any given state’s laws, or the business needs. That is why it is usually recommended that you use a law service if at all possible. A lawyer or law service in your area will understand your state’s laws, and how best to protect your business while still being able to build a trustworthy relationship with your customer. You may not have the budget to hire a local lawyer, and that is where the online law services come in; they typically offer a low cost monthly subscription, and in return you can get your cookie cutter documents, policies, and procedures written up legally for the state you live in. Keep in mind when using an online subscription based service, that you will not get customized policies and procedures, you will be getting just a plain old template piece, which may or may not completely fit your needs. A local lawyer, while more expensive, will be able to create customized policies and procedures for you that will fit your business and protect it on all fronts. 

You don’t have to use a lawyer or an online legal service, you can always opt to use the standard generic forms that many marketing platforms offer as placeholders. These will be incredibly generic and likely won’t offer any protection for possible legal issues, however using them can be better than nothing at all.