Affiliates come in all shapes and sizes, from garage start-ups to massive studios, but their owners have one thing in common – they share the same “do it yourself” mentality and veracity. This gumption often leaves oversights in business plans, mainly regarding the Affiliate owner’s personal liability. However, there are several relatively easy ways to mitigate your liability, such as properly structuring your company and obtaining release of liability waivers.
Your attorney, if you have already procured one, will suggest the use of an LLC (Limited Liability Corporation) or LLP (Limited Liability Partnership) to shield your personal assets from any injuries — or other liability — that occur from your business venture. Without this advice or despite it, too many Affiliates venture into business as sole proprietorships or as a partnership, leaving themselves, their families and their business partners’ assets at risk from potential litigation. This is dangerous because a lawsuit can attach assets the partnership’s parties or sole proprietor owns and the attachment can happen soon after a lawsuit is filed. However, an LLC is inexpensive and easy to form and can prevent asset seizure beyond the corporation’s assets, thereby shielding you and your family.
Every brand name gym or corporation you go to requires a waiver or EULA (End User Licensing Agreement) to be signed before they will tender services, and for good reason. These agreements limit the company’s risk to litigation tremendously and controls the forum litigation would occur in if a suit is filed. Therefore, waivers can provide your Box the same benefits with very little cost, especially with the advent of digital waivers and the Supreme Court’s recognition of digital signatures.
Simply having a software that collects waivers is not enough. You must setup a waiver that matches your business needs and deliver it at each entry point. Additionally, you must prevent any of your athletes from entering your premises without a signed waiver on file. Your employees must be able to determine whether an athlete has signed a waiver and promptly provide an up-to-date waiver to be signed.
Technology is only as good as the people using it. Here are three steps an Affiliate owner can take to ensure their waivers are being used effectively: First, find a solution that allows athletes to sign your waivers remotely and while present at your gym. Second, verify that the signed waivers bind to your athlete’s information, so you can later look up if that athlete has signed a waiver. Third, test your process from start to finish and address any concerns that arise. If your software isn’t providing 100 percent coverage for your athletes, you may need another tool.
Remember, protecting yourself from liability is never perfect or complete. Having waivers does not prevent a lawsuit, and protecting your personal assets with a corporation does not prevent seizure of the corporation’s assets. However, like how insurance can reimburse you in an accident, mitigating liability is a necessary aspect of any business venture. Consider your liability, do not overlook it and establish control over this often-overlooked aspect of business.
By Kurt Schneider, the compliance manager at RhinoFit. For more information, call 866.858.0304.