In times of crisis, with so many businesses struggling to survive, unscrupulous operators inevitably appear. Seeking to take advantage of people when they are at their most vulnerable by making big promises, seems to be commonplace amongst less honest traders at the moment. So how do you protect your business and your livelihood?
Under such financial stress, it’s easy to see why many struggling businesses in the hospitality industry would be tempted by promises of cheaper pricing but it’s important not to take things at face value.
Aside from whether these businesses can actually deliver on their big promises, there is a more fundamental question: how well protected are you if things don’t work out as you hoped?
Our recent blog on the current prevalence of bait advertising demonstrates just how far some unethical industry ‘newcomers’ are willing to go to win new business. Unfortunately, it is the property manager who would ultimately suffer or be held accountable for advertising misrepresentation or data breaches.
And handing over your most valuable information, such as access to your live bank data or sharing your customer emails with another business, particularly those that have no industry history, longevity or reputation, is akin to handing over your wallet and keys to your house to a complete stranger.
So how do you protect your business? You may be under the false impression that much of your data is already widely accessible and one more company having access to it won’t make a difference but it makes a HUGE difference, especially depending on who that Company is.
When you hand over data to another business you expect that they will keep it safe and not misuse it. Giving them this information implies that you are comfortable that they have the necessary credentials and security measures in place to protect it. However, can you really trust them to do the right thing?
And if you have other people’s data in your systems, you are legally required to look after it. This means not sharing it with another business without the express consent of your customers.
Common misuses of data by dishonest businesses may include using your email database to develop mailing lists that could potentially be sold on.
The onus is on you to do your research and make sure that you have asked all the right questions, including how their business is set up; what company structure they are operating under and therefore what business protection you have should things go awry.
For example, ‘sole trader’ businesses don’t offer the same level of protection as ‘companies’. Companies are legal entities that can be investigated and held accountable for any alleged wrongdoing. Working with sole traders does not deliver the same level of protection for your business. Working with a Company that has no visible trading history should be a red flag at the very least!
You wouldn’t change your laundry service supplier or your swimming pool maintenance team without first checking their industry experience, reputation and reliability. So why would you entrust some of your business’ most valuable assets and financial data to operators with no history or reputation?
And it’s important not to be led by what others in the industry tell you. Many people get caught up in the buzz of something seemingly glitzy and ‘new’. You have to question the motives of people jumping on a ‘bandwagon’. True industry disruptors are rare. Do your own homework. Ask the right questions.
Best case scenario is you realise your mistake early on and have to bear the additional costs of migrating back to another supplier. And in the very worst-case scenario, you might end up losing more than just your data!
How do you ensure that your data is safe and will not be misused? And how do you protect yourself from ‘fly-by-night’ operators who may not be around for the long-haul?
The only answer is to work with someone you trust with a proven history and reputation.
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