118. Do I Need to Read Disclaimers Out Loud to Clients?

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Today we’re going to talk about disclaimers. Listener Phu asked: Do disclaimers need to be read out loud during client sessions?

No, and there’s a good reason why. Let’s discuss!

In this episode, you’ll hear… 

  • When and where to use your disclaimer
  • Nurturing the follower to client journey
  • Pre-qualifying clients before you work with them

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A client session or the start of a course or program shouldn’t be the first time your client is hearing or reading your disclaimer (aka what you do and don’t do)! To illustrate that, let’s take a look at the follower-to-client journey,

1. FOLLOWER 👋

Someone finds you online. They poke around your website, check out your social media, and sign up for your emails. On your site, they see your website disclaimer, and on social media, they always hear you saying things like, “Make sure you check with your doctor/lawyer/accountant/financial advisor/CPA/therapist first!”

They don’t hear you making unfounded claims, giving promises or guaranteed outcomes, or offering cures/treatments for people’s specific issues.

2. INTERESTED POTENTIAL CLIENT 🤔

They respond to one of your emails and ask to book a free call with you. When they sign up for your call, they get my  Pre-Qualify Before They Buy email  — where you clearly lay out what you do, what you don’t do, and how the call’s going to go.

On the call itself, you make sure the person is the right fit and that they don’t need help or advice that’s outside your scope of practice. If they ask you any questions about whether you’d be able to help them with ___ (something outside your scope), you use that as an opportunity to get super clear on what you will & won’t do.

(If you sell a course, membership, or digital product, we’d address all of this in your sales page copy + FAQs!)

3. NEW CLIENT 👯‍♀️

After your free call, they sign-up! WOO HOO! 🥳

You send them an email with a link to your invoice and contract to review & sign. In the contract, there’s a summary of your disclaimer clearly describing who you are, what you do, and what you don’t.

So as you can see — if you’re set up legally, you’ll have many checkpoints along the way that help prevent the wrong kinds of clients from signing up to work with you.

By the time you get on the call, your client should be familiar with what you do & don’t do. But during your time together, it’s totally normal for clients to ask questions that would require you to veer off course and go outside your scope.

During those times, it’s important to bring the conversation back and remind them of your parameters — and have referrals and resources in your back pocket to help them 🙂

Episode Transcript

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Sam Vander Wielen: Hey, it’s Sam. And welcome back to another episode of On Your Terms. And this week, I am tackling a legal question all about disclaimers, so I’m excited to hop in.

Every episode this month, I’m kicking it off with a Norm Tip that’s from my dad because this is the anniversary month of his passing from last year. So, this episode’s Norm Tip is that, when you buy tomato sauce or salsa, water should never be listed as one of the first three ingredients because he thought that that meant it was cheap and thin, and he did not like it like that.

If this was a visual podcast, I would show you that he had a whole test. He had like a Norm Test for sauce where he would turn the jar sideways and see if it was super easy to run in the bottle and that’s how he could tell. And so, it was just funny. But, honestly, I find myself doing it all the time now because I’m just used to it. We used to grocery shop together constantly, if you’re wondering why so many of my tips are about shopping and going to food stores. All right. Thanks for indulging that with me.

This week’s question is from our listener, Fu. And Fu asked, "Do disclaimers need to be read out loud during client sessions?"

So, there’s a really good reason why you don’t need to read disclaimers aloud when meeting with your clients or starting a group program or a course session or something like that. A client session or the start of your course should not be the first time that your client is hearing about or reading your disclaimer. And your disclaimer, remember, is disclaiming what you do and don’t do based on how you’re qualified, licensed, educated, all of that. It’s also advising people to take care and caution for themselves, and know what’s best for themselves, or talk to their professional, all of that kind of stuff.

So, let’s go through the follower to client journey together for a second, because I think that this will kind of spell out why they shouldn’t be hearing about your disclaimer from just when you start your sessions and where the little legal touches are along the way. So, this will make sense in a sec.

All right. So, let’s start off, number one, when somebody is just a follower of yours. Somebody finds you online, they poke around your website, check out your social media, sign up for your emails. Maybe they go on your website and they see your website disclaimer, maybe. And on social, they always hear you saying things like "Make sure you check with your doctor, lawyer, accountant, financial advisor, CPA therapist, whatever, firefighter first." They hear you qualifying your advice.

At the same time they don’t hear you making unfounded claims, making promises, guaranteeing outcomes, or offering to cure, treat, prevent, et cetera, people specific issues. Even if you were a money coach and you were talking about some incredible result that your client got on Instagram or something like that, you, of course, would qualify that with "Of course, this isn’t guaranteed for everyone" or "This client had a really unique situation" or "This client works really hard to do this" or "This client made $100,000 a year that’s why they were able to pay down their debt." We’re offering true and honest information to qualify what we’re saying.

Okay. So, phase two is when somebody goes from being a follower to now an interested potential client, maybe. So, they respond to one of your emails. They ask to book a free call with you or they shoot you a message or DM or something. And then, when they sign up for your call, of course, they get my pre-qualified before they buy email because you got that from me for free – which you can get in the show notes. I have email templates for you that you can send to people ahead of time to pre-qualify them and start to lay the groundwork for this stuff. And that’s where you’re going to clearly lay out what you do, what you don’t do, what the call is for, how the call is going to go, how the call is not going to go.

On the call itself, you make sure that the person is the right fit for you, too, and you’re the right fit for them. And you make sure that they don’t need help or what they’re actually looking for is advice or professional guidance that’s outside of your scope of practice.

If they ask you any questions about whether you’d be able to help them with X, Y, or Z, like insert something that’s outside your scope of practice, you use that as an opportunity to get super clear on what you will and won’t do and why. Because that’s going to be an opportunity to set the stage for down the line when something comes up in a client session and it’s outside your scope, you can be like, "Remember, we talked about this."

If you sell a course or a membership or digital product, we address everything that I’m saying right now in your sales page copy, your FAQs, and then the terms of use at checkout. So, that’s how you would think about it for that. When you’re doing more private coaching, consulting, offering services, you have more touchpoints with people, that’s where you kind of need to work it and watch your language in some of the emails that they get from you as well.

All right. So, let’s move forward to stage three. Now, somebody went from being a follower to an interested potential client to a new client. So, after your free call or after they DM you or something like that, they sign up. They’re ready to go. They buy your thing. You send them an email with a link to your invoice and a contract to review and sign. Or if it’s a digital product, it’s something that they agreed to at checkout. And in the contract, there’s a summary of your disclaimer clearly describing who you are, what you do, and what you don’t do.

So, as you can see, if you’re set up legally, you have a lot of checkpoints along the way that help prevent the wrong kinds of clients from signing up to work with you or buying your stuff in the first place. By the time you get on the call or the person buys your thing, they should be familiar with what you do and don’t do. And if they’ve been following you on social and stuff, they shouldn’t have the wrong idea.

And during your time together with your client or while somebody is using your product, it’s totally normal for clients to ask questions that would require you to veer off course and go outside your scope. They don’t know. They probably aren’t familiar, really, with what your scope is. So, during those times, it’s important that you bring the conversation back and remind them of your parameters again, gently.

That’s what’s so nice about having laid this groundwork is that it’s not going to be a shock to the system. Nobody’s going to feel like they they got surprised that they thought you were going to help them with something that you couldn’t legally help them with because they’ve heard about it before.

And at the end of the day, like I always recommend in all of my scope of practice episodes and everything I’ve talked about, like Episodes 2 and Episode 69, it’s always great to have referrals and resources in your back pocket to refer people to because it helps you to be able to stay within your scope and stay your lane.

Yeah. So, that’s about disclaimers. I hope that this was helpful. If you love listening to the show, please leave a quick rating or review wherever you listen to podcasts. Text this episode to a friend who you think would benefit from it. I love to hear from you on Instagram, I’m @samvanderwielen. With that, I hope you have a great rest of your week and I will see you next week.

Thanks so much for listening to the On Your Terms Podcast. Make sure to follow on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you like to listen to podcasts. You can also check out all of our podcast episodes, show notes, links, and more at samvanderwielen.com/podcast. You can learn more about legally protecting your business and take my free legal workshop, Five Steps to Legally Protect and Grow Your Online Business, at samvanderwielen.com. And to stay connected and follow along, follow me on Instagram, @samvanderwielen, and send me a DM to say hi.

Just remember that although I am a attorney, I am not your attorney and I am not offering you legal advice in today’s episode. This episode and all of my episodes are informational and educational only. It is not a substitute for seeking out your own advice from your own lawyer. And please keep in mind that I can’t offer you legal advice. I don’t ever offer any legal services. But I think I offer some pretty good information.

 

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DISCLAIMER: Although Sam is an attorney she doesn’t practice law and can’t give you legal advice. All episodes of On Your Terms are educational and informational only. The information discussed here isn’t legal advice and isn’t intended to be. The info you hear here isn’t a substitute for seeking legal advice from your own attorney.

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