Yep, you need a contract. No, not just a proposal, not just an estimate, not just an email with bullets stating terms…you need a final master services contract.
If you are a new business owner, you might be anxious to send a client a contract because you think it makes it “too complicated” “too strict” “too formal” and you might think they will feel overwhelmed, put off, or like you don’t trust them.
You’re wrong…it’s exactly the opposite.
Verbal agreements are the pits, folks. And, it turns out contracts scrawled on the back of napkins or typed up mid conversation between friends …don’t work very well. There I said it. Even between friends, and people you trust and even love.
Here’s why. Life happens. Projects fall behind, things get left unsaid. What you mean, isn’t what he means.
Also, friend, YOU are running business, which is a privilege and awesome and will evolve you like nothing else can. So, treat your business with respect, treat yourself with respect, and treat your client, above all, with respect by making sure everyone is protected and understands their obligations and rights.
Here’s how I want you to look at your contracts.
A good contract:
1. Tackles fear and uncertainty. A good contract takes fear and uncertainty out of the transaction. Sometimes your clients may be too embarrassed to ask for the details, or sometimes they might not know enough to ask the right questions. It is up to you to make sure they have clarity around the transaction. Your job is to help with uncertainty and fear by giving them a contract that provides clarity and confidence in the transaction.
2. Protects you and your client. A good contract protects you both because it explicitly states in detail each party’s obligations and rights. Photographers, especially wedding photographers, and other service providers should pay close attention when explaining what is included. Maybe the bride and groom expect that you will capture certain images, like the bouquet toss, or first kiss, or a certain number of photographs with great-great grandma, and if you don’t capture those moments for whatever reason, you may have an unhappy client on your hands. So, address this ahead of time! You might want to state that there are no guaranteed images! But, in any event, make it clear that if there are certain images the happy couple would like, let them know to communicate that with you.
3. Sets timelines and boundaries. For example, with a comprehensive contract, your client will know how many calls are included, what to expect in terms of response times, when payments are due, what happens if there is a missed payment. Sometimes, you need your client to complete certain tasks before you can complete your work. These granular details just cannot be conveyed in an oral agreement and should be spelled out with clarity.
4. Prevents scope creep. Scope creep is when the scope of the project isn’t defined appropriately and the customer believes certain services are included in the project, when the service provider never intended to provide those services in the first place. I think web designers face this a lot. A web designer’s job is generally to design and build the website. Generally, a web designer’s job is not to provide content or proofread the copy provided to them by the client. This should be stated! Put your client on notice of the tasks that are not part of the scope.
5. Establishes liability ahead of time. Remember how covid 19 caused all sorts of cancellations and remember how sometimes people without contracts didn’t know what to do…yeah. I remember that, too! A sold contract will have provisions to direct the parties regarding what happens when there is a problem. For example, is there a refund, who can cancel, how do they cancel, and under what circumstances?
6. Helps establish you as the authority and as trustworthy. Ok, if you are taking the time to make sure your client understands exactly what to expect from the transaction out of a place of caring for your client…then, you can’t go wrong! Your client will love that you care and want things to be clear for them. After all, you know what you are doing, let your client see they are in good hands.
If you need help drafting your services contract or if you just want a lawyer to review your current contract, contact Wick Law Offices, LLC today! We can answer all of your questions!
Call me! 614-572-6366. Email me! email@example.com
Wick Law, LLC is a small business legal practice, representing owners, investors, and entrepreneurs in all aspects of commercial, corporate, and business law, estate planning, contracts and negotiations, business litigation, and real estate. For more information: Contact 614-572-6366, visit www.mwicklaw.com, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Wick Law, LLC is located in Columbus, Ohio.
(Materials in this article have been prepared by Wick Law, LLC for general informational purposes only. This list is for educational purposes and is not to be considered exhaustive. More items could be added to this checklist based upon the type of transaction or industry standards. These materials do not, and are not intended to, constitute legal advice. The information provided is not privileged and does not create an attorney-client relationship with Wick Law, LLC or any of the firm’s lawyers. This checklist is not an offer to represent you. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based upon any information in this checklist. Wick Law, LLC maintains offices in Columbus, Ohio, and has lawyers licensed to practice in Ohio and in the United States District Court, Southern District of Ohio. The firm does not intend to practice law in any jurisdiction where the firm is not licensed.)
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