Let me ask you something: Do you feel protected in your business? Like, actually hold-up-in-a-court-of-law protected? Like, Elle Woods protected?
When you signed up for a membership with the Texoma Bride Guide, what was the first thing you had to do? Read and agree to our contract. Why? To set expectations around what you could expect from us and what we expected of you as a member. This contract will protect both of us should something go wrong during our relationship. Not that we expect it to, but it’s always best to have these things in writing.
We also try to make sure that the brides we help understand that they should expect you, as someone who will be providing something for their wedding, to provide a contract that outlines what you will deliver, and terms of payment. Here are a few examples:
- Information about vendor contracts in our wedding planning magazine
- On the blog: Vendor Contracts
- On the blog: 5 Red Flags to Look for on Wedding Vendor Contracts
Here are a few ways that having a solid contract between you and your clients can protect everyone:
When a client goes MIA
We all have had situations clients could have been a little more clear in their wants and wishes. But when a client just straight up ghosts you, what can you do? With a robust contract in place, you’ve collected the client’s address, permission to send them to collections in the event of non-payment, and you have all the resources you need to at the very least get paid even when the client has virtually disappeared. This is how a contract will protect you.
But on the flip side, if you cancel or ghost your client, there should be consequences for you laid out in your contract as well. I’m a member of several wedding groups on Facebook and lately, there has been a spree of vendors who have canceled at the last minute or no-showed for an event. It breaks my heart to see couples having to scramble at the last minute to find replacements. But it also makes me wonder if they had signed contracts with those vendors to help prevent or outline the backup plan when something like that occurs.
For late-paying clients
I bet you’ve never had an invoice paid late, have you? If you said yes, I think you’re lying. (If you’re not lying, your time will come!) In a contract, you clearly lay out your payment expectations from the beginning of your relationship. This will establish expectations from the start so that your client pays on time, and if they don’t, you have the option to add on a late payment charge becasue it is in your contract.
When a client feels wronged or that you did not deliver on their expectations
Effective communication and a proper contract are great ways to avoid any of the above situations. But, sometimes, we run into a nightmare client. It’s reassuring to know that your contracts clearly lay out what you expect of clients, and when, so they can reference this at any time and deliver what is expected as needed. On the other hand, if you have a vague contract that leaves your clients guessing, they could feel neglected, left out, and maybe even fearful that you’re not taking care of them!
Writing a solid contract and describing your services as clearly as possible can take time, and a bit of trial and error. We review and refine each of our contracts on a regular basis to make sure they meet our needs and account for anything we have encountered in our business since the last revision.
Now, we’re not lawyers and none of this can be considered actual legal advice. We’re just small business owners like yourself and speak from our experience and knowledge of business practices. We recommend finding a reputable lawyer to help you put together and periodically review your contracts for effectiveness. Trust us, it is worth the investment! If you need assistance finding a resource, we’ve got a couple we can recommend.