If you are in client service, it’s always a good idea to have a contract with your clients. In the contract, you can establish key terms of your relationship with your client, such as compensation, how either party may terminate the services and what happens if there is a dispute, among other considerations. And since you are always at risk of problems with your clients, such as client dissatisfaction or misunderstanding about the extent of the services provided, a contract can help to limit your liability in relation to these services.
But first, what exactly is a client service business? It can be any business that provides services to clients, rather than goods or retail products – anything from web design to pet grooming, walking or boarding, from home inspections to child or home healthcare. In other words, if you have clients, rather than a customer where a good is sold and carried off from the point of sale, you are probably operating a client service business. Other than forming an entity for your business, such as a corporation or limited liability company (LLC), having a contract with your clients may be the single most important thing you can put in place to minimize your liability and risk from something going wrong with a client (it does happen!).
So what happens when you charge different prices for different services? Or when you work out different arrangements with each client? This is particularly the case when you work on project large and small for various clients – some may take a while and cost more, some less so. Sometimes equipment or supplies are included, and sometimes they are not. An easy fix for this type of client service business contract is to “schedule out” a work order. This means you have a terms and conditions that applies to all clients – all the provisions that protects your particular business from the pitfalls and problems that might arise with your clients – and put all the variable terms, such as compensation, specific services provided, and project length, on a separate work order at the end of the contract. This ensures that you only have to change the work order for each client, and can rest assured that you are protected with your main terms and conditions. As an added bonus, it also allows you to enter into new projects with each client without having to sign a new agreement; you can just enter into a new work order with your client and the terms and conditions will still apply.