Over the years, I have had the chance to review a number of templates for planning contracts. While it would be too much to get into in one blog post, I strongly suggest that all of you sit down with a good lawyer to help set up one that works best for you and your business. That said, today I would like to address the description of services portion of the contract in the hope that everyone reading this will walk away really thinking about what they include, thus avoiding sticky situations with clients.
Let’s break down the usual sequence of events:
You meet your client, they express an interest in working with you, and now you must describe, in great detail, what you will be offering in terms of services rendered. It is essential that you be very clear in order to avoid misleading the client and creating awkward and stressful situations for both yourself and your client.
I recently came across one that offered the following:
Unlimited vendor recommendations.
Unlimited contact via email and telephone.
Now, is it just me or was this person asking for trouble? I personally would be very cautious in making promises like this one, especially after having a client drop by my office without an appointment and fully under the notion that I was to be available to her whenever she decided I should be.
Unlimited vendor recommendations? I imagine if a planner takes a client to three different vendors, they can find one to suit their needs. While unlimited contact via email and phone should not be a problem, it’s essential there are guidelines set in place. You want to give your clients your full and complete attention, but there are also times when you will need to provide this high quality service to your other clients, and though well-meaning, some clients can assume that because they want to talk at midnight, you should be available as well.
Bottom Line: Be careful, concise, and clear in the language you use in your contracts. Being too vague can send the wrong message and tie you into agreements that are detrimental to all involved.
Question: As a planner, are you comfortable making “unlimited” promises to your clients? How many vendors (florists, musicians, cake vendors, etc.) do you recommend to clients because they choose the right one for them?
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