What do you need to check when thinking about your contract?

There are six elements to every legal contract and I cannot recommend enough that you get your contract professionally written and reviewed regularly. There are so many times consumers and businesses get caught out by badly written contracts. Yes, it costs money to create a solid contract, but I am sure it will cost a lot less than losing clients and your reputation.

Keep it simple.

Use Plain English with short sentences and numbered paragraphs. If you’re selling products and services, make sure the contract covers the specific details of what your customer will receive by using you or your company.

Make sure the contract is for the right person.

So many delays in getting contracts signed or receiving payments are caused simply by addressing the contract to the wrong person or a misspelling of the person or company’s name. Remember, this is a legal document and getting the name wrong means you don’t have an enforceable contract.

Be clear about payment terms.

A vital part of your contract is specifying your payment terms. What you expect to get paid. When you expect to get paid and how you expect to get paid. The payment clause lays out in black and white how much you’re charging, whether you want payment by instalments, payment up front, or after completion of work. You can specify whether you accept cash, card, cheque or BACS payments and whether there are any surcharges, late payment fees, or interest added to outstanding debts.

Include clauses for problems or termination.

Your contract also needs to allow for potential problems that may arise during the lifetime of providing your product or service to your customer. You might want to include transportation clauses, breakage clauses or lost in transit clauses. You might also want to include a clause giving you or your customer the right to cancel the product or service.

Make sure the contract is signed by all parties.

Another important part of your contract is to make sure it is signed and dated, in pen or electronically, by your customer. Everyone using your product or service should be aware of your contract and its clauses. You may wish to offer a trial of your product or service, but even under trials customers should be asked to agree to your contract. It is also important to ensure the person signing the contract is over 18 and is not intoxicated or otherwise impaired as the contract may be declared void.

Keep a copy of all of your contracts

There’s no knowing when you might need to recall a customer contract and I strongly recommend keeping electronic copies of all of your customer contracts, either stored in the cloud, or on site with regular backups.

If I can help write a contract for your company, or update an existing contract, please get in touch. It’s so much easier to have a contract in place to begin with than fix your reputation after a problem.

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