Last week we covered procedures and policies and now it’s time to dive into the important pieces of a contract! First, I will lead with saying I am not a lawyer, advisor, attorney, or any related profession, and I cannot be held legally responsible for any information I give. I’m just sharing pieces of my contract with you. I had my contracts looked over by a paralegal to make sure they were legally sound, and I recommend you do so as well.
Client Service Agreements
For me, contracts are called client service agreements. I have several types for the different packages I offer. There is an agreement for one-time projects, one for ongoing projects, and a third type for website agreements. The difference between one-time and ongoing is that an ongoing client signs an agreement that their package will renew every 3o days. For the website agreement I charge 50% deposit and the remaining 50% upon completion.
What I Include
In my agreements I list services I’m providing, hourly rate, and package rates. There is then a package policy which includes:
- a notice that hours expire in 30 days.
- a rollover hours policy (if you renew package of equal or greater value you can rollover unused hours). I also verbally state this to clients as clear communication is important.
We move on to a disclaimer which states client understands Alyssa Avant & Company is not an agent, publicist, accountant, financial planner, lawyer, therapist, or any other licensed or registered professional. I state services may include:
- setting priorities.
- establishing goals.
- identifying resources.
- creating action plans.
- asking clarifying questions.
- providing models, examples, and in-the-moment training skills.
- a notice that Alyssa Avant and Company promises that all information provided by the client will be kept strictly confidential as permissible by law.
I make sure they understand what I am and am not providing. There is then a request for client participation in the working relationship. I let them know what is expected as far as communication and how I will communicate with them.
But Wait, There’s More!
We continue with what is included in my contracts. The client will find terms and termination policies, timelines, payments, and a refund policy. They will be informed about confidentiality with a compiled disclosure of confidential information (basically I’m not going to release any private information). I have a non-disparagement agreement and dispute resolution, which includes what will happen if there is a dispute. I’ve included an entire-agreement amendment and headings section and what happens if they want to amend the agreement. Next there is a severability clause. I also include information about assignment, stating this agreement may not be assigned by either party without express written consent, and this agreement doesn’t stand without both parties agreeing and signing.
Segments of My Contracts
The above information covers the different segments for my one-time agreement and the same is true for ongoing, except in the terms, timeline, and payment information I share that the client will use hours and renew package every 30 days or lose access to hours. That’s the gist of the two agreements I have for hourly packages.
99.9% of my clients are on an hourly and ongoing package. I have a handful that are on a social media package or website maintenance package, so there is a set fee based not on hours but on the work I do for them.
Legally Binding Contract
For your contracts you can include more or less but I recommend you have a lawyer (or at least a paralegal) look over your contracts to make sure they are legally sound. I update my contracts every year to ensure my agreements are current and recommend you do the same. Things change!
Contracts are easy to create and work with! It would be good to look into HelloSign, HoneyBook, or other eSign programs where you and client can sign, and it will be legally binding. I’ve done this for years and have not had any issues. I’m currently using HoneyBook, but I’d use HelloSign if needed as both work equally well. With HelloSign, both the free and unpaid versions work well, and you get a number of free contracts every month before you have to pay.
I hope you’ve learned from the different client service agreements I have and what they contain. We are at the end of the month and that ends our discussion on paperwork! Next month we will focus on the importance of list building. I’ll share ways you can build your list and how to make your list work for you as a VA.
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