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CLGPatrick
Level 7

Contracts Made Easy (Gmail Account Required)

I've seen and heard of a lot of pros get burned on payment because they didn't get a contract signed or a downpayment upfront.

I'll be real with you... even I've been burned.  Getting someone to sign a contract digitally is kind of confusing, especially if you and/or your client is not tech savvy.  Plus, I hate taking notes while on the phone; especially, if I'm driving or at a public place and don't have anything to take notes with.  So, I came up with this way so that I NEVER forget a scheduled job or what I quoted them for.

This is how I do it:

  1. Once a lead contacts me to discuss hiring me for work, I setup a phone consultation and quote them over the phone and schedule the work.  Before hanging up the phone, I tell them to text me their email so that I can send them over a contract.
  2. I go to my gmail account and click on "Google Apps" --> "More"--> "Forms".
  3. I select my "Contract" --> "Send"-->  enter in my new client's email --> then, I click "Send".

It's that easy!

Now, what does that all do?

My contract is actually a questionnaire that lists all of the contract criteria while having some "fill in the blank" fields that are required to fill out before completing the contract.  Those fields are:

  • Email Address
  • Phone Number
  • Agreed Upon Fee
  • Address of Job Site
  • Date of Work
  • Time of Work
  • Type of Work (I, personally, have a dropdown menu of selectable job types)
  • "If you agree to all of the terms of the contract above, please type you full name here"
  • "If you have additional information you would like to add to the contract details, please state so here"

What happens with the contract when they fill it out?  I'll give you the simple answers here:

  1. I get an email stating that a contract has been filled out.
  2. I open the email and review all the entered information.
  3. I add the agreed upon time and date to my google calendar with a 24 hour and 3 hour notification of the event.
  4. I send them a digital invoice (I personally use invoice2go) with a 50% downpayment due prior to the date of the work. (I can go into detail on how this works in a future thread)

This... is... awesome!  Now, I don't have to review consultation notes, I don't forget conversation details, and I never miss work... ever.  Plus, this filters out the bad clients that are trying to trick people into free work.

What else does this do???  I build a database of all my previous clients I've worked for in a google spreadsheet and I use that information for email marketing!  I'm actually to the point now that 20% of my monthly work is from previous customers!

Can this get any better??? YEP! (warning: for the very tech savvy only)

I use a service called Zapier... (Another Warning: This is going to blow your mind).  Zapier is an automation service that you can link separate programs to each other to create a string of actions based on initial actions.  This is how it works:

  1. The client fills out the contract.
  2. The contract details are automatically entered into a google spreadsheet.
  3. I built a Zapier link between my contract spreadsheet and my Google Calendar so that when information is updated, it automatically creates an event for me in my Google Calendar automatically. (BOOM!)
  4. I also have a Zapier link between my Google spreadsheet and my digital Invoice service (Invoice2go).  It creates the invoice for me, unfortunately it doesn't automatically send it.  I have to do that on my own.  But, all the details are there and ready to be sent.  I just go to the Invoice2go app --> select the newest invoice --> click "send".  And, that's it!

That's how you build an extremely simple and easy-to-use contract system that is more than just a contract.  It's contracts, customer data, job details, etc.

I hope this information helps all of you pros by making your contract signing process more simple for you and your customers.  If you have questions or comments, please don't hesitate to reply on the thread here.

 

Cheers,

 

Patrick Skinner
CLG Photography
19 responses
DJStevie
Level 12

Re: Contracts Made Easy (Gmail Account Required)

@CLGPatrick

I've been burned as well, but it was a lesson learned several years ago. Since that one time, I now ask for a non-refundable deposit with signed contract. This way it ensures that I get some kind of payment if any cancellation happens.

 

Highlighted
CLGPatrick
Level 7

Re: Contracts Made Easy (Gmail Account Required)

@DJStevie nice.  Ya, I think that's a lesson we all learn early on.  How do you manage your contracts?  Do you use a service, something similar to how I do it, or do you require a paper copy?

Patrick Skinner
CLG Photography
0 Kudos
DJStevie
Level 12

Re: Contracts Made Easy (Gmail Account Required)

@CLGPatrick 

I use paper copy, one that my legal service has drawn up for me to use. It avoids legal issues, especially in this day and age.

CLGPatrick
Level 7

Re: Contracts Made Easy (Gmail Account Required)

@DJStevie 

Do you have them sign the contract on the day of the event, mail it to them, or meet them prior to the event to have it signed?

Patrick Skinner
CLG Photography
0 Kudos
DJStevie
Level 12

Re: Contracts Made Easy (Gmail Account Required)

@CLGPatrick 

After they decide on having me be their DJ, I meet with them on a convenient date for both of us. Paperwork drawn up prior, and then they sign copies for me and them. If event isn't driving distance, paperwork is mailed via certified mail, and they have to return it in a timely manner.  Sure, extra paperwork needed, kind of like you and I purchasing equipment and spending extra time for a warranty. Majority of my customers don't mind and compliment my taking the extra steps to ensure their date and my services are secured.

CLGPatrick
Level 7

Re: Contracts Made Easy (Gmail Account Required)

@DJStevie 

If you find value in doing it that way, then more power to you!  I honestly prefer to make as many automated processes as possible.  While your customers compliment you on your thoroughness, mine do as well.  I also get complimented on my simplicity.  

I look at it this way.  The time it takes to print the contracts, draw up the details, drive over to them (or mail it), drive back, and put the details into my calendar, draw up the invoice, etc.; I could simply automate the entire process and use that time to find another few clients to book.

There are many ways to do this process.  Again, if you find the value in what you do then I would stick to that!

Cheers,

Patrick Skinner
CLG Photography
Moderator Meckell
Moderator

Re: Contracts Made Easy (Gmail Account Required)

Thanks for sharing this @CLGPatrick, I'm sure a lot of other pros will find this information super helpful! 

TheLast10SF
Level 7

Re: Contracts Made Easy (Gmail Account Required)

@Meckell Is Thumbtack ever going to be open to a Zapier integration? For example, when I create a new customer in my accounting system (Wave), Zapier creates a contact on my phone plus a new note (in Evernote). I'd love it if when I get marked as "Hired" in TT, it automatically carried all the contact information into my accounting system. 

Moderator Kameron
Moderator

Re: Contracts Made Easy (Gmail Account Required)

@TheLast10SF I'm not aware of any plans for something like this yet, but Ill make sure to pass along the idea! Smiley Happy