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