When I went to write this post, I thought, Well, that’s cheating: I’m going to say exactly the same things I said about crafting a cash-flow positive client contract.
But this makes total sense.
Why? Because a great client contract does both things for your business. It helps you keep more money. And it helps your business run more smoothly.
Let’s take a look. Here are the essentials of a cash flow positive contract I recommend. How do they also make your business run more smoothly?
1. Cash Flow Positive Revenue Model
You know what that feels like, right? Like you’re walking around with one leg shorter than the other. You are constantly stopping and starting, moving from marketing to client service and back again, and feeling like you never get ahead. You can’t plan any regular investments in your business because you don’t know what your income will be month to month. And you’re putting a lot of energy into constantly engaging new clients. (It takes a lot more time and effort and resources to engage new clients than to serve your existing clients on an on-going basis.)
With a cash-flow positive revenue model, you can plan. You can invest in your business. And . . . wait for it . . . you can take a vacation. Or even just a day off. You’re not slave to the constant resource investment of engaging new clients, and the constant stress of facing unpredictable revenue each month.
2. Clear Scope of Work (and Scope Creep Provision)
You also want a go-to provision that tells you what will happen if scope exceeds what you’d originally imagined. Establish the procedure ahead of time and save both you and your client confusion and stress.
3. Missed Appointment Fees (or Additional Charge for Client Delay)
This one just seems obvious. Every time you have to shift tasks, you lose focus and time. Some of us are better at reprioritizing and refocusing than others, but it impacts all of us. (Personally, I’m thrown off and slow to recalibrate, and I run my businesses in a way that respects and accounts for this. I’ve found if I don’t, my clients don’t get my best.)
Missed appointment fees and additional charges may appear to be about plugging money leaks, but I’ve found they are exceedingly good deterrents to veering off course. They effectively solidify a commitment. In my experience, clients are happy to keep appointments and deliver timely information to avoid an additional expense. It seems we all have some preference for doing as we planned where both our time and our money are concerned.
4. Stop Work Provision
The same thing can be said about a stop work provision: it is an exceedingly good deterrent to veering off course.
It also provides you and your client a plan (ahead of time) of what will happen (and what to do) if things don’t go as planned. The best stop work provisions outline how to get started again.
If you have an agreed upon plan already in place, you’ll avoid time and anxiety spent asking, What do I do now?
5. One Additional Thing: A Clear Outline of the Process
Clients love to know how to work with you. Let them know not just what you’re going to do with them and for them, but how you’re going to do it, and you’ve provided so much additional value to them right there.
You’ve also saved yourself time in responding to process-oriented email questions and in managing any loss in your client’s confidence.
Take their hand. Your client contract—together with the materials you provide to engage and serve your clients—can do this for you.
I didn’t realize before we worked together that I could use my client contract to guide clients through the process of working with me. Nor did I realize that the process of writing my contract would give me new clarity about how I really want to work. I cannot stress enough, Rebecca, how valuable our back & forth in crafting this was to me.
Erica Midkiff, www.ericamidkiff.com
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