One of the most frequent questions I am asked involves what to include in a contract. Last #TuesdayTips I talked about where to go next in your business career, so this week it only seemed fitting to discuss the 6 essential elements of a client contract.
1. Retainer vs. Deposit
The difference between a retainer and a deposit is simple: deposits are refundable. A retainer, however, can be made non-refundable. Verbiage is everything. Simply calling it a retainer does not mean it’s non-refundable. Make sure you clearly spell out the refund policy and timelines while working on your contracts. Personally, I always choose retainer, but the choice is yours.
I wanted to break it down even further, so I searched for the actual definitions on Google.
Retainer: A fee paid in advance to someone in order to secure or keep their services when required.
Security deposit: A deposit is a payment towards goods or services, usually returned once the goods or services have been acquired.
2. Force Majeure
The definition for this is unforeseeable circumstances that prevent someone from fulfilling a contract. This is to give protection for you and your client in the event of tragedy or change. What exactly is tragedy? That can include a long list of things including: death of immediate family member, extreme weather conditions, birth of a child, and others. A stipulation that I like to include in my contracts is that Force Majeure conditions are determined by me.
3. Working Hours
It is so hard to create 'working hours’ in the beauty industry. We tend to work weekends, late nights, early mornings, and a little bit of everything in between. It’s very important to set aside time that you’re going to dedicate to working, and times that you’re going to dedicate to rest. This way you’re not working 14-hour days without getting the payment you deserve. For instance, my working hours, especially with bridal, are from 8a-5p. Anything outside of my normal working hours hasa different pay rate.
4. Travel Fees
YOU are your business. That means your car is your business, your gas is your business, mileage, and other various expenses. Get paid accordingly. I have free travel within 10 miles of my zip code. Tolls and parking fees must be reimbursed. Do some research based on your area to get an idea of what appropriate charges will be for your fees. Living in a city setting means that 10 miles covers a lot of ground. The government reimbursement rate for mileage in 2019 is $0.58 per mile.
5. Liability/Responsibility for Allergies
Clients do not always know what they’re sensitive or allergic to, we know this. We’re usually lucky if they just remember the history of their skin and hair. This is why it’s important to remove yourself from any liability. In my contracts, I make sure my clients note everything they’re allergic to. I also do my part to make things safe for my clients by focusing heavily on sanitation. I make sure to always have hand sanitizer available, I use 70 proof alcohol, and religiously clean my brushes in addition to keeping my kit clean and tidy, just to name a few. Because I am diligent about these things, I’m significantly less liable for any issues that may arise after I use my products on someone in case any allergies present themselves that I was not made aware of.
6. Payment deadlines (And how to get paid)
This one seems obvious, right? Wrong. This part often goes unmentioned. In my contracts, I make sure I am transparent when it comes to pricing. From my retainer all the way down to the schedule and when additional payments are expected. I then require the remaining balance to be paid in full two weeks prior to the wedding date. For photoshoots, most shoots run on the Net15 or Net30 System. This means that the client will pay in full on or before the 15th or 30th calendar day on which the invoice was received. For payments, I accept cash, credit cards (through Square), PayPal, and Venmo. I do not take personal checks. It’s important to note in your contract who you should be receiving the payments from. It is also incredibly pertinent to make sure you create a refund policy that is clearly stated.
Lastly, I wanted to include the most important bit of advice.. seek an attorney for guidance and to make sure your contract can hold up in a court room. I hope these little #TuesdayTips have been helpful. Always feel free to message me on Instagram or e-mail me with questions!