Today, I’m gonna get up in your grill about why you need to stop doing work without a contract.

Let’s go.

If I had a nickel for every message that we get about customers not paying, I’d have a shit ton of nickels. We get messages like this all the time about y’all not getting paid, or getting raked over the coals in some other avoidable way.

My answer to all these messages starts with this question: Do you have a contract, or not?

Let me tell you something important. This contract shit is not optional. Stop slamming your junk in the door by not having one – it’s self-imposed pain when you don’t have a contract for the work that you’re doing for people.

I don’t care about the amount of work that you’re doing, something has to be in writing. So, today, I’m gonna share some things from my own experience that you must have in your contract before you do any work whatsoever.

Before we start, here’s a tip: Don’t do shit until you get a contract AND a deposit.

You don’t schedule a job, mobilize your team, order materials, or block out time on the schedule unless you have a signed contract and a deposited check. If customers are not willing to sign the paperwork and put some skin in the game to book some time with you, then you don’t put them on the calendar. And for god’s sake, don’t do any work.

Alright. Let’s get into the meat of it all.

When it comes to a contract, your paperwork has to have these things in it:

  • A Clear Scope
    • What’s included and what’s not included? Get specific. A lot of you guys are opening a big can of whoop-ass on yourself because you refuse to sit down and take the time to do this. Then, you wonder why you’re broke year after year.
  • Clear Pricing
    • What does it fucking cost? If there are unforeseen conditions, how are you going to handle those conditions? You have to be clear on your pricing and how you plan on handling everything.
  • Clear Payment Terms
    • When do customers owe you money? When will you get that money? What happens if they don’t pay you on time? A lot of you actually have contracts and clear payment terms, but you don’t actually enforce the terms. Quit being the nice guy. You can’t expect your customers to follow your terms if you don’t follow them yourself.
  • Timing Expectations
    • A lot of you will say that you can’t predict how long your work’s going to take. Well, then guess what? It’s time to find a new profession. If you’re gonna be a professional at anything, you know how long anything is going to take – within reason. You can map it out on a calendar and reverse engineer the progress of each day. If you’re not willing to do that and put it in writing, then you’re not ready to be a business owner. This is one of the lowest-hanging fruits for you to provide a great experience for people. Guarantee your scheduling – with conditions, of course. It’s refreshing to a customer because they’re undoubtedly tired of getting dragged around by unreliable contractors who don’t have a plan.
  • Additional Work Process
    • What happens if we come across unforeseen conditions? We will call a time-out, and we’ll have the conversation. We will not do any additional work without a signed new contract for the additional work, and in some cases, you should insist on getting your deposit before you do that additional work. When you have these things dialed in, you’ll have less problems later on with bickering customers, slow/no pays, getting sued, and all that bullshit.

There are probably a lot of you out there who are confused on how to make one of these contracts. It’s simple. Just head to Google.

Let’s say you’re a hardwood flooring contractor. All you gotta do is go to Google and type in ‘contracts for hardwood flooring contractors.’ There will be plenty of examples and templates that come up. Even better yet, go to your association of hardwood flooring contractors and search their website – they probably have contracts there for your industry. If they don’t, that’s when you call your attorney – in fact, call your attorney anyway. You should have them check your contract and make sure it’s protected and all your bases are covered. We’re playing defense here.

Too many of y’all are waiting for people to hand shit to you. That’s not how this works. You’ve probably figured out a lot of things in your life, and you can figure this out, too.

The last thing you wanna do is get in a pissing match with a customer. Even worse, you don’t want to be in a pissing match with a customer without having a leg to stand on.

When people send us questions about dealing with difficult situations, our first response is to ask what their contract says. And when they say that they don’t have a written contract, we say: ‘Sorry, you’re fucked. You’re gonna get what you get at this point.’

A huge way that you steal from your family is to not have a proper contract in place. You know better. Make sure that doesn’t happen.