Over the years, I’ve done a lot of mentoring with other stationery designers. Recently, I went through some questions about contracts with a fellow designer. During that conversation, there were three points that came up that I thought would be good for other designers to know too! So, here we go…here are three things that you should consider including in your stationery contract with a client.
To some this might seem like a no-brainer, but I know there is an emotional side to this issue too. When a client signs the contract and provides you a deposit, you are holding a spot in your schedule for them. You have spent time meeting with them, doing designs and prepping the contract. You have probably had phone calls and/or exchanged emails with them. Therefore, you have invested your valuable time and perhaps have ordered supplies to complete their invitations. But, then, you get a phone call or email from a wedding planner saying that your client has decided to cancel the wedding. Dagger! In your contract, it clearly states that your deposit in non-refundable. So, you are not required to give back that deposit. But, taking into account the emotional impacts of this situation, you always have the option of providing a partial refund, depending on circumstances. Don’t sell yourself short, but a little compassion could go a long way in the future too!
Language About Proofs
I insist on providing clear responsibilities for my client in the contract, related to proofs. I explain that it is their responsibility to ensure everything is spelled correctly, formatted to their liking and to not assume anything. I also tell them that if any changes are required after proof approval has been provided, there will be additional charges. Of course, the language is more in depth, but ensure you have this included in your contract AND send the same language to your clients with the proofs also.
In your contract, you probably included a date that the order will be completed. Through the years, I’ve realized that clients get very fixated on that date and if for any reason, that specific day isn’t met, the client is going to feel let down and could affect their overall impression of you as a vendor. To avoid this scenario, I provide clients with a delivery window — typically a week — in which the order will be completed. I find this helps me with workflow planning, because on my personal delivery schedule I put the first date of that window and work to completing that order by that date. BUT, for if any reason, I need more time, I have a buffer and the client is still going to be happy with the end result. My motto is always “under-promise and over-perform”!
Happy Contract Writing!!!
(And, just want to note that, I am by no means a lawyer and would recommend that any designer have their contract reviewed by a lawyer to ensure it is correct and complete.)