Why your client should sign a contract

Should your client sign a contract?

When I started out as a Virtual Assistant I thoroughly researched other VA websites and noticed that many of them mentioned contracts or terms and conditions –  yet when I asked another Virtual Assistant in my area about them she said she never used a contract and simply trusted her clients. So what did I do?

I can tell you that I immediately went online, found a contract template for freelancers and tailored it to my own business – and I have never once regretted it. I’ve since heard many chilling stories from both experienced and new freelancers who’ve had to remedy some ‘misunderstandings’ about what was expected of them. And some of those situations turned quite nasty.

Why do I need a contract?

Although T&C’s and a contract won’t always prevent a client from reneging on your agreement, it definitely helps to prevent any confusion as to what you have been hired to do, timeframes, your payment terms, what your fee does and doesn’t include as well as defining confidentiality. If there are then any later misunderstandings you can refer back to the contract you both signed.

I personally always include my terms and conditions along with a contract. I email them to the client before any work is agreed so they know from the outset how I work and what is expected from both of us.

Then neither of us can claim that we didn’t know what was going on.

Contracts are important for Virtual Assistants because:

  • They’re evidence that your client has read and understood your terms and conditions
  • Even if the client has their own confidentiality doc they show you take their business seriously
  • They make you look more professional
  • You’re covered for copyright infringement
  • There’s no confusion as to what is expected of both parties in regards to payment and timelines
  • You have written evidence if it is (unfortunately) needed at a later date

What if a client won’t sign my contract?

You should be extremely wary of any client that won’t sign a contract or asks to remove a clause. The only client who asked me to remove my overdue invoice charges was the one who never paid on time! He knew he was a late payer and wanted to minimise any financial penalty to himself.

Decent clients will not have a single problem signing your contract. When you get a new client tell them you’ll email over your T&C’s and a contract so they can look over them before they come to sign. I also outline the main points to them verbally (my payment terms actually!) so they’re perfectly clear on what’s what.

How do we actually both sign the contract?

If you have a one-to-one meeting with your new client then either bring two copies of the contract with you, sign both then keep one, or get both of you to sign one copy then take a scan of it with a free Smartphone scanner app for your own records. I use Camscanner but I’m sure there are others.

If you’re not going to meet you client face to face then sign your copy and email it to the client for signature then scan it and send it back or email it via an online digital signature website.

Terms & Conditions

In a way my terms and conditions are more important than my contract because they outline what I will and won’t accept. I make it quite clear how and when I expect to be paid, what expenses I expect covering, my late payment fees, copyright infringement, confidentiality and who has the legal rights to the work etc.

Make sure clients have copies of these and fully understand what is expected from both of you.

If you’re looking for a water-tight contract and other legal and website policies, I’ve teamed up with freelance international contracts lawyer Janet Alexandersson to create all the legal documents that a VA will need whatever stage their business is at. They cover UK< US, Canadian and Australian VAs and are also fully editable, brandable and GDPR compliant. 

7 Comments

VIJAYA SHANTHI

Hi,

I live in New Zealand. I have recently set up my VA website. Looking for a ‘Legal contract (T&C)’ . Kindly advise and assist me in this regard.

Reply
Joanne Munro

I only know where to find UK contracts so I would suggest doing a Google search or asking one of the New Zealand members of my VA Handbookers Facebook group as they will definitely know. x

Reply
Sarah

Hey there,
I have a contract for my clients but what happens when they have a contract they want me to sign? Do we both sign each others contracts?? I’ve just proposed with this and it’s the first time. Usually client just sign mine and if needed I’ve signed a NDA which is fine.
Thanks, Sarah 🙂

Reply
Joanne Munro

Hi Sarah, thank you so much for your message. Contracts can be confusing but yes, if your client wants you to sign their contract as well, then (as long as you are happy with the terms), you should sign it. Just one contract is fine but if you want to sign each others then that’s ok too.

Reply

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