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New Business-Creating Client Agreement

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mindsetNew Business-Creating Client Agreement
by on Jul 31, 2005 at 6:04:23 am

Hello,
Myself and another motion graphics artist recently started a general partnership. We are still is start-up phase, although we have a long list of previous clients from our seperate independant contractor days.

One of the items we are really focusing on is our client agreement or a contract template. Something we can submit to a client after a bid has been accepted, and have them sign on the dotted line.

I've looked at several client agreements from peers, and previous clients, I am curious if anybody has suggestions for articles to include.

I can email our current agreement to anybody interested, if they post a reply with their email address.

Thanks


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Ron LindeboomRe: New Business-Creating Client Agreement
by on Jul 31, 2005 at 3:16:37 pm

I would recommend getting the book "Media Law for Producers" by Philip H. Miller that is published by Elsevier/Focal Press. It goes into things quite in-depth.

You can find the book at Amazon.com by clicking here.

It would do you well to read it, come up with your basic contracts, forms, etc., and then take them to a lawyer for their polishing and feedback before you lock it all in.

Best regards,

Ron Lindeboom







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Seth BloombaumRe: New Business-Creating Client Agreement
by on Jul 31, 2005 at 3:29:47 pm

IMHO it's most important to create a really clear written agreement specifying process, deliverables, production schedule, review schedule (include intermediate reviews!!!), and payment schedule, a complete set of specifications. Should spell out what the client is responsible for and when, including all client-supplied materials and it's always a good idea to ASK how much time they'll need for reviews, then incorporate that into the production schedule.

If you have to go to court to compel payment, you lost the client relationship a long time ago. This is assuming that you can avoid dealing with pond scum. I've only have had that particular problem twice in 25 years, once at an agency and once on my own. In my experience, if you're dealing with pond scum an enforceable contract doesn't help very much.

I think your timing is off: "Something we can submit to a client after a bid has been accepted..." They haven't accepted anything until they've accepted a process, a schedule, their responsibilities to deliver source materials, a review process, AND a bid. Give them this WITH the bid, not after. Price is not the only criteria for a client's decision. This assumes that you're willing to walk away from a client that won't accept your take on specs, schedules, etc. (you SHOULD walk away!!! see "not dealing with pond scum")

Disclaimer
I am not a lawyer and am not qualified to give legal advice. Consult your attorney when preparing contracts, or assessing when a contract may be needed.


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Ron LindeboomRe: New Business-Creating Client Agreement
by on Jul 31, 2005 at 3:47:58 pm


[Seth Bloombaum] "If you have to go to court to compel payment, you lost the client relationship a long time ago. This is assuming that you can avoid dealing with pond scum. I've only have had that particular problem twice in 25 years, once at an agency and once on my own. In my experience, if you're dealing with pond scum an enforceable contract doesn't help very much."

When I read those words, Seth, I just had to chuckle. As you so clearly said, if you are dealing with pond scum, then not even an enforceable contract is going to do you much good. But as you also remarked, clearly outlining what will and will not be done for how much and when, makes for the kind of fence that fulfills the old adage: "Good fences make good neighbors."

Nice post, Seth. Thanks for being a part of Creative Cow. It's an honor to have you here.

Ron Lindeboom
creativecow.net


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George SockaRe: New Business-Creating Client Agreement
by on Aug 2, 2005 at 2:12:26 am

True, but a good contract will reduce the likelihood of pond scum suing YOU.



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Ron LindeboomRe: New Business-Creating Client Agreement
by on Aug 2, 2005 at 3:19:04 am


[George Socka] "True, but a good contract will reduce the likelihood of pond scum suing YOU."

Good point, George. :o)

Ron Lindeboom


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Seth BloombaumRe: New Business-Creating Client Agreement
by on Aug 2, 2005 at 4:02:11 am

I think the trick here is to avoid doing work for the scum that seem to inhabit the fringes of our industry. At least that's the way it seems in the northwest - just a few fringe industry folks and a few fringe clients.

A challenge for me is to listen to that inner voice that's screaming "RUN", usually the inner voice has it right!

I did a few booth shows about a hundred years ago with a trade show manager for a high-tech manufacturer. She was pretty slippery - never skewered anyone, but made a habit of being elsewhere when her poor up-front coordination created problems for the crew, or just not being around when s*#t happened, as it sometimes does.

Well, even then she didn't stay with her employer for that long, those habits didn't just affect us contract media folks, eventually they rolled uphill to the the product marketing people who were her internal clients too. It goes around and comes around.

Glad I've never been sued, though (knock on wood)! But I think a clear written agreement with the client's signature AND scum radar (scumdar?) serves me well. Of course some of the biggest clients will have their own in-house legal departments, and they'll apologize as they tell you that you have to sign it or they can't work with you. I've never been screwed by one of those - I think it all comes back to the scumdar thing.


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Charlie KingRe: New Business-Creating Client Agreement
by on Aug 2, 2005 at 3:32:54 pm

I did a Trade show several years ago. Had everything in writing, he didn't pay. Took him to court, won judgement. Put a lien on his house. He declared bankruptcy, was allowed to keep up to $200,000 over what was owed on house to original martgage, I was erased in bankruptcy court. Another lesson learned, the law protects the criminal against the victim.

Charlie


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