You provide a valuable service to your clients. Part of that service should be a solid contract that lays out everyone’s responsibilities in a transparent, enforceable manner. Contracts help make sure you get paid and reduce surprises along the way. Most importantly, you can spend less time resolving disputes, and more time actually running your business.
In other words: An effective service contract helps you increase transparency, reduce conflict, and minimize the chances of an expensive legal battle.
This is a contract between your business and your clients which defines the terms and conditions of your relationship. It ensures that both parties understand their rights and duties in the agreement before entering into a transaction, and helps prevent future misunderstandings.
Many variations of service provider contracts exist, and they are often tailored to the specific service being offered. For purposes of illustration, we’ll assume that you own a pool maintenance and cleaning business.
The parties are identified, and the effective date of the contract is recited.
The section presents a detailed explanation of the services provided- and importantly what is not provided. In this case, it would describe pool maintenance and cleaning activities. It would be precise about what constitutes maintenance and cleaning.
For example, a pool pump may be maintained by replacing a filter every six months. However, if the pump stops working, this may be classified as a repair, not maintenance, and be subject to an additional repair fee. The frequency of the service is also outlined—e.g., either weekly or monthly.
This clause may also put forth conditions to the service being provided. For example, assume many of your clients are wealthy and live in a gated community. The contract could specify that the client needs to provide timely access by opening or unlocking the gate. If your employee waits for more than 30 minutes behind the gate without being granted access, then they are entitled to leave and the client must still pay your service fee.
The weekly or monthly fee is listed, as well as invoicing details such as payment deadlines. Other provisions include penalties for late-payments and hourly rates for additional services the client may request.
This provision doesn’t directly apply to our example, but it’s still important to highlight.
Whenever the work being performed requires sharing confidential information–proprietary processes, technologies, methodologies, etc.–it’s important to ensure that the sensitive information will not be disclosed or shared elsewhere.
This can apply to either the service provider or the client themselves. If you will be disclosing any sensitive information to the client, you want to ensure that they do not use or disclose that information to others (especially a competitor). If the client will be disclosing sensitive information to you, demonstrating that you will protect their information can establish trust in your service and quickly ease their concerns.
In many cases, liability will be limited to the cost of services provided. For example, if a client’s pool pump happens to break while your employee is performing routine maintenance, then it’s very likely that replacing the pump costs more than your service fee for that day. With appropriate language, the contract could limit its liability to the cost of providing that day’s pool maintenance and cleaning, not the total replacement cost of the pump.
This clause discusses the conditions under which the agreement ends. For example, in periodic pool maintenance and cleaning service agreement, the contract could be terminated by either party with 30-days’ notice.
In the event of a dispute, it’s likely in your best interest to attempt resolving it without going to court. Therefore, you can include language stating that any disagreement arising from the agreement will be resolved in mediation or arbitration.
Having a service provider contract is essential for several reasons. It can help you collect payment when a client refuses to pay, and in general, prevents avoidable misunderstandings. It also helps the client understand their responsibilities under the agreement.
In other words, the service provider contract helps minimize surprises for everyone involved and lays a strong foundation for your client relationship moving forward.
Carson Law is here to help with all phases of your business’ growth and success, which includes drafting a service provider contract.