Imagine this scenario – You discuss a change to a job/project/service with your client. You both agree on what was discussed. You go ahead and action as per what was discussed. And then, things don’t go to the agreed plan. You are blamed. You are not paid. You are discredited. You lose other quoted or planned work.
What did you do wrong? Why are you being blamed / not paid for your services?
This situation is not uncommon, particularly for new business owners. These are businesses who are working hard to grow a client base, build relationships, and build a business. Unfortunately, these businesses are often targeted by unscrupulous people.
How do we avoid these situations and ensure who is responsible for what?
Verbal agreements are what I call “grey” communication. So, how do we avoid this “grey” area of communication that can cause hardship to business owners? By ensuring that our communication is “black and white”.
I cannot stress highly enough how important documenting every single interaction with a client that affects the service you provide in any way. Be it a change to a service provided to a client, a change to the scope of a building project, a change to a different way of providing the service or building the product, any change at all, any confirmation or authorisation at all – needs to be confirmed in writing.
Signed and confirmed documentation makes business projects and services “black and white” – reduces confusion and misinterpretation, makes it clear who does what, when, and how. It improves cash flow to a business. It improves creditability in your industry. It takes any emotions out of a transaction.
If it is a service you provide, ensure your Engagement Letter is reviewed and any changes updated, reissued, and signed by both parties. If it is a change to developing a product, be it a building, software, etc, a formal scope change document signed by both parties, and at a minimal level, an emailing, with confirm-receipt turned on, confirming any discussions.
It really makes business life so much simpler by implementing this documentation as part of your service delivery. You will have a better relationship with clients, you will receive more referrals by word of mouth, and your cash flow will improve.
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