Virtual Assistant Contracts

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Old 02-23-2008
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Contract for one-off jobs necessary?
Hi everyone, Is it necessary to have a contract for one off jobs or just if someone wants you as ongoing? I have only had calls for simple jobs and no-one has asked about signing anything. I have one client who has now said he wants to keep going, should I be sending him a contract? I don't want to scare him away. We have discussed privacy and deletion of his files etc and he seems happy. I will definitely look at the library though and get myself prepared.
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Old 02-23-2008
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Default Re: Necessary Forms...Newbie
I'm not sure how it works for one off jobs as I never done any, but if the relationship is ongoing, then a contract is a must. I know you mentioned that you did not want to scare the client away, but in the best interest of both parties, you should get one to ensure that the terms of service etc are clear to both. In this business you really should not operate without one. I know some people don't like the word 'contract', perhaps you could use 'agreement'? Whatever you call it, get it in black and white.
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Old 02-23-2008
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Default Re: Contract for one-off jobs necessary?
Hi Marie, I would suggest that, at the very least, to protect yourself you use some form of agreement between you and the client. If it's not an actual contract, then a letter of agreement should be minimum - in any case you should have something that details your working arrangements, understandings, rates, policies, late fees, etc. signed (digitally or otherwise) by both you and the client so that if ever there is a sticking point you can direct the client back to it.
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Old 02-23-2008
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Default Re: Contract for one-off jobs necessary?
I always send a contract (I call it a letter of engagement) immediately. Now that I have an agreement I'm happy with, I always end telephone consultations with letting them know that before I commence work with people I have a letter of engagement I ask new clients to sign and get their email address and forward send it to them. A one-off can become regular and I don't want to get into "how come I didn't have to sign this before?". I think it avoids a sticky situation and looks professional.
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Old 02-23-2008
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Default Re: Contract for one-off jobs necessary?
Hi Marie,

I strongly believe that a contract for any work done is necessary to protect both you and the client. I agree with the suggestions posted here to call it a "service agreement" to make it seem less formal and scary. At the very least, the contract should describe the work to be performed and the agreed-upon rate of pay. That way if there's any confusion, you can clear things up right away, before either of you has invested a lot of time or money in the project. Just my two cents; hope that helps!
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Old 02-23-2008
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Default Re: Contract for one-off jobs necessary?
I do a lot of "one-off" jobs as you call it and I usually don't do a contract, but it all just depends on how I feel about the client. If I get an iffy vibe from them then I'll ask for a contract and up-front payment, but in my biz I get a lot of single project jobs especially around tax season and I don't bother with a contract, but I also get paid immediately at time of service.

I do contracts for ongoing jobs that I will be billing out, just so everybody's on the same page as far as terms, pricing, etc. Luckily I've had great clients so far and it's never been an issue, but I learned working in the corporate world that you have to protect yourself. If you don't have a contract and someone decides not to pay you don't have many options legally.
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Old 02-23-2008
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Default Re: Contract for one-off jobs necessary?
Thanks everyone! I like the 'letter of agreement' term. I suppose I could just contact the client and let him know that I wanted to make sure we are both on the same page regarding the work and ask him to contribute to the agreement as well. That way he wouldn't think I am trying to lock him into anything. I'll have to get in the habit (when the clients start coming!) to make sure I have some terms etc. More researching coming up in the document library! Thanks again! Marie
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Old 02-23-2008
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Default Re: Contract for one-off jobs necessary?
For the quick'n'dirty jobs from internet job sites, I've been sending an email that says, Here's what I understand will happen. And then at the end I ask client to reply to the email with "Agreed" in the subject line.
I figure that's not asking for much, though even this is not easy to get sometimes.
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Old 02-23-2008
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Default Re: Contract for one-off jobs necessary?
Ooh! I like that Mary - it is like being a good listener and then repeating back what they said. That way both parties will have input and a record of the agreement on their systems. As always - sometimes the simplest solutions are often the best. Thank you for that - it will work perfectly for the pocket-money jobs that come in (like the quick resume I had to type last week - less than an hour, but she was a lovely lady, so it had benefits!).
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Old 02-24-2008
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Default Re: Contract for one-off jobs necessary?
My letter of agreement is very similar to what Mary does - I have my standard info along with particular info about the client's expectations and a note that their reply to the email constitutes agreement. I don't know if it's necessarily legally binding, but it gives me a record to go back to *just in case*
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Old 02-26-2008
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Default Re: Contract for one-off jobs necessary?
I learned (the hard way of course) not only the importance of having such an agreement/contract in place, but also having it setup to protect ME. My first client had worked with many VAs (should have been a red flag for me). So he already had an agreement he used. Unsuspecting me read it and signed it. It didn't seem unreasonable. What I didn't realize was that it totally protected him and offered me nothing.

Once I no longer wished to be his VA and he decided not to pay my final check I took him into collections. The collections service I worked with was great and offered me this advice.

"Have something in your agreement/contract that specifies that if the client does not pay, not only will the client be repsonsible for the amount due but also any collection or legal fees incurred to collect those payments."

I ended up giving 20% to the agency to collect my money and because I did not have anything in my contract specifying the above, it was a loss for me. Another lesson learned.

I like the idea of having the client work with you in forming the agreement. What I did with my current client was had a draft of my agreement ready and allowed him to add to it. He did not modify anything on my draft but added some things that they require because of the nature of their business. Worked out great for both of us. I feel much better about it too.
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Old 05-29-2008
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Default Re: Contract for one-off jobs necessary?
Originally Posted by Tess View Post
My letter of agreement is very similar to what Mary does - I have my standard info along with particular info about the client's expectations and a note that their reply to the email constitutes agreement. I don't know if it's necessarily legally binding, but it gives me a record to go back to *just in case*
Hi Tess, because email can be traced to an IP address if it goes that far, it can be admissible in court. Some states also accept verbal agreement contracts in small claims court, so and email - which is essentially a digital signature - would be that much better to have.
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Old 05-29-2008
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Default Re: Contract for one-off jobs necessary?
A few of my clients are in sports and entertainment, so really quick deal memos are what we use. I think that it's imperative to have some sort of agreement with one-off clients; you already know that they are one-off with a potential to grow into recurring - so what's their incentive to pay on time if you don't have a written agreement? You can even have some specific terms and conditions added to the bottom of a written quote and have the client sign off on the quote and agreement at the same time and return to you prior to starting the job.

It also lends credibility to your business when you have an agreement, whether it's a deal memo, letter of engagement, or full blown contract.
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Old 01-05-2009
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Default Re: Contract for one-off jobs necessary?
Originally Posted by SupportMyOffice View Post
I learned (the hard way of course) not only the importance of having such an agreement/contract in place, but also having it setup to protect ME. My first client had worked with many VAs (should have been a red flag for me). So he already had an agreement he used. Unsuspecting me read it and signed it. It didn't seem unreasonable. What I didn't realize was that it totally protected him and offered me nothing.

Once I no longer wished to be his VA and he decided not to pay my final check I took him into collections. The collections service I worked with was great and offered me this advice.

"Have something in your agreement/contract that specifies that if the client does not pay, not only will the client be repsonsible for the amount due but also any collection or legal fees incurred to collect those payments."

I ended up giving 20% to the agency to collect my money and because I did not have anything in my contract specifying the above, it was a loss for me. Another lesson learned.

I like the idea of having the client work with you in forming the agreement. What I did with my current client was had a draft of my agreement ready and allowed him to add to it. He did not modify anything on my draft but added some things that they require because of the nature of their business. Worked out great for both of us. I feel much better about it too.
I will remember to use that in my contract. Great advice, thank you.
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Old 02-14-2009
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Default Re: Contract for one-off jobs necessary?
Thanks for all of the information. I had worried about "contracts" and legalise and potentially scaring away my clients. These suggestions will definitely help.

Thanks
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Old 07-21-2010
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Default Re: Contract for one-off jobs necessary?
There must be an agreement that you can show in case of any confusion later. You must stress to the client that it is for their own protection as well.
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