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Posted by: Paul Weatherhead



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Some newly qualified technicians might hesitate to jump into AV freelancing. This hesitation is probably due to urban myths of hard work that went unpaid, or misunderstandings that broke professional reputations. But while these nightmare scenarios of working for AV companies are real threats, AV freelancers do have rights to protect their livelihood.

No matter if you’re working on a short or long-term project for an AV company, you are at risk without providing transparent payment terms. Your contract with a project manager should be crystal clear on how and when you will be paid for the work you’re providing their company. Remember that without you (and other AV freelancers like you) AV projects can’t be completed properly.

Want to know the three biggest risks are of not providing payment terms? Read on for worst-case scenarios that a proper contract can prevent.

1. Nonpayment

AV freelancers these days are lucky that they have online contract tools at their disposal. You might not have a traditional paper trail to follow, since many clients prefer to do business online to promote a streamlined process. But you still have ways to easily communicate what your payment terms are so that you aren’t left in the lurch. Being firm about when and how you’re paid (i.e. half upfront, half at the end) will cut back on disreputable clients who might approach you with job offers.

2. Scapegoating/Loss of Reputation

If you encounter clients that gripe about how thorough your payment terms are, always let them know that your terms protect them as well as yourself. You need to make certain that the client knows what work they’ll receive for whatever price you’re charging. Lack of clarity regarding what tasks you’ll be completing for your client can lead to dangerous misunderstandings.

When negotiating pricing and conditions of payment, ensure that the client will provide you with the necessary AV design plans, schematics, bills of material, etc. to get the job done. Some project managers will blame you for their incompetence, to get out of their own issues of accountability. Word can travel far amongst AV companies if you’re reputation is tarnished by an executive. Don’t lose out on future work because you were unfairly scapegoated.

3. No Contingencies for Worst Case Scenarios

Lastly, when AV freelancers don’t provide proper payment terms, you can’t prevent messy situations that can lead to either of the above types of worst-case scenarios. You need to have terms that protect your interests in the case something changes.

One example of a term that can prevent nonpayment from clients who try to disengage early is to include a term that they must pay for work already completed. This term is vital, called an “early termination fee” or a “kill fee” especially in cases where you’ve signed on to a long-term AV project transforming a construction site into a client-occupied space. All the hard work you’ve done to help ensure continued buy-in to the AV project by clients can’t go unpaid.

Now that you know the risks involved in not providing payment terms, make sure you always take extra care to include them in your contracts. You know what your technical expertise is worth to AV companies—let them know by providing clear payment terms.

Paul Weatherhead

Paul Weatherhead

Prior to founding AV Junction Inc., Paul worked for a tier one AV systems integrator in an operational management capacity for 10 years. His knowledge and experience have helped him oversee hundreds of system integration projects in a variety of industries. Paul’s leadership skills as matched by his sense of humour and easygoing nature. When he’s not at work, you can find him outdoors, exploring new places or spending time with family and friends.

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