Every AV freelancer should possess a legal contract or paper trail for every project they work on. Even if you are very meticulous when tracking your progress, you cannot guarantee your client will show the same attention to detail. Worst of all, once in a while you might work with a client who will blame freelancers for their own incompetence or try to get free work.
The basic premise of having work contracts in place is to build a trusting relationship between AV freelancers and their clients. The projects AV freelancers work on are often large in scope or at least a very involved process. After all, a lot of businesses these days require an overhaul or retrofit of their infrastructure to achieve the AV solutions they want. The last thing you want is nonpayment for the services you provided.
Still not completely sure you need a paper trail? Well then check out the most significant reasons why AV freelancers should have legal contracts below.
As previously mentioned, issues of nonpayment with AV freelancers can happen. You might have a heart of gold and want to assume good intentions, but in some cases clients might be in a desperate position (or believe they are) and will try to get good AV work for free. And since there’s no equivalent of wage-theft laws that protect permanent employees, AV freelancers aren’t necessarily in the best position. Until there are serious legal repercussions for freelance wage-theft, it’s up to freelancers to keep clients responsible with legal contracts.
The work you do for clients in the AV industry involves a lot of time spent on design, keeping regular communication with clients (which should also be documented if possible), and a lot of manual labour or professional services. Plus, AV technology purchase orders aren’t cheap!
Make sure to outline the consequences of late payment and nonpayment in your contracts. Your legal contract should hold the client accountable if a situation arises where the client no longer requires your services, or if they have not held up their end of the deal. One way to do this is with a kill fee, which is an amount charged on firing your client.
Scope Creep Insurance
Scope creep can easily affect short- or long-term AV projects. Scope creep is when the goals and expectations of a project balloon beyond the scope of what was initially promised to a client. In other words, you could end up doing a couple extra thousand dollars-worth of work but not receive any additional payment.
When you set up a legal contract, ensure that you include a detailed outline of your duties as an AV freelancer. You and your client need to be crystal clear on the requirements of the project and set the expectations for goals. Include a scope creep clause if you want extra insurance against clients trying to get extra work on the cheap.
If you have the misfortune to work with a client who tries to blame their incompetent management on you, your legal contract will give you protection.
A legal contract is something that protects both you and your client. You need to ensure you’re paid and appreciated for your hard work and your client needs to ensure that you will complete their AV project. With a contract in place and a paper trail of communication attached to the facilitation of that contract, both parties should come out satisfied.
But make sure you stick to your contract. Even if you are working for a well-known client, it’s important to make no exceptions. Remember: there’s no way to tell what position your client is in. If they try to renegotiate, just remind them that the legal contract is to mitigate risk for the both of you.