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Be specific

In my last post, I was pointing out the difference between being a contractor and entering into a contract. Most sales people will try to avoid using the word contract like the plague. But in truth, it does not matter what you call it. An agreement, a proposal … it's still a contract. It's a legally binding set of conditions that must be met by both parties involved.

I learned the hard way that your contract needs to be as specific as possible in spelling out exactly what you will provide and exactly what you will get in return. There is a tendency to think that a specific set of stipulations might scare off a prospective client and that it would be better to go with a simpler, more benign looking document. And that might indeed be the case. But this is a trap and it can be a nasty one. The more that is left to interpretation, the more likely it is that you will run into trouble.

One of the first things I learned is to carefully list every piece that will be delivered, including trim pieces, appliance panels, kick plates, hardware items, etc. I got very specific about this, listing room-by-room and wall-by-wall each unit and its accompanying accessory pieces. My lesson on this came from my initial practice of simply stating "all cabinetry as shown on plans provided by…" But I quickly learned that the shelving in the closet that you did not include could be presumed to be included by the client.

I began to list cabinets by the foot: So many L.F. base cabinets, etc. But there was the time when a client told my that I owed him 2 L.F. of cabinets because he had measured everything and it all tallied up to two feet short of what I had stated. The fact that this was accountable by virtue of the fact that none of the cabinets were exactly "x” feet long, having been held back a few inches from corners and door and window jambs, was not a sufficient argument to prevent me from having to make him another 2’ cabinet for his garage. So I began to add (+/) after each item.


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