In consideration of the mutual agreement set forth in this contract, both agency leaders and workshop leader Dave Fenlon hereby agree to participate in today’s session.
If that intro wasn’t clear enough – today’s meeting discussed the importance of agency to client contracts and from an agency point of view it was a fantastic opportunity to hear directly from the source, understanding their views in regards to contract scope.
With agency and client relationships getting shorter and shorter, (roughly correlating with the average length of your first marriage). Ultimately implementation of a contract is getting more and more important. Agencies are finding more often than not that clients require mid way revisions and this session acted to offer solutions to possible relationship issues.
The workshop began with the question, why do we have contracts? Predominantly it’s a chance for you to discuss your working relationship with your client. Setting scope of service from the initial take will help avoid complications later on. Formalising an agreement in writing allows you to explain what they should expect from your service, fees and T&C’s.
Dave began by explaining a number of contract clauses in depth and discussed the importance of including an entire agreement clause as this is consistently overlooked. This section is usually an addition to prevent statements or representations that are not initially set out in a written agreement from having contractual force and also restricts liability for claims based on misrepresentation. Many agencies include a service level agreement (SLA), where aspects of the service and responsibilities of both parties are clearly agreed. Any statement of work schedule (SLA) should have a procedure on what happens if the requirements agreed up front by both parties change. It avoids nasty shocks to agencies.
Terminating a contract with just 30 days notice? Immediate response from the agency side was a straight up no! Of course client side had explained that this has become more common helping agencies win the deal. Get out clauses were discussed and several solutions are currently being used successfully, from 3-month breaks to incorporation of percentage termination fees. It’s key to relay your contracts specifics in terms of terminations and get out clauses. We’ve included five negotiation techniques to help with such situations.
- Lead the conversation on what is included and what isn’t
- Always refer to the brief
- If a client wants to own the IP – They need to pay for it
- Future work needs a sign off budget. If a budget isn’t guaranteed add an out of scope section
- Tone- Appear to be flexible and be clear on deal breakers
Generally it was agreed that we shouldn’t treat all clients the same, we should let the client dictate the structure of a contract. The bigger the client the longer the contract and it may be that if you’re working with a large organisation that you need to tailor elements of your standard contract to suit the company, working with your client to formalise a contract. In terms of T&C’s, you may find that the larger clients have their own set that they require you to follow.
Dave was clear in pointing out that as the agency its important not to shy away from those uncomfortable topics, such as fees. Successful contracting is about making your terms clear from the start. One agency leader had said by adding the client’s responsibilities to the contracts appendix this has been an effective way of communicating responsibilities and doing this in a language they can easily understand makes their role as clear as possible and don’t forget to explain the fee and contract procedure incase of a clients needs or brief changing.
Being clear from the off set will really help to avoid contractual complications and encourage relationship longevity.
Signed. Claire Sherriff, BMC Marketing Executive Date. 07.09.2017