What Timescales Should I Include?

Copies of my new book How to Write Simple and Effective Consultant Appointments in Just 500 Words [read more] have been prompting contacts, clients and friends to actually sit down and review their existing contracts.

Bill Evans from D2E said “I must say, it was easy and compelling reading. The contents provides so much guidance for the consultant… The checklist at the end makes the whole process simple.” Like most consultants Bill knows his industry (lifts and escalators) inside and out. He has worked with clients large and small, in the UK and beyond. He has also seen some shocking contracts in his time…

After reading the book, Bill reviewed his existing T&C and decided to make a few changes and we are working on creating something simple, user-friendly, robust and clear.

How much time?

He also asked great questions like these:

  • How many days before payment should our clients send us a written ‘pay-less notice’? [chapter 10]
  • How many days after we send our invoice should we wait before we get paid? [chapter 10]
  • How many days before performance should our clients be allowed to cancel? [chapter 14]
  • How many days’ notice should either party give if they want to end or terminate the contract? [chapter 20]

Under English law, the principle of freedom to contract means the answer is whatever period you like! If you say nothing, then you or your client have to carry out tasks in a reasonable time.

What should you do?

Many companies try and second-guess what others have in their agreements. But your company, your clients, your services, your values, your internal procedures and your requirements are unique. Why try and be like some other company?

My suggestion is to start with the days or periods you would really like, and negotiate if your client has a good reason why she cannot comply in that time. I know companies who have inadvertently agreed to over 180 days for payment, and other who want payment by return.

A good plan is to know what you want and only negotiate it if they provide something in return (I recently doubled my fee as my client insisted on its payment terms!).

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