Back-to-back client calls Tuesday morning brought up the same issue–inadequate results from contracted work. After hearing my clients’ frustration with their vendors and brainstorming action steps to move forward, they were still left with two challenges:

  1. Disappointment with the referred vendor
  2. Indecision regarding payment

In one case a designer failed to please the client’s aesthetic. In the other, a writer missed the mark on a bio she submitted. Who’s to blame? Do you still pay, and if so, how much? Further, how do you prevent this from happening again in your future?

For those of you who are pulling out your notepads to jot down my pearls of wisdom, sorry. There are no short answers to this because there are always extenuating circumstances. Each situation needs to be handled individually. But you can take precautions and follow certain principles.

Most important: Address the issue with the vendor directly. Tell him/her of your unhappiness and say what you would like to have happen. From this point the conversation can go in many directions. My advice is to be sure to have it.

Second, what you can take control of is how the work arrangement is set up in the beginning. And that means creating a written document. Here’s a mantra for you: Reduce all deals and business agreements to writing. A Letter of Agreement needs to be a standard template you keep in your files for all future business relationships.

You’ve heard the saying, “A short pencil is better than a long memory.” Having the terms written out, how much/by when/kill fee, etc.  gives you something to refer back to. Keep it simple, but do it.

With no written agreement you may get stuck with the bill. However, that $50 or $5000 may be money well-spent. I often say to my clients, “It just cost you $500 to learn that course towards your MBA.”

I’d be very interested to hear your stories on this subject, particularly ones that came out happily. Curious minds want to know.

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