How To Protect Yourself Against Legal Action
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As tradesmen we are well aware of the fact that clients will sometimes try to avoid paying us for our hard work. In some instance’s they may have a point but in most cases it will be no fault of our own, and all of a sudden when we go to get paid the clients will produce this ridiculous snaglist out of nowhere.
If this doesn’t get them the result they want which is probably to just get off the hook with the payment. They may then decide to bring out the old line of – We’re going to be sending you a solicitors letter. Unfortunately many tradesman have the be-jaysus frightened out of them when they hear this. I know I did the first time someone threatened me with it.
I just wanted to get paid for the work that I done, and now I was faced with visions of being in court like that scene with Jack Nicholson from the movie ‘A Few Good Men’ just to get a few grand of which I had paid out most of it myself on materials. Anyways if you find yourself in this situation what you need to know is the way to protect yourself is to factor-in to your business processes a strategy that will protect you if your faced with this dilemma.
What you need to do is have a system where you get all quotations signed by your clients confirming that they are happy to proceed on the basis of the terms and conditions that you have included in your quotation. This is simple enough as a lot of tradesmen will do a version of this, they may not do as good a job with their initial quotation as they can, but they will do their best version.
The second item to include in the processes of your business is a sign-off sheet. When you use a sign-off sheet at the end of the job. You get the client to sign this only when the job is completed and you have it cleared marked on the bottom of the sheet –
DO NOT SIGN THIS DOCKET UNLESS YOU ARE HAPPY WITH ALL WORKS AS COMPLETED.
The magic about getting the job signed off is that it has given a definitive closure to the completion of the works.
This means if the clients try any monkey business later on, and from the legal perspective if you ever find yourself in the court trying to get your money back, the client cannot try claim that you never finished the job. In this instance it will be clear that any issues with the works that are now due to be rectified form part the guarantee / warranty for the works as opposed to the initial job just not being finished. It also has value to help your defence to show that the client in their eyes at least at that moment in time were happy with the works and that they viewed them as completed.
As we know a lot of tradesmen are great with their hands, but not great with the paperwork end of things and they could be a bit weak with setting this type of system in place. To help you out with this I have made available for you a number of documents which I used for years in my own building company. These three essential documents are a site survey sheet, a sign-off sheet and a sample quotation. If you want to get access to these documents you can do so by simply clicking the link below.
Have a great day,
See You At The Top
Here’s your link to access the documents: