What is a contract and why should you have one?
Ok, this is a question I’ve seen crop up quite a lot recently, especially with private Halloween bookings, so I thought I would take the opportunity to talk about it! I know it’s not the most exciting of topics, but it is so important to understand. I know a lot of face painters don’t have them, I don’t think I had one for quite a while. I had a booking form to make sure I had all the information about any given booking, but that was about it. After a couple of incidents however, I decided I needed a contract. I had one for hair and makeup bookings, so why not one for face painting? It’s nowhere near as in-depth, but it is just as important to have!
So what is a contract? In the UK, ‘a contract is a written or spoken agreement, especially one concerning employment, sales, or tenancy, that is intended to be enforceable by law’. And yes, you did read that right, a contract in the UK can be a spoken agreement, but it’s best to have it in writing as well just in case! This does NOT have to be created by a solicitor, but you can have it looked over or even created with a solicitor if you’re not sure. If you are going to be doing a lot of sub-contracting or running your business as an agency, I would highly recommend getting your contract looked over by a solicitor at the very least.
Your terms and conditions should set out your expectations for the client, and what the client should expect from you. My terms and conditions include when payments are due, how I expect payments to be made, and what happens if either party decides to cancel the booking. My terms and conditions also include other expectations of the client, e.g if one of the guests of the event breaks any of my equipment, you as the host/contractee are expected to pay for it (it’s worded much better in my t’s and c’s though!). There is a story behind every clause in my contract, and I do tweak it every now and again, for example, in my bridal hair and makeup contract, I had to introduce a clause saying that I needed to be made aware of any surprises the partner or any other guest of the event may be planning for the bride which may affect the timings of my services. It’s a long story so I won’t bore you, but I’m more than happy to tell you about it if you really want to know!
You need to work out what specific t’s and c’s work for you and how you operate, I’m not a lawyer so I can’t give legal advice! I personally have my t’s and c’s tagged on at the end of my booking form, which contains all the information for that specific booking. They don’t need to print it off and sign it, but they do need to confirm in an email that they agree that the information provided is correct and that they agree to the t’s and c’s. This makes the contract legally binding. You can also include in your contract that payment of the deposit acts as an agreement to the contract.
Contracts protect both you AND the client. I haven’t personally ever been questioned about anything in my contract, and ok, it might take a bit of time to create initially, but once it’s done, you can copy and paste it, and amend it for each client depending on the booking. I know this isn’t potentially the most interesting blog post ever, but it’s really important to protect yourself and your business.
I hope you have all had an incredible Halloween, and are now all busy with Christmas and New Year bookings coming in!