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Title: Penalties in Contracts???
Post by: scottstephens on July 26, 2021, 02:34:18 PM
Hey All,

   I guess I am doing some research and thinking. I was approached about running sound for what has become a new client for an event in the fall.  The first time I worked with them I submitted a contract with all the standard particulars.  But when I arrived, the door was locked, there was a bunch of crap in the way of the performance area, and power was a little sketchy.  It was there, just 80 feet away.  I called and was given the lock code, I moved the 20 plants,  piano and had several long 12 gauge powers cables because this ain't my first rodeo.
   Of course, I was running a little late after doing all that and the director and powers that be were little hacked. I professionally and patiently explained the locked door, stuff in the way,  and Yada Yada Yada.  They begrudgingly, accepted the responsibility. After the show, everyone raved about the audio. yahoo.  On the way home,  I told my wife "next time I am bringing help because that was way too difficult just moving stuff."

   So, now that I've been asked about it again.  Should I mention the obstacles from before and how do I say have the place unlocked, someone there and have the crap out of the way or pay me lots more.  Honestly, if they give me the code to the lock I don't need anyone there and that is preferable.  But I shouldn't have to move crap. How do you guys word penalties ?

Thanks, Scott
Title: Re: Penalties in Contracts???
Post by: Brian Jojade on July 26, 2021, 04:39:51 PM
If you price your services accordingly, a few little pain in the ass things are no big deal, and you learn to ignore them.

But, with a contract, it's important to detail what IS important to you.  Things like knowing where power is should be detailed before you get to the venue.  Power 80 feet away is annoying, but way better than many venues provide.

Building access time definitely is one that needs to be spelled out in the contract. It's best to have that initialed as well, so there is absolutely no question as to what time someone is supposed to be there to let you in.  If they are 30 minutes late letting you in, then the show starts 30 minutes late with no fault to you.  (now, obviously, you'd likely bust ass a little and try to start as close to on time as possible, but that's just work ethic.)

Personally, I like to have floor plans laid out as well, showing where gear is expected to go, and what sort of space requirements are needed.  If I got there and 20 plants were on stage, yeah, that would suck. If there was someone else at the venue, I'd certainly let them know. I'd even be there to lend a hand getting it out of the way if necessary.  When you're there by yourself, there's less choice, and you just gotta do what it takes to make the show happen.

Yeah, having extra charges for grossly inaccuracies for the event is acceptable, but sometimes it's just easier to set your pricing based on how hard you're willing to work for any event, and consider the ones that don't have those issues the easy money.

Again, the best way to head these problems off is to make sure communication lines are open BEFORE arriving.  The more you have in writing, the easier it is.  Giving a simple phone call to clarify a couple days out goes a long way too.  Yeah, sometimes people forget stuff without that little reminder.
Title: Re: Penalties in Contracts???
Post by: Luke Geis on July 26, 2021, 09:49:41 PM
Including penalties in a contract is probably a good way to lose a client when you start listing off the extra charges that they incurred because they were too lazy to read things. It is often easier or more prudent to talk to the client and mention your needs and concerns. I need access to the building at X time in order to be ready in time and the space I need to set up in needs to be ready for me. An easy way to abate most issues is to get a signed estimate or invoice that clearly states your arrival time and add a note that says the space needs to be cleared by the client. If they don't, you do some extra work, but when the event doesn't start on time, you have had a physical conversion and provided as much communication as you can that states your needs from them. 
Title: Re: Penalties in Contracts???
Post by: Dave Pluke on July 26, 2021, 10:32:17 PM
I need access to the building at X time in order to be ready in time and the space I need to set up in needs to be ready for me.

Agreed. It's much better to state things in a positive manner, rather than adding penalty and/or "NO" clauses. I would place the above text IN BOLD at the top of the Agreement.

@scott - I would have a conversation with the person signing the contract, to remind them of the last experience and how important it will be to avoid a repeat performance to make sure their event is a success.