Why Reading Through Proposals and Contracts Is More Than Just About Price

Contracts at workplace

With any creative service business, one of the most significant considerations in partnership is the price. Of course, budgets and pricing matter – you should never sign on for more money than you can afford no matter how great that company might be for your project. At the same time, fishing for a business that will come under budget for your project only for the sake of saving money can present its own host of problems.

Before we get too far, Monzo Media Productions is not a law firm, so this blog does not offer any legal advice. Instead, I want to help you realize that contracts are more than just pricing. It’s wonderful if a business can fit into your budget, but it’s important that expectations beyond the budget are discussed at length before you sign the contract.

What Else Is In A Creative Service Contract?

First things first: the proposal, quote, and contract are different things. You should receive a proposal first to get a feel for how the business will meet the needs of your project and if your visions align. They should also give you an idea of their pricing so you can decide if more serious talks about entering an agreement with them are necessary. On another note, it’s also important to understand the difference between a freelancer and a company, which could change the way the entire process looks.

If you choose to move forward, both parties should set exactly which services will be done and the business should put together a more formal quote. You should also receive a separate contract that outlines the entire business agreement in more detail.

Once the proposal and quote are set aside, the budget is no longer in the spotlight. Your new focus should be exactly how the business defines the scope of the project, the timeline, and their terms for dealing with delays, payment, cancellation, and more. 

This is the time to read every word and make sure you fully understand the terms to which you are agreeing. This legally binding contract could force you to pay for parts of the project regardless of your satisfaction, allow the business to delay deadlines even when you aren’t flexible, and more. Further, less experienced or vigilant businesses might leave terms vague or completely missing, so it’s a good idea to bring up these concerns.

Why Proposal Meetings Are So Important

Having a detailed conversation from the start is so important to avoid miscommunication, misunderstandings, and dissatisfaction during projects. I personally like to have proposal meetings rather than only sending proposals to potential clients for that reason. Both sides should have the opportunity to ask questions, further explain expectations, and iron out any details so that everyone is on the same page before a contract is signed. It’s even better if you know what to look for when hiring a company before you start these discussions.

I’ve often found that potential clients bring preconceived notions from other projects to the table subconsciously. They might have had a previous business offer a certain number of film days, a quicker-than-usual turnaround, or even complimentary services that otherwise might cause extra fees. These expectations are not intentionally hurtful to the partnership, but they can and will affect the experience if not addressed right away. 

Being “Difficult” Now Means Being Satisfied Later

I get it – being confrontational isn’t in everyone’s comfort zone. At the same time, creative businesses should be well prepared to address concerns and reach agreements. If you don’t feel comfortable with something in a contract, or you need further clarification on terms, there’s nothing wrong with asking for their input. 

Make sure that all details are ironed out not just with video production but with all business. As always, you should ask a lawyer about any legal questions you may have before you go ahead with signing any contracts.

For more advice on working with creative businesses, contact Monzo Media Productions.

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