February 10th, 2009 by John Reeve
In the nine years we’ve been doing web design & development at Pelago, we’ve encountered just about every type of client you can imagine. But at the end of each project, it’s always the same story. How do we get paid?
To start with, we’ve divided our contracts into two categories; specified development contracts and maintenance contracts. While the former type of contract is designed for larger custom development projects, the maintenance contracts are ideal for sustaining ongoing development relationships with existing clients.
Web design & development time & materials maintenance contract template (click to download PDF)
These maintenance contracts, based on time and materials, help regulate our cash flow and are often useful to kick start a web project with a familiar client. Since so few web projects start out with a clear specification of the work involved, this contract becomes a commitment between us and the client. And since we require that the contract be paid entirely up front, our cash flow is regulated because we are no longer at the mercy of collecting delayed payments on invoices.
This maintenance contract has solved two of our largest problems as a web design & development agency. a) Billing and getting paid after the project is completed. and b) Helping clients understand that priority treatment comes at a higher cost.
Additionally, it is important to remind the client that we are simply hired labor. We can build the site, we can maintain it, but the responsibility ultimately belongs to the client. This maintenance contract helps reinforce the notion that when the server goes down or an API module becomes deprecated, it’s their responsibility — both the rewards and risks of running an online web site — and not yours. Of course, you’d be glad to help out, for a fee :)
We’ve spent years perfecting this contract and it’s worked quite well for us. So we want you to have it, for free. Go ahead, download the PDF and use it as a template for your web design & development business. It’s a solid legal contract that you can use as is or change up for your specific needs. Either way, you’re getting a great start on entering your next client project.
And if you happen to already be an Intervals user, you will find that these contracts align nicely with our online project workflow. Here is how we usually handle our maintenance contracts using Intervals:
- Create a project named the same as the maintenance contract, for example, ACME Maintenance 001.
- Enter the rates and terms into the project profile.
- Set the project to alert you at a certain percentage, so you can give the client enough lead time to renew the contract when it comes close to expiring.
- Use the Invoices tab to issue an official invoice to the client
- When payment is received, add that in the project profile, marking the invoice as paid.
- Work away on the project, using Intervals to track your time and budget along the way.
- Enjoy working with a happier client.