On most of your jobs, you provide a quote, do the work to the best of your ability, the customer is happy and they pay you.
But, as we all know, not every job goes that smoothly.
At Which? Trusted Traders, we often hear complaints from customers and traders because a problem has cropped up and there hasn’t been a quote or contract in writing.
This leaves both parties in a difficult situation, because it’s one person’s word against another.
It can also result in the customer withholding payment because they believe they’ve been overcharged, or the job hasn’t been completed as they expected.
To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, it’s essential to get a signed contract in place before you start work.
Even with a contract, sometimes problems can crop up during the job which can lead to disputes with the customer.
We asked Which? Trusted Traders complaint handlers for their advice to make sure your contract is as watertight as possible. Here are their top three tips:
Sometimes, you’ll have a contract in place and start work, but then a new issue crops up which needs additional work and expense.
In this situation, our complaint handlers say it’s essential to re-quote and get the go-ahead in writing, even if that means a delay in getting the work done.
The danger of not re-quoting is that the customer often doesn’t realise that the job is going to be more expensive, and gets a shock when presented with the final bill.
If you use terms and conditions, make sure the customer reads them before you start work.
Before they sign the contract, ask your customer to confirm in an email:
This way, the customer shouldn’t get any surprises during or after the job that could lead to a dispute.
Take a few moments before and after the job to get some snaps of the work on your mobile phone.
Email the pictures to the customer at the start and end of the job and get confirmation in writing that they’re happy with the results.
This ensures that you can prove the contract was fulfilled to the customer’s satisfaction.
As a bonus, you might also be able to use the pictures to show off your skills on your website and social-media channels.
As our complaints handlers know, the best protection for you and your customers is to have everything clearly laid out in writing, and stick to it.
So always make sure that you:
At Which? Trusted Traders we moderate 100% of the reviews you receive on your profile. So if there is a negative review, we’ll make sure that it's fair by checking the details with both you and the customer.
A single complaint shouldn’t be the end of your business, particularly if you can show that you responded to it fairly and promptly. If the majority of customers are happy and you encourage them to leave positive testimonials, new prospects will look beyond a single bad review.