Like all good business relationships, the process of working with a new client begins with a contract. We asked three designers—Eche Martinez, Marika Meyer and Liles Dunnigan: What line in your contract has come in most handy?
“We have a line in our contract that pertains to publicity and photography. Being in Washington, D.C., we have a number of clients who are very private. So, we put this clause in our contract: ‘We shall have the right to document the project in progress and when completed, by photography or other means, which we may use for portfolio, brochure, public display and similar publicity purposes.’ I find that including this in our contract allows us to have a conversation with clients at the start of a project around the comfort level of exposure. Some clients say they do not want any photography, but as we are made aware of that at the onset of a project, we can manage expectations accordingly.” —Marika Meyer, Marika Meyer Interiors, Washington, D.C.
Start with Trust
“I never send contracts ready for signing right after meeting a potential client. I prefer to send blank contracts to make sure we have some time to answer any questions clients have and not rush them into signing. Once we’re all on the same page (pun intended) we send the full contract with the client’s name and project address so it can be fully executed. I always say that a great client-designer relationship starts with trust, and giving your clients the time to carefully understand the LOA is almost like signing the perfect prenup.” —Eche Martinez, ECHE, San Francisco
“The most useful line in our contract has turned out to be: ‘Client/Designer communication is to be discussed and set in advance of project start date.’ Setting boundaries in terms of when clients can contact you has been crucial for our business! It is important to let them know when it is appropriate to reach out via phone versus email. We prefer clients to email us outside of normal business hours. It helps cut down on getting texts at 11 p.m.!” —Zandy Gammons and Liles Dunnigan, The Warehouse, Raleigh, NC