Many aspiring professional organizers are first-time business owners; curious with lots of questions. Recently a new professional organizer contacted me and asked me specifically about letters of agreement and contracts for professional organizers.
He recently launched his website and attended his first professional development conference. He’d taken a few online business courses, but he still had questions – specifically about what to include in his client contract. He explained that he cobbled together a makeshift agreement from various contracts he found online, but he wanted to ensure that his letter of the agreement covered all essential clauses.
This new professional organizer also mentioned that in the Facebook groups and productivity forums he participates in, there are always a lot of questions about letters of agreement and contracts for professional organizers. He told me he read the Metropolitan Organizing FAQ page and found it “extremely helpful” because I included topics he hadn’t even thought of. He concluded by stating that he recently purchased “very basic business insurance” but wondered what else he might need to know about running his business and creating a contract for his home organizing business. His final question was about hiring a small business attorney.
So many questions, right? Like many other aspiring and new professional organizers, he jumped into the client-facing part of his business without too much planning on the back end of his business. Readers, this is why I created the “dynamic duo” New Organizers’ Essentials Kit and the Terms of the Trade Glossary for Professional Organizers. Because, as a new organizer, you don’t know what you don’t know, which can hurt you and your business. But that’s not what we’re here to talk about in this article.
Let me begin by answering his most important question first. Yes, I recommend that new professional organizers consult with a local business attorney because contracts for professional organizers need to meet specific criteria to be considered legal and binding.
Contracts for Professional Organizers: 10 Items to Include
- Parties involved: name and contact information of everyone involved in the agreement.
- Scope of work: define the services and scope of work, including timelines, deadlines, and deliverables.
- Terms of payment: state the amount, payment schedule, and penalties for late payments or failure of payment.
- Termination clause: outline the conditions under which either party can terminate the agreement.
- Responsibilities and obligations: list each party’s responsibilities and obligations to help avoid any disputes or miscommunications.
- Confidentiality clause: discuss how the parties will protect any sensitive information they share.
- Intellectual property: define the ownership of any intellectual property created or used.
- Dispute resolution: include a clause outlining the steps that either party will take in case of conflict or disagreement (e.g., if your client isn’t happy, you will [refund/discount/reorganize] to remedy the situation).
- Governing Law: state the governing law that applies to the agreement to avoid any legal ambiguities (e.g., if a North Carolina organizer is hired by a client living outside of NC)
- Signatures: have both parties sign and date the agreement to demonstrate their understanding and agreement to the above terms.
DIY contracts created by professional organizers often lack important details so it’s important to have a local business attorney review what you’ve created and ensure you’ve included everything you need.