This is the 46th of a series of newsletters published on Business Management and Management Skills. Not all topics will apply to your business, but each section will be beneficial to establish company goals and objectives. By reading and studying these newsletter articles, you’re taking the first step in achieving your goals.

* * * * *

Don’t accept a job without a contract. To do so would be to sow the seeds of controversy, misunderstanding, argument, delayed payments, and erosion of the customer/contractor relationship. Usually the price and other conditions of a job are agreed on by the act of your presenting a contract, and an authorized representative of the customer signing it. Never begin work before a contract has been signed and is in your possession. Review in detail yourself all contracts presented to your company. Large developers and general contractors have their own contracts that are biased in their favor, but that doesn’t mean that you have to sign it as is.

If you’re required to sign their contract form, consider striking out clauses that you object to. But, before you begin to do so, ask your lawyer to explain things such as contract terms, acceptance and rejections. Then, prepare to negotiate, and defend your strikeouts. You may have to inflate your price to accommodate special requirements that they insist on. You can prepare a proposal with your own conditions, and make it an addendum to the customer’s contract. Prepare a checklist indicating whether you or the customer is responsible for each service.

Anything in the gray area of doubt, such as who pays for temporary power, who patches holes, whether special bonding or insurance is required, etc., should be discussed and agreed on. Be sure that you investigate and know the requirements for licensing, insurance and permitting, as well as the local building codes. Not knowing can be expensive, and not complying can be more expensive.

Contracts, both verbal and written are legal in nature. Know what you’re signing!

NOTE: For additional information, please refer to the section on Legal (#21) in this series of articles on Financial Management, and on Proposals (to be published later) on Job Management.

Mike Holt’s Comment: I would like to extend a special thank you to L.W. Brittian, a Mechanical & Electrical Instructor in Lott, Texas, for reviewing and editing the various articles in these newsletters. His comments and suggestions have been invaluable in the preparation of my Business Management and Management Skills’ Workbook. This newsletter article was extracted from that workbook. Watch for our next newsletter, and as always, we invite your comments and feedback. Send us your real-life experiences. We value your opinions and participation. Please respond to And be sure to visit Mike Holt’s Website at

Copyright © 2002 Mike Holt Enterprises,Inc.
1-888-NEC-CODE (1-888-632-2633)