What Is Scope Of Service?
In speaking to groups of entrepreneurs I always like to include scope of service in my presentation. If you are in a service business, and that includes architects, zookeepers and all of those in between, you need to pay attention to what I call scope of service.
It is one of the many places where entrepreneurs get themselves in trouble. They get themselves in trouble because they fail to communicate clearly with their client or customer.
Meeting Of The Minds
One of the first things my contracts professor at The University of Missouri Law School talked about in contracts class is what is called the “meeting of the minds.” This old principle simply says that there can’t be a contract to do something, or buy something unless all the parties to the contract are agreeing to the same thing. Meeting of the minds is a lot like being on the same page. An entrepreneur in the service business who does not get specific about the scope of service will end up with nothing but headaches.
What Are You Going To Do For The Customer?
Scope of service is simply another way of stating to the customer exactly what you are going to do so that they will happily and promptly pay you when the service is complete. As an entrepreneur you want to provide the best service that you can. Let’s hope you do. At the same time, you are most likely dealing with a person who knows little or nothing about how to do your job. If they did, they would probably do it themselves. So while you think you are doing a fine job, the customer may think you are cutting corners or not living up to your obligations.
Let’s say your are in the lawn care business. You probably bill by the month but provide a weekly service. You know what that includes. Are you sure your customer does? Just what does your scope of service include? Mowing? Certainly. How about trimming? Edging? Cleanup? Fertilizing, weedkiller, or maybe even watering? Wouldn’t it be easier to take a moment and have a discussion about it? Suddenly you are six weeks into the job and have not been paid because your customer is not getting what they expected.
Spell Out The Scope of Service Clearly
Spelling out the scope of service may call for having a short contract. It does not have to be anything complex. The simpler the better has always been my rule. This is where I see entrepreneurs make another error. They try to make their own contract. With all of the online services available now, all you need to do is download a template, spend some time working on it and then contact a lawyer to look it over. I spend a lot of my time when I speak to entrepreneurs’ groups and associations explaining that it is less expensive to prevent a legal problem than it is to fix one.
Need some help?
I am a speaker and a coach. I don’t give legal advice. But I do educate entrepreneurs about how to avoid costly legal mistakes and the budget-busting attorney fees that come with them. If you’d be open to a conversation about me speaking to your group or association, contact me. If you are an entrepreneur who needs to get to the top a little faster, give me a shout out. I’ll give you an hour of my time just for your reaading this blog post all the way to the end.
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