Contracts for Balloon Professionals
The Importance of Contracts in Balloon Decor Business
Whether you’re just starting your balloon decor business or looking to strengthen your existing operation, there’s one element you can’t afford to overlook: a solid, well-crafted contract. This essential document serves as a professional agreement between you and your client, ensuring that both parties are on the same page regarding the services provided and terms of payment.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll discuss why contracts are your best allies in the balloon decor industry, how they can safeguard your financial interests, and much more. So if you’ve ever wondered about the nitty-gritty of balloon decor contracts, you’re in the right place. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about contracts in the balloon decor industry.
Please note: Some of the following comments include amounts of money in the imaginary unit called “C-shells.” These units are used to avoid any hint of illegal price fixing in the balloon industry.
The Importance of a Written Contract
You’ve booked the job. Now you need it in writing. Many experienced business people stress the importance of having a written contract. It facilitates effective communication with your client, ensuring everyone has the same understanding.
Five Key Elements to Include in a Business Contract
When drafting a business contract, there are five essential elements you should include:
- Description of Work and Ownership: Clearly outline the scope of work and specify ownership of all materials involved. Clarify what items the client can take home and what items are rented to them.
- Payment Terms and Responsible Parties: Define the payment terms, conditions, and identify the parties responsible for payments.
- Access to Work Space and Timing: Address the provisions for accessing the work space and specify the timing of the work.
- Strike or Tear Down Arrangements: Outline the arrangements for strikes or tear-down procedures, if applicable.
- Bad Weather, Cancellation, and Design Change Fees: Specify the procedures and fees associated with bad weather, cancellations, and design changes.
Additional Resource on Business Contracts
The QBN business volume provides further knowledge on income statements, balance sheets, pricing strategies, and profitability analysis to help ensure you are making money. Additionally, Jim Kleefeld’s contract book is available for purchase at $13.50, including postage. You can order it from the following address:
33510 Jennie Road
Avon, Ohio 44011
Benefits of Using a Contract
The primary reasons for utilizing a contract are to avoid misunderstandings over the telephone, protect yourself from customers making uncommunicated changes, and prevent being sent on unnecessary errands or wild goose chases, as experienced prior to writing this note.
Confirmation Letter and Deposit
To ensure a smooth and efficient confirmation process, we have implemented a straightforward procedure that includes a confirmation letter and a deposit requirement:
- We send out a confirmation letter: A simple letter is sent to confirm the party details, including venue, date, time, etc. It also specifies the number of kids and the activities planned. Additionally, our cancellation policy is stated, as previously posted.
- Customer returns the letter with a deposit: The customer is required to return the letter along with a 50% deposit and their signature. This process establishes a contractual obligation without the need for a formal performance agreement.
Benefits of Requiring a Deposit
Requiring a deposit offers several advantages for both parties involved in the business transaction:
- Commitment from customers: As they ask for your commitment, it is reasonable to expect a commitment from them in the form of a deposit.
- Ensuring quality service: Most people don’t mind paying a deposit when they know they will receive good service.
Our cancellation policy aims to provide a fair and reasonable approach for both parties involved. Here are the key components of our policy:
- Raincheck for cancellations: If the event or performance is canceled with at least 24 hours’ notice, the customer may be issued a raincheck. The raincheck can be used for the same performance or an equivalent event within one year, subject to performer availability.
- Deposit forfeiture for short notice cancellations: If less than 24 hours’ notice is given, any deposit is forfeited.
- Performer availability and rescheduling: The raincheck cannot be used unless the performer is available. If the performer is not scheduled within the year, the deposit is forfeited.
- Prompt notification and extended validity: If the event is canceled and the performer is notified within a specified timeframe (e.g., Hours), the deposit will be valid for one year from the original scheduled date for any similar event at the customer’s request.
Importance of Non-Conditional Scheduling
Non-conditional scheduling is a crucial aspect of our approach to ensure efficient and reliable service. Here’s why we prioritize it:
- No acceptance of conditional scheduling: Due to factors beyond our control, such as weather, we do not accept conditional scheduling.
- Using contracts for personal events: Even for personal events, it is advisable to use a contract. The contract should state that the event sponsor is responsible for cancellations and should make provisions for bad weather, etc. By committing to an event, we agree to prioritize it over others.
Considerations for Cancellation Charges
When it comes to cancellation charges, it’s important to consider legal requirements and maintain positive customer relationships. Here are key points to keep in mind:
- State laws and contracts: Some state laws allow charging for last-minute cancellations, but it is typically necessary to have a contract in advance with this policy. In some cases, a simple sign at your place of business stating the policy may suffice.
- Customer relationship: Take the particular customer into account when enforcing cancellation charges. If they are a valued customer who hires you regularly and pays well, it may be wise to exercise flexibility. Making a big fuss could jeopardize future opportunities.
Deposit and Payment Terms
When it comes to deposit and payment terms, we have established clear guidelines to ensure a secure and successful business arrangement. Here are the key elements:
- Deposit Requirement and Non-Refundable Clause: On all company contracts, we require a 50% deposit upfront. This deposit secures the booking and serves as a commitment from the client. It is important to note that the deposit is non-refundable. In the event of cancellation 24 hours before the scheduled event, we require half of the remaining balance as compensation.
- Cancellations Due to Rain and Rescheduling: If the client cancels due to rain, we retain the deposit and consider it as compensation for the inconvenience. If the client decides to reschedule the event, our terms and agreement remain the same, and we maintain the original deposit. This provides stability for both parties, and we appreciate the flexibility of having a day off.
Maintaining Good Relationships and Bridge-Building
It is crucial to maintain good graces and positive relationships with clients. Burning bridges should be avoided at all costs. For instance, in some cases, clients may have paid deposits to other attractions with a clause allowing the deposit to be carried over to the following year in case of cancellation. This arrangement provides flexibility and ensures the deposit covers the subsequent year’s event.
Retainer and Booking Fee
In the decoration aspect of our services, we require a deposit referred to as a retainer. This retainer secures the spot for the client and protects us in cases of cancellations or unexpected changes.
Contractual Obligations and Changes
All contracts include a clause specifying that changes to the contract are not permitted, except for adjustments to the number of attendees. This policy ensures that clients take their commitments seriously and discourages frequent cancellations or modifications. It also allows us to uphold our services consistently and maintain the integrity of our work.
Choosing Words and Professionalism
Maintaining a professional approach to conversations is essential, and careful word choice plays a vital role in effective communication. Sometimes, it can be challenging to strike the right balance in decision-making.
Using “Retainer” instead of “Deposit”
In response to legal advice and the suggestion from Pam Steiner, we have transitioned from using the term “deposit” to “retainer” in our contracts and proposals. This change was motivated by the legal implications attached to the word “deposit,” as “retainer” more accurately denotes a fee for services rendered. By utilizing “retainer,” we clarify that clients cannot request refunds simply by changing their minds.
Furthermore, our proposals provide a clear explanation of our refund policy, emphasizing that the initial payment constitutes a non-refundable retainer fee. The remaining balance, along with subsequent payments, follows a refundable structure based on a percentage scale that varies depending on the date of written cancellation.
Key Clauses in Contracts
It is crucial to include certain clauses in contracts to address specific considerations. These may include weather-related contingencies and cancellation or postponement agreements. A suggested clause could involve a non-refundable retainer or deposit, with specific conditions for cancellation timing and the client’s responsibility.
Incorporating a statement such as “Not responsible for inclement weather, acts of God, vandalism, etc.” helps protect against unforeseen circumstances. Additionally, if a rain date is established, it should be clearly outlined in the contract, along with any additional fees for rescheduling.
Balloon Decor Limitations and Adjustments
In the balloon decorating field, it is important to inform clients about the temporary nature of balloons and their susceptibility to factors like wind, rain, handling, and sunlight. Although the highest quality balloons are used, unpredictable circumstances may arise.
To ensure flexibility in unforeseen circumstances, the contract should grant the decorator the right to make changes in the best interest of the client. If the promised facility setup is not available or timely, adjustments may be made, with any additional time required billed accordingly.
Outdoor Decor Considerations
Outdoor balloon decor presents unique challenges, and it is important to set appropriate expectations with clients. Communicating that perfect results cannot be guaranteed outdoors helps manage client expectations.
- Offering guidance in balloon color and type selection and recommending decor styles that withstand various weather conditions can help mitigate risks.
- It is crucial to include a weather clause and a clause emphasizing no guarantees for outdoor decor in all contracts to ensure clarity and transparency.
Contingency Planning and Legal Review
Implementing a contingency plan, discussed with the client during the booking process, is advisable.
- This plan should include a designated time, contact information, and a responsible person who can approve prearranged designs.
- Having contracts reviewed by an attorney before use is a wise investment to ensure legal compliance and protect your interests.
Comprehensive Proposal Details
In the proposal, clearly outline ownership of materials (client’s versus decorator’s), include pricing for bad weather scenarios, specify cancellation terms, and outline payment terms.
- Copyright your pictures and include the copyright notice at the bottom of your proposal for added protection. Include space for the client’s signature and date to acknowledge their agreement with the proposal.
- Provide a breakdown of each decor item with corresponding prices. Offering lower-priced alternatives as secondary or tertiary options can give clients more flexibility and choices.
Using Confirmation Letters Instead of Contracts
Some individuals opt for using confirmation letters instead of formal contracts to solidify agreements. This streamlined approach involves the following steps:
- Simple Confirmation Letter: Instead of a complex contract, a straightforward confirmation letter is sent to the client. The letter includes essential party information such as the venue, date, time, etc. Additionally, it outlines the number of kids attending and specifies the planned activities. The confirmation letter also states the cancellation policy, providing clarity to both parties.
- Deposit Submission and Signature: To establish a contractual obligation, the customer is required to return the confirmation letter along with a 50% deposit and their signature. This process ensures commitment from the client and simplifies the administrative aspects of the agreement.
Challenges without Deposit Requirement
However, there can be challenges when a deposit is not requested:
- Rainy Weather and Cancellation: In the case mentioned, if it rains, the client intends to cancel the event without payment. This situation mirrors a similar occurrence from the previous year, which necessitated the presence of two balloonists.
- Lack of Deposit Requirement: In this particular scenario, a deposit was not requested upfront, which poses a risk in securing compensation in the event of cancellation.
To mitigate such situations, it is advisable to incorporate a deposit requirement into the confirmation letter process. This helps protect your interests and ensures a commitment from the client, safeguarding against potential cancellations without compensation.
Sample Contracts for Balloon Artists
Note: Balloon HQ and the Guide to Balloons and Ballooning have included the following section to provide examples. We can not verify the legalities of any of the documents shown. These are ideas that have been used by various balloon artists. You will most likely want to customize them for your own purposes, with the aid of an attorney.
- Rain or Cancellations: If the event or performance is canceled, the customer may be issued a “Raincheck” if at least 24 hours notice is given. If less than 24 hours notice is given any deposit is forfeit. The Raincheck is good for the same performance or equivalent event within one year, that can be worked into the performers schedule. The Raincheck cannot be used unless the performer is available.
- All outdoor performances must be conducted in a safe manner and there must be an indoor rain contingency plan. In the event of cancellation without such a contingency, the Purchaser must pay the contract in full.
- Cancellations: If the event is canceled and the performer notified within XXXX Hours, the deposit will be good for one year from the date of the original scheduled date. This deposit will then be good for any similar event within the year that the performer is available to attend at the request of the customer. If the performer is not scheduled within that year, the deposit is forfeit.
_______________ Company Agent
Type of Entertainment: ________________
Date of Performance: __________________
Length of Performance : _______________
Fee due to performer: $_____________ (X hours at $X per hour)
This contract is non-cancelable by any of the parties hereto.
performer agrees to entertain at function as detailed above, and
agrees to exercise reasonable, professional, judgment in the
conduct and content of his/her performance. Performer assumes all
responsibility for their actions.
_________ company agent assumes no responsibility for the
actions of the client or their gusts. Performer agrees to this engagement
as an independent entity and may not hold _________ company
agent liable for any acts, losses or damages. Additionally,
_________ company agent cannot be held liable for injury
sustained in relation to this engagement.
It is understood by all parties involved that _________ company
agent is the sole booking organization for the performer for all
of its engagements with this specific purchaser and shall be
entitled to a commission for any future engagements resultant from
Performer must distribute promotional material provided by
_________ company agent. Failure to do so will result in the
forfeiture of any future engagements.
Should _________ company agent learn that the entertainer has
distributed his/her own materials, said performer will not be
entitled to the total fee due.
Failure to comply with the terms, conditions, and specifics of this
agreement shall result in the forfeiture of all moneys owed to the
performer and may entitle _________ company agent to damages.
Signature below constitutes agreement to the above.
Business Contract underlined
_______________ Your company agent
Date of Performance: ____________________
Length of performance: __________________
Type of function: ________________________
Service requested by (or contact point): ___________________
Entertainer: ___________________ by name…Go-Go the
Type of entertainment: ______________ be specific, balloons,
magic, face painting, etc.
This contract is non-cancelable by any of the parties hereto.
performer agrees to provide entertainer at functions, as detailed
Entertainer is retained as an independent contractor, therefore,
_________ company agent cannot be held liable for damages
sustained in relation to this engagement.
*A non-refundable deposit is required prior to performance date.
This deposit shall be forfeited should the event be canceled or
postponed due to weather conditions or other circumstances. The
fee indicated herein shall not be decreased, under any
circumstances whatsoever, including decreasing the length of the
Total payment for services must be received on date of performance.
Agent Name…contact point
Authorized Agent of Function
(If due to time constraints, a deposit is not feasible and the
entertainment be canceled, a fee of one third of the total fee
listed above is due.)
The above contract can be faxed to and from Authorized agent of
Liability Terms You the customer, by signing the release portion
of this document, give your permission for ****Your Company***
/***Your Name**** to work and entertain under the following
conditions. You agree to accept all responsibility for all personal
and real property, and persons at the event’s location. Upon
signing this release you are releasing ****Your Name**** and
****Your Company**** from all liability and responsibility for
property, persons, and pets at the event’s location, before,
during and after the event. As a result of signing this release,
****Your Company**** and ****Your Name**** are free of any
liability, and you the signing person will accept full liability
and responsibility for persons and property at the location.
Release Agreement for:
____________________________ Event, at
____________________________ Location, for
I agree to the terms listed and accept the terms of liability. I
accept full responsibility and liability for all property and
persons at this location and release ****Your Name**** and
****Your Company**** from all responsibility and liability.
I understand that there are dangers to children and pets if
balloons or parts of balloons are swallowed.
Date ______________________ Phone_______________________
City, State ______________________________ Zip__________
INDEPENDENT ENTERTAINER/CONTRACTOR AGREEMENT
This agreement is hereby entered into by and between ( name,
address, and phone number of individual negotiating contract)
representing (name, address, and phone number of business for
whom service is to be provided) hereinafter referred to as
_____________________, and ****Your Full Name*****, an
independent entertainer and contractor, representing ****Your
Company****, Your Company Address, Phone number (XXX)
XXX-XXXX, hereinafter referred to as ****Your Name****.
Wherein ________________ desires (A broad statement of the
products and services requested, the time, date, and location where
products and services are to be delivered) and has requested that
****YOUR NAME**** provide such entertainment and/or
decorating service, ****YOUR NAME**** hereby agrees to provide the
following: (A complete item by item description of products and services
________________ agrees to provide ( detailed list of all items to be
provided by client such as parking, meals, ladders, lift, extension
cords, and etc.) The fee agreed upon between ________________
and ****YOUR NAME**** in exchange for said entertainment and/or
decorating service is ($______), to be paid to ****YOUR NAME**** as
follows: a deposit of ($______), which is non-refundable unless the
contract is canceled more than 30 days prior to the date the
entertainment and/or decorating service covered by this agreement
is to be provided, is to be paid to ****YOUR NAME**** upon
acceptance of this agreement. The balance of ($ ___________) is to
be paid to ****YOUR NAME**** no later than _____________________
unless a later date is agreed upon in writing prior to the date of the
entertainment and/or decorating service. If said balance is not paid
to ****YOUR NAME**** as herein required, _______________
agrees to pay to ****YOUR NAME**** an administrative charge of ten
percent (10%) of said balance and to pay all reasonable costs including court
costs and attorney’s fees incurred by ****YOUR NAME**** in the
collection thereof. It is agreed and understood between the parties
that any and all persons providing entertainment and/or decorating
service as provided herein are independent contractors, represented
by ****YOUR NAME****, and that no employer/employee
relationship exists between such persons and _________________*.
****YOUR NAME****, for and in consideration of the mutual
covenants herein contained, hereby agrees to indemnify, save, and hold
harmless __________________ and the legal and beneficial
owner(s) of the real property and improvements commonly referred to as
___________________________, and their respective partners,
affiliates, agents, related entities, attorneys, officers, directors,
shareholders, employees, successors, and assigns, from and against
any and all claims, demands, causes of actions, suits, proceedings,
costs, expenses, and damages arising out of or relating to this
agreement or the services to be performed pursuant hereto.
****Your Name****, Inc.
This agreement is entered into this today’s date by and between
Artist Name for Artists Stage Name, herein referred to as the
Artist and Signer For Buyer for Buyers Name, herein
referred to as the Purchaser, with the assistance of ****Agency
Name if one is used**** for ****Your Name****, Inc., herein referred to as Agency, for the following services.
1. Purchaser hereby engages the Artist, subject to the terms and conditions
Event: Event Name
Date: Event Date(s)
Location: Event Location
Time: (Detailed in Attachment No. 1)
Cost: Total Cost
2. It is agreed that as full compensation for services provided by the
Artist as above set forth, the Purchaser will pay to the Artist the sum
of $ Total Cost. A $ deposit amount%93 non-refundable deposit will
be issued with the signing of this contract. The balance of payment is
to be made in full, on the day of the event, to the leader of the artist
group in cash, company check, certified check, or money order.
Any deviation from the specific terms of this paragraph by the Purchaser
shall constitute a breach of this entire Agreement.
3. All outdoor performances must be conducted in a safe manner
and there must be an indoor rain contingency plan. In the event of
cancellation without such contingency, the Purchaser must pay the
contract in full.
4. Purchaser is responsible for providing all permits, licenses and
legal papers needed for any foreign events outside the United States,
in a timely manner. Such documents must be provided to the Artist
by the Purchaser no later than two weeks prior to the performance.
Purchaser is liable for any costs and expenses related to said
permits, licenses and papers. Any delay or non-compliance to this paragraph
will be considered a breach on the part of the Purchaser.
5. The recording, reproduction, filming or transmission of the Artist’s
performances are prohibited without the written consent of the
Artist. The Purchaser shall be responsible for the strict enforcement
of this paragraph.
6. The Purchaser will make available two complimentary tickets per
Artist member for any public events.
7. The Artist agrees that the Purchaser shall have the right to use
the Artist’s name, approved pictures, and other likenesses in
connection with the advertising and publicizing of the engagement
hereunder, but such use shall not be as an endorsement of any
product or service, or for the sale of any merchandise, except with
the Artist’s written permission. It is also agreed that all advertising,
promotion, etc. referring to the Artist will refer to him as
%91Artists Stage Name%93.
8. The Agency is acknowledged to have performed its obligations
upon the commencement of this engagement. The Agency shall not
be liable for any breach, default, or failure to perform by either the
Purchaser or the Artist. No changes in this Agreement affecting the
Agency’s commission of its payment shall be made without the
written consent of the Agency.
9. Purchaser agrees to be responsible for the actions of the
Purchaser’s employees and patrons, and to reimburse the Artist for
any damages suffered due to the actions of the Purchaser’s
employees or patrons, including harm to Artist’s equipment while
such equipment is at the place of the performance.
10. The Purchaser agrees that the services as outlined in Attachment
#1 shall not be canceled or modified, except by mutual, written
consent of both the Purchaser and the Artist. The attempt by one
party to cancel this Agreement without the permission of the other
party shall be a breach of this Agreement.
11. Should either party to this Agreement fail to carry out their
obligations under the terms of this Agreement, the other party may
bring legal proceedings to enforce the terms of this Agreement.
Interest shall be payable to the non- breaching party on the amount
of damages suffered, calculation at the rate of 12% per year (or the
maximum legal rate, if such rate is lower that 12% per year). Such
interest shall begin to accrue as of the date of discovery or notice of
the breach of this Agreement by the non-breaching party. Should
either party find it necessary to commence legal action in the case of
breach, or to otherwise enforce the terms of this Agreement, the
prevailing party shall be entitled to an award of court costs, expenses
and attorney’s fees incurred in such legal action, in addition to any
damages or other legal relief awarded. The parties agree that venue
for any legal action by either party shall be in ****Your****
County, ****STATE****. Both the Seller and the Purchaser agree to be
subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of ****Your**** County,
****STATE**** for purposes of any legal action.
12. This Agreement cannot be assigned or transferred without the
written consent of both parties. The waiver of any breach of this
Agreement shall not be deemed to be a continuing waiver. This
Agreement contains the complete agreement between the parties.
No modification, or change to this Agreement shall be valid unless
made in writing, dated,, and signed by both parties, The validity,
interpretation and enforcement of this Agreement shall be governed
by the laws of the State Of ****????****, regardless of the place
of performance by the Artist. The terms Artist and Purchaser as used
in this Agreement shall include and apply to the singular and the
plural, and to all genders.
13. The person signing this Agreement on behalf of Buyers Name
hereby warrants and guarantees that he or she has the authority to
sign this Agreement and bind Buyers Name to the terms of this
Agreement, whether Buyers Name is an individual, partnership,
corporation or some other entity. All copies of this Agreement must
be signed and returned to ****YOUR COMPANY**** with the above
mentioned deposit, within 14 calendar days of today’s date. One
counter signed copy will be returned to Buyers Name at the
This contract must be returned by the Purchaser to the Agent.
One countersigned copy will be returned to the Purchaser’s address
Accepted and Agreed to by:
Artist Name Signer For Buyer
Artists Stage Name Buyers Name
Artists Address Buyers Address
Attachment No. 1
Services are to include;
Hours of Roving Per Day Hours of roving entertainment per day by
Artists Stage Name.
No. of Stage Shows Stage performance(s) by Artists Stage Name.
All supplies used by Artists Stage Name.
Times of performances will be as follows:
****Your Company**** contractually agrees to have _____
Entertainers at ____________________________ on ________________
from _________ to __________ to entertain children and/or adults
In exchange, __________________________________ agrees to pay
****Your Company**** $_______ per hour (_____ total hours, ______
total amount) for the above time, and $______ per each 15 minute
section exceeding the above time, if desired upon the end of the
period. In the event of a cancellation, ________________________
agrees to notify ****Your Company**** at least 72 hours in advance
or forfeit the deposit previously paid or agreed upon ($______).
**Package includes: Strolling creation of balloon animals and crazy
balloon hats, all balloon supplies, travel expenses, and fun costumes
** Make check payable to: ****Your Company****
Please sign above and mail to:
Address of your company
Importance of Detailed Agreements and Setting Expectations
Creating detailed agreements and setting clear expectations with clients can greatly improve relationships and minimize misunderstandings. Here are key considerations:
1. Communicating Effectively
- Detailed Descriptions: Providing thorough descriptions, including visual references such as pictures, helps clients better understand the services being offered. This helps counteract potential misconceptions and allows them to focus on the actual offerings rather than their own imaginations.
- Addressing Misconceptions: It is essential to acknowledge that even with clear explanations, clients may still fixate on their own perceptions. Therefore, written documentation becomes crucial in aligning expectations.
2. Education Clause in Decorating Contracts
- Balloon Safety: Including an “Education” clause in decorating contracts is beneficial. This clause can inform clients that latex and microfoil balloons pose no threat to humans, wildlife, or the environment when handled responsibly. It is important to mention that broken or uninflated balloons can be harmful to young children and should be disposed of promptly. The clause may also state that latex balloons are 100% biodegradable but should not be released and should be disposed of in proper trash receptacles. Additionally, it is important to cover the risks of inhaling helium.
3. Deposit Requirement
- 50% Deposit: Requiring a 50% deposit of the total price is a common practice to secure the booking. Even if all the details are not finalized, the deposit ensures commitment from the client. For events more than six months away, a smaller deposit of 50 C-shells can be requested during the initial stages of the planning process.
4. Exclusive Balloon Arrangement
- No Other Balloons on Site: Including a clause in the agreement that prohibits other balloons on the event or wedding site, besides those provided by the decorator, can help maintain the exclusivity of the arrangement.
- Right to Refuse Job: Reserving the right to refuse the job if this clause is violated ensures that the terms of the agreement are upheld. In such cases, the retainer fee would not be refunded.
- Communication and Understanding: Explaining the reasons behind this clause to clients helps foster understanding and reduces the likelihood of pushback.
Additional Insider Input on Contracts
When it comes to contracts and deposit amounts, here are some additional insider insights to consider:
- Signed Contract and Cancellation Clause: It is essential to have a signed contract that includes a cancellation clause. This clause protects both parties in the event of cancellation.
- Deposit Amounts and Non-Refundable Policy: Increasing the deposit amount can make clients take their commitment more seriously while not deterring them. For example, raising the deposit from 50 C-shells to 100 C-shells has proven effective. The deposit or retainer should be non-refundable to account for potential cancellations. This compensates for the marketing and sales efforts already invested in securing the contract.
- Meaningful Deposit Amounts: Small deposit amounts may not hold much significance for clients. A non-refundable small deposit can still be used, but it may not have the same impact as a more substantial amount.
- Deposit Refund Policy: Establish a clear deposit refund policy based on the timing of cancellations. For instance, returning the deposit if the contract is canceled six months before the wedding, refunding 50% if canceled between 3 and 6 months prior, and no deposit refund if canceled less than 3 months before the wedding. Consult with professionals, such as attorneys, to ensure compliance with state-specific laws regarding service contract cancellations and deposit refunds.
- Demonstrating Monetary Losses: Design the contract to show that as the event date approaches, it becomes increasingly challenging to rebook the date due to prior commitments. This demonstrates the potential monetary losses suffered from cancellations.
- Sharing Contract Template: If interested, a basic contract template in Word 6.0 format can be shared via email. Contact Eric Swingler at Eswingler@aol.com for a copy.
Requirements and Contract Obligations
To ensure clarity and avoid misunderstandings, it is important to establish requirements and clearly define contract obligations. Here are some considerations:
Big Non-Refundable Deposit and Defining “Default”: A substantial non-refundable deposit should be required from clients to secure their commitment. In the contract, specify what constitutes a “default” situation, such as reducing hours, entertainers, or canceling the gig.
All parties involved should sign the contract, and copies should be provided to each signatory to prevent any future misunderstandings or disputes.
Verifying Decision Makers and Payment Terms: Prior to moving forward, inquire whether the client is the sole decision maker or if approvals from others are necessary. If there are additional decision makers, obtain their names, contact numbers, and addresses, and request their signatures as well. Clarify payment terms upfront. If the client suggests a different payment schedule, such as 30 days, inquire if they are willing to honor your preferred terms. Depending on your flexibility, you can either adjust or consider declining the gig.
Emphasizing Time and Obligations: In the contract, make it explicit that clients are paying for your time and skills. Explain that by booking those hours for them, they are obligated to compensate you. Drawing a parallel to paying for a slot in a daycare center, regardless of attendance, can help clients understand the concept.
Clearly outline the cancellation and change policy in the contract. Specify that changes made within 72 hours of the event may incur an additional charge per change, ranging from 25 C-shells to 50 C-shells. Cancellations of individual items less than 30 days before the event date may be subject to a 50% cancellation fee per item.
Guarantee the listed prices for 30 days from the consultation date. If the initial payment is made after the 30-day period, any new price increases will be added to the total.
Handling Last-Minute Changes
It can be challenging to decline last-minute changes, especially when aiming to maintain a good relationship with the customer. Assess the extent of work and value the customer’s business to determine if accommodating the changes is feasible.
Consider including a penalty clause in the contract for changes or additions requested after a specific date. Clearly communicate this policy verbally and in bold lettering within the contract. Alternatively, specify in the contract that changes cannot be made after a certain date. The penalty percentage should be set to discourage last-minute alterations.
If changes are accepted, have the customer sign an additional form authorizing the extras or changes to ensure transparency and accountability.
Here’s how it should read:
Project: ___________________ (name of project)
Customer: ___________________ (customer name)
Contractor: ___________________ (your company name)
Contract Date: ________________
Contract #: ________
_____________ (customer) authorizes __________________(your company) and
________________ (your company) agrees to perform the following extra
work/changes in addition to the work set out in the above-noted
….Detailed description of Extras/Changes
The agreed total price for the above work is $________ plus applicable
to be payable pursuant to the terms of the original contract dated
Dated on ____
Both parties to sign
Besides being a business owner, I am also a paralegal by trade. If you feel your contract isn’t strong enough or is not covering everything you need it to cover, I do recommend having your attorney or legal representative review it so as to ensure that all important issues are covered. The written contract is about the only thing that will truly hold up in court if something goes wrong..so your contract should be worded properly and should cover all angles …verbal agreements between 2 parties just don’t cut it sometimes….
Dealing with Outdoor Decorations and Client Compensation
When it comes to outdoor decorations, it’s important to plan for potential challenges and communicate with your clients. Discuss worst-case scenarios, such as adverse weather conditions, and establish clear policies. While offering a full cash refund may not always be feasible, consider alternatives like providing credits for future orders. By maintaining open communication and addressing concerns, you can navigate outdoor decoration issues while ensuring customer satisfaction.
Confirming Key Details: The Content of My Contract
- Payment arrangements, including deposits and cancellation provisions
- Description of the event, contact person, and venue information
- Addressing balloon safety concerns for young children
- Signing and Returning: Execution of the Contract
Handling Raindates: An Evolving Approach
- Charging a fee for booking raindates at the time of initial booking
- Considering additional fees for outdoor events with multiple reserved days
- Flexibility in accommodating clients’ needs while prioritizing schedule
Fair Pricing and Time Coverage
- Offering discounted rates for longer bookings while ensuring adequate compensation
- Addressing complaints about payment for non-working hours
- Exceptions for loyal clients and mutually beneficial long-term partnerships
Adapting to Unpredictable Weather: Lessons Learned
- The impact of unexpected rainy seasons and lost income
- Implementation of non-refundable booking fees and payment procedures
- Client satisfaction and security with the new arrangement
Balancing Demand: Managing Holiday Bookings
- Securing reservations for holiday-themed balloon twisting as Mrs. Santa Claus
- Reservation fee requirement and flexibility for date changes
- Balancing a rapidly filling schedule with accommodating requests
Protecting Interests: Contracts for Specific Events
- Negotiating a contract with a pumpkin patch, including minimum payment and adverse weather conditions
- Successful fulfillment of contractual obligations despite adverse weather circumstances
- Repeat bookings and positive client feedback for future events
Non Refundable Reservation Fees: Ensuring Commitment
- The use of a “SERVICE AGREEMENT” instead of a contract
- Clarifying the purpose and non-refundable nature of the reservation fee
- Verifying event details and addressing any concerns during the booking process
Minimizing Birthday Party Cancellations: Corporate Accounts and Invoice Management
- Effectively eliminating issues with birthday party cancellations
- Corporate customers appreciating the agreement for accounting purposes
- Offering 30-day open accounts for corporate clients with prompt payment policies
Ensuring Safe Outdoor Events: Rain Contingency and Liability
- Including a clause in the agreement for safe conduct and indoor rain contingency plans
- Mandating full payment if an event is canceled without adequate contingency measures
Sample Agreement: Mike Anderson’s (DragonFire & Magic) Contract (with permission)
Dragonfire & Magic Ink / Circus Tent Productions
2129 Washington Avenue ~ Evansville IN 47714
Voice 812-476-5572 ~ Cell 449-5369 ~ Pager 812-433-6968
This agreement is entered into this _DAY_ day of __MONTH__ by and
between Birdie the Clown, herein referred to as the Artist and
____CLIENT_____, herein referred to as the Purchaser, with the
assistance of Mike Anderson for Dragonfire & Magic, herein referred to
as Agency, for the following services.
1. Purchaser hereby engages the Artist, subject to the terms and
conditions as follows:
Event: 6-day festival promotion
Location: Green River Road, Evansville IN 47715
Time: Tuesday. to Sat. 6-8 PM, Sunday 12-2 PM
Cost: $xx.00 per hour for clown / magician
Special: Actual amount of balloons used for week billed at $xx.00
2. IT is agreed that as full compensation for services provided by
the Artist as above set forth, the Purchaser will pay to the Artist
the sum of $x00.00. A 300.00 Non Refundable Reservation Fee will be
Issued with the signing of this contract. The balance of payment is
to be made in full, on the last day of the event, to the leader of the
Artist group in cash, personal / company check, or money order unless
billing arrangements are in Attachment # 1. Any deviation from the
specific terms of this paragraph by the Purchaser shall constitute a
breach of this entire agreement. Balance of payment may be made by
personal or company check to Dragonfire & Magic 14 days prior to the
event if preferred by purchaser.
3. All outdoor performances must be conducted in a safe manner and
there must be an indoor rain contingency plan, in the event of
cancellation without such contingency, the Purchaser must pay the
contract in full.
4. Purchaser is responsible for providing all permits, licenses and
legal papers needed for any foreign events outside the United States
in a timely manner. Such documents must be provided to the Agency by
the Purchaser no later than 14 days prior to performance. Purchaser
is liable for any costs or expenses related to said permits, licenses
and papers. Any local parade permits or licenses or other legal
documents must be provided to the Agency by the Purchaser no later
than one week prior to the performance. Purchaser is liable for any
costs and expenses related to said permits, licenses and papers. Any
delay or noncompliance to this paragraph will be considered a breach
on the part of the purchaser.
5. The recording, reproduction, filming or transmission of the
Artist’s performances are prohibited without the written consent of
the Artist. The purchaser is granted full permission to shot photos
for their personal use. If used for advertising, a fee must be paid
to artist and modeling releases will be signed.
6. The Purchaser will make available two complimentary tickets per
Artist member for any public events. Tickets are to be sent to Agency
One week prior to performance.
7. The Artist agrees that the Purchaser shall have the right to use
the Artist’s name, approved pictures, other likenesses in connection
with the advertising and publicizing of the engagement hereunder, but
such use shall not be as an endorsement of any product or service, or
for the sale of any merchandise, except with the Artist’s written
Permission. It is also agreed that all advertising, promotion, etc.
referring to the Artist will refer to him/her as Birdie the Clown.
8. Full Photo Rights ARE / ARE NOT granted for any photos taken
during the above engagement.
9. The Agency is acknowledged to have performed its obligations upon
the commencement of this engagement. The Agency shall not be liable
for any breach, default, or failure to perform by either the Purchaser
or Artist. No changes in this Agreement affecting the Agency’s
Commission or its payment shall be made without the written consent of
10. Purchaser agrees to be responsible for the actions of the
Purchaser’s employees and patrons or guests, and to reimburse the
Artist for any damages suffered due to the actions of the Purchaser’s
employees or patrons including harm to Artist’s equipment while such
equipment is at the place of the performance.
11. The Purchaser agrees that the services outlined in Attachment # 1
shall not be cancelled or modified, except by mutual, written consent
of both the Purchaser and the Artist. The attempt by one party to
cancel this Agreement without the permission of the other party shall
be a breach of this agreement.
12. Should either party to this Agreement fail to carry out their
obligations under the terms of this Agreement, the other party may
bring legal proceedings to enforce the terms of this Agreement.
Interest shall be payable to the non-breaching party on the amount of
damages suffered, calculated at the rate of 24% per year. Such
interest shall begin to accrue as of the date of discovery or notice
of the breach of this Agreement by the non-breaching party. Should
either party find it necessary to commence legal action in the case of
breach, or to otherwise enforce the terms of this agreement, the
prevailing party shall be entitled to an award of court costs,
expenses and attorney’s fees incurred in such legal action, in
addition to any damages or legal relief awarded. The parties agree
that venue for any legal action by either party shall be in
Vanderburgh County, State of Indiana, for the purposes of any legal
13. This Agreement cannot be assigned or transferred. This Agreement
contains the complete agreement between the parties. No modification,
or change to this Agreement shall be valid unless made in writing,
dated, and signed by both parties. The validity, interpretation and
enforcement of this agreement shall be governed by the laws of the
State of Indiana, regardless of the place of performance by the
Artist. The terms Artist and Purchaser as used in this Agreement
shall include and apply to the singular and the plural, and to all
14. The person signing this Agreement on behalf of xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx,
hereby warrants and guarantees that he or she had the authority to sign
this Agreement and bind xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx to the terms of this
Agreement, whether xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx is an individual, partnership,
corporation or some other entity. One copy of this Agreement must be
signed and returned to Dragonfire & Magic with the above mentioned Not
Refundable Reservation Fee, within 5 calendar days of September 17,
1998. One countersigned copy will be returned to Buyer at the address
ATTACHMENT # 1
Dragonfire & Magic will provide one clown, blowing animal balloons for
approximately 100-125 guests for Advertising promotion at the above
address. If Buyer wishes clown will also do walk around magic during
part of the engagement. Percentages of balloons to magic to be worked
out during performance by store management on a day to day basis.
Please provide directions to your business on a separate paper when
Returning Non Refundable Reservation Fee and signed Service Agreement.
A signed contract is necessary before start of performance, this is
Required by our Insurance Company even on events contracted the date
of performance where entertainer is paid directly by customer.
We provide a 2 Million-Dollar liability policy on all of our Artists.
If you need a copy of certificate of insurance please allow two weeks
for our Insurance Agent to furnish one to your organization.
Frequently Asked Questions:
> Do you ask for deposits and if you do: What happens if they are calling the week before
I ask for a credit card number. I don’t usually use credit cards for shows since I want the contract back in the mail anyway and getting the check is more of a sure thing than a credit card. (It’s too easy to refuse payment on an over the phone credit charge.)
Before I took credit cards, I used to insist that I got cash at the door before I walked in. This has a number of flaws. It does guarantee that if you do the show you’ll get paid, but there’s no guarantee they won’t send you away when you get there (only happened to me once, but that was once too often). I also believe when working a party that you should be on
the moment you arrive at the door. If you have to stop and ask for money while there’s a room full of kids screaming and waiting for you, it ruins the moment. It’s true that only the youngest kids won’t be aware that you’re paid to be there, but exchanging money in front of all the guests
just doesn’t seem right.
> What happens if someone booked 2 weeks ago and the deposit never came so the day before you call only to find out that they decided that since they never sent the deposit, they didn’t book the show.
I said I wasn’t consistent. This is where I’m sloppiest. I try to stay on top of things, but I often don’t notice that a retainer hasn’t arrived until a few days before the event. First, if someone else calls and asks for that time, I inform them that I have tentative booking and that I’ll get back to them later. Then I call the person that I’m waiting to get a check from and get an answer right then and there. If I can, I get a credit card number from them at that point to solidify things. If they’re not sure they want you, you can usually get that out of them when you say you need to book that time slot.
If that doesn’t happen, when I notice that I haven’t received payment, I call them then. If they cancel, it doesn’t hurt me because I didn’t have any other calls for that same time and I haven’t made a wasted trip out to their house.
That one time that I was promised cash at the door and they weren’t home, I was fuming. They left a message with a neighbor that they decided to cancel the party.
I do not require a deposit as I feel I’m dealing with business people and should be able to have some trust in them. My confirmation letter does state a minimum time for any cancellations. I request at least 30 days notice. I also state in the letter. For all outdoor performances there must be an indoor bad weather contingency plan. In the event of cancellation due to bad weather without such contingency, the Purchaser must pay the contract in full. In 25 years of performing I have always been paid when due and have never had a cancellations where I was not paid.
I do not require a deposit as I feel I’m dealing with business people and should be able to have some trust in them. businesses are the ones most likely to give me problems. It has most often been my business customers who are slow to pay (if they pay at all), bounce checks, make last minute changes or outright cancellations, etc…
THAT is why I don’t trust businesses. Usually, as soon as I realize I’m talking to a business, I either turn it down, or refer it to one of the more desperate performers in town. I don’t need the headaches.
I give them that trust if I’ve worked with them before. In fact, if I’ve worked with them and they request it, I’ll give 30 day terms and take the money later since, as you indicate, standard business practices are good to conform to. However, I have had problems with small businesses not paying on time. Actually I’ve had problems with really huge businesses not paying on time. Once I know them, I’m not as concerned.
> For all outdoor performances there must be an indoor bad weather contingency plan. In the event of cancellation due to bad weather without such contingency, the Purchaser must pay the contract in full.
I actually say the same thing. When I said it wouldn’t be so bad to offer a credit toward rescheduling, what I had in mind was the situation we had here a week ago where some indoor locations ended up being outdoors. That wasn’t simply bad weather. That was a state of emergency. In fact, in some areas, I believe it still is designated a state of emergency. I still
have a power line lying on the ground in my backyard. While I want to be paid, I will make an exception and allow for the worst possible situation to arise. I just offer that as a courtesy since I’d hate to be the one stuck with a bill like that. if it looks like they’re filming Twister 2 in your town, I agree you have to be flexible.
The way I tell ’em isIf a weather condition makes it impossible for us or your guests to travel (as in the case of a major blizzard), you owe us nothing and we will refund any deposit received. If
weather merely makes your event unattractive (as in the case of a rained-out picnic) you will owe us half the contract rate. Any performance on a subsequent rain date (if we have the time available to offer you) would be at the full contract price.
I usually take a deposit. Luckily I have had few cancellations. However, those who cancel due to some sort of family tragedy or other unfortunate event get their deposits returned with a sympathetic note. I feel this is the right thing to do. By chance it is also good business. These people often become life long customers for subsequent events and are quick to recommend me to their friends.
I tell people that I need the deposit within a week. I have never had someone not mail me the deposit in a timely fashion. I also have not had one cancellation since I started using deposits (about one year).
Records – I keep all my job sheets and completed contracts on a clipboard in date order – and when I send out a contract I put on the clipboard a sheet with the client’s name and contract-due date – that’s an automatic tickler for a followup if the deposit is not here by then.
More of My Thoughts on Contracts
Sometimes you get to an event you booked, only to find that there are other twisters working your crowd. We have had that happen to us several times. Because of this, we no longer twist at festivals or other events unless we are either paid by the promoters or, given a written exclusive that we write. It includes a clause that states that the promoter will immediately expel or close down ANY other person/persons giving away (and in most cases, selling) balloons or face painting. This includes guests who are just entertaining the crowd, and Church Groups promoting such events as Vacation Bible School.
We also include a statement that says we will be handsomely compensated not only for ALL of our actual expenses including fees, lodging, food, travel, etc., but ALSO for an additional amount which we anticipate we would have earned at another event instead of theirs.
In my neck of the woods, (Southern California) I have found that a minimal deposit ($25.00) per event works unless it’s a major corporate event. My partner/wife Kelley and I do this for any event under the cost of $500.00. Then we have a 50% deposit. We didn’t take deposits until we received a number of calls from bogus events i.e. showing up at an address that turned out to be a parking lot, or abandoned gas station. We have always used a signed confirmation with details about the event anyway, now they just add the deposit along with a signature. If it is a client that we have used in the past, we waive this deposit.
My first suggestion is to put on the contract that you send out that it will be invalid if not returned by a certain date. That doesn’t always work. If they decide later they want you, you end up sending another contract. But often it gets the message out that you can’t wait forever, and if another booking comes along after the end date of the contract, you can take it.
Technically, a deposit is returnable. Refer to it as a retainer. Actually, to be incredibly clear, I say non-refundable retainer. They can still refuse those terms, but the language you use can
make a difference if they accept and there’s a dispute later.
If they say that they need the deposit to be refundable, I’d first try Bruce’s suggestion. I say that in my contract that if there is a cancellation due to weather or other unexpected circumstances (school closing, roof blows off the building …) they can use the retainer toward another event within a year from the scheduled date, provided it works with my schedule.
I have a contract in front of me right now for a job in Rochester, NY that describes terms for working in Northern Ireland. A lot of places just have a standard contract and need all contractors to agree to the same terms. be prepared to be treated the same as the guy fixing the roof. They may be unrelated jobs, but you’re both contractors and some
places don’t see the difference.
I do not have deposits, I have Non Refundable Event Reservation Fees, if something unavoidable happens, tornado, flood, or other unpredictable cancellation they can use the Reservation Fee to book their next event. IF the date and time is compatible with my schedule.
It was not clear from your message how you handle your contracts. It has always been our policy to send two copies of the contract unsigned, along with a S.A.S.E. Our cover letter tells the potential employer to look over the contracts, sign both of them and return them both to us in the envelope provided. After we review the contract, we will sign both and then return one to the employer. If you sign first, the other party can make changes without your consent. Then it is your word against a contract signed by you. Guess who will lose!
We have a three copy contract form that we get reproduced at our local Staples. These are the forms that are white on the 1st page, yellow on second and pink on third. We fill in the blanks
of the contract on an electric typewriter and sign them all. The pink copy goes in our file, the white and yellow copies go to the client and they sign and return white with a deposit and keep the yellow for their records. Until deposit and signed original are back to us, the pink stays filed in order of date and we can easily see what contracts are still out there and
what is firm with $ in hand.
THE CONTRACT APPLIES TO YOU TOO!
I got a call Friday morning from a mother who had booked a clown/balloon twister for her child’s birthday that Saturday. She wanted to know if I could come to the party. The other performer couldn’t make it and had told the woman he was overbooked. I get this type of call fairly often.
Now, I’ve been doing this for more than a decade. I am busy and I consider myself successful, but I do not grasp the concept of overbooking. I suspect that when a performer tells a client he or she is overbooked, what he is really saying isI found a higher paying gig for that time slot. I think that hurts our business and I see no excuse for it. If you don’t make enough money on a birthday show, start charging more.
But don’t ruin a five-year-old’s party just because you can make more by dumping the kid to work at Conglomo’s company picnic.
This is a big pet peeve of mine. We have two different clowns in our area that are notorious for doing this. Once I had a school call. The clown they booked for a show called and canceled that day’s show by leaving a message on their answering machine the night before. One
time a grandmother called, her granddaughter had gone to school crying because the clown canceled for that afternoon. Of course I did the show. People like this give us all a bad name. There is no excuse for this. Both of these people knew other clowns. If an emergency came up,
they could have found someone to fill in for them.
Always Consider This When Canceling on a Client
Regardless of your role in event entertainment – be it a clown, a balloon twister, or a musician – unexpected circumstances like illness can derail plans. Take, for instance, a guitarist friend whose lead singer fell sick right before a wedding. Through quick networking, he found a last-minute replacement that saved the day.
Everyone needs a backup plan. Consider identifying potential substitutes who could step in if needed, even if it costs a bit more. This investment can boost your business’s reputation in the long run. In my personal experience, I had to refund a client once and even offered them a free service hour next time they booked me. An apology letter, a discount, or a free service can mend bridges.
If a substitute is available, inform your client and confirm whether a stand-in would be acceptable. This alternative not only maintains your professionalism but also allows the substitute to earn their fee. You can then decide on the finder’s fee you want to keep, which is typically between 10-50% of the full price.
Having established friendly relationships within the industry, I have a list of people I trust to deliver excellent performances if I need to cancel. When I step in as a substitute, I ensure I respect my colleagues’ relationships with their clients. This respect includes not promoting my services to a client I served as a substitute for, unless the client contacts me directly.
Even when substituting, I make it clear to the client that I’m filling in for a friend. This clarity upholds the integrity of the relationships within the industry. The bottom line is, helping a friend should come from a place of goodwill rather than competition. We should be ready to step in, to the best of our abilities, when a fellow professional is in need, even if the reward isn’t substantial. However, it’s essential to recognize our limitations and only accept assignments that we are confident we can deliver on.
Regardless of unforeseen circumstances, the onus is on the service provider to ensure the customer’s needs are met. It’s a matter of professional etiquette and responsibility to find a suitable replacement if one can’t fulfill an obligation. This situation also underscores the value of having strong industry connections, which can often provide better solutions than a customer might find independently.
In my own business, for instance, I always ensure there’s an available “floater” – an unscheduled performer who can step in at a moment’s notice. This contingency plan coupled with my cordial relations with local entertainment agencies has proven invaluable in finding substitutes during emergencies. Embracing a spirit of cooperation rather than competition with industry peers can streamline handling such unexpected situations. Remember, the satisfaction of our young audience is paramount; monetary considerations come second. Even if it means directing a show to a competitor, ensuring a successful event, and keeping the customer, the competitor, and the children happy is the ultimate goal.
In my personal experience, there have only been three instances in my entire career when I couldn’t make a booking due to severe illness. In such cases, I either arranged for a competent substitute or refunded the deposit and scheduled a free booking at a later date. This approach, born from a genuine concern and willingness to rectify any disappointment, has not only salvaged the situation but also earned me commendation from clients for demonstrating professionalism and integrity.
Managing Weather Disruptions in Event Planning
Parties and events, particularly those held outdoors, are subject to the whims of Mother Nature. A sudden downpour or an unexpected snowfall could disrupt the best-laid plans. Here’s a brief overview of how I handle such uncertainties and ensure that parties go on, come rain or snow.
Establishing a Rain Date
When planning an outdoor event, it’s wise to always schedule a backup ‘rain date’. This is an agreed-upon alternative date on which I, or another performer, will be available should the weather decide not to cooperate on the original date. However, it’s important to note that I can’t guarantee to leave the backup date open unless it’s a time slot with little likelihood of booking conflict, such as a mid-week evening.
Incorporating Contingency Plans
If clients haven’t yet considered a Plan B, my first recommendation is typically to rent a tent or secure an indoor space as a precaution. This way, they can be assured that the event will proceed as planned on the agreed date, regardless of the weather. Most clients do keep an indoor venue on reserve as a safety net.
Facing Extreme Weather Conditions
Should extreme weather conditions like heavy snowfall or an earthquake make it impossible to reach the venue, I adopt a flexible approach. Understanding that I wouldn’t be able to reach any other event under such circumstances either, I don’t hold clients accountable. I assure them that the quoted price will remain unchanged should they choose to reschedule. Even for events where snow could be an issue, I commit to showing up unless the client decides to cancel.
Considering Seasonal Factors
When booking parties in spring or summer, it’s essential to ask if the event is outdoors and, if so, what arrangements exist for inclement weather. The same applies to corporate events and large outdoor fairs. As a rule of thumb, always ask this question, as party planners often optimistically anticipate perfect weather. If clients have a well-thought-out plan, they’ll already have a rain date or indoor alternative. Then, it’s your decision whether to reserve two days for the same event.
Forming Reciprocal Arrangements with Peers
It might be beneficial to network with local balloon twisters to form reciprocal agreements. If you’re already booked for a rain date or wish to keep options open, you can assure the client that a competent entertainer will be available, even if it isn’t you. This reassures the client of your professionalism and strong network of performers.
Implementing Rainout Solutions
My company’s solution to rainouts relies on common sense and flexibility. We agree that if it rains at a predetermined hour on the event day, the performer will reschedule at no extra charge or for a nominal fee. If no agreement is in place and the performer arrives to an empty venue, the fee is non-refundable. Nonetheless, we always strongly recommend arranging a backup venue for rainouts.
Including Weather Clauses in Contracts
My performance contract includes a clause covering inability to perform due to illness, weather, or acts of nature. If an event is scheduled outdoors, I query the client about their alternative plans in case of rain. If no such plan exists, or the event is canceled due to rain, I provide a ‘rain check’ which is valid for a future event at the same rates.
Remember This About Contracts
Navigating the Legalities of Event Contracts
Event contracts play a pivotal role in establishing the terms and conditions of an agreement between the event service provider and the customer. Their design should reflect the unique requirements of your business while adhering to regional laws.
Understanding Deposits and Retainers
In certain jurisdictions, like Arizona, there are distinctions between deposits and retainers. If the upfront payment is termed a ‘deposit’, it is considered refundable. However, if you intend to keep this amount regardless of cancellation, you should refer to it as a ‘retainer’. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the legalities surrounding this in your particular state.
Tailoring Contracts to Your Needs
It’s crucial that your contract or agreement clearly outlines the services you’re providing and the required deposit. The deposit serves dual purposes – securing the date and time of the event and allowing you to order necessary supplies. You might also consider including a clause for a waiting period charge, particularly if there’s a delay in receiving the final payment upon completion of your services. Remember to specify your cancellation policy, detailing how much advance notice is acceptable for cancellations.
Building Custom Contracts
One useful approach is to utilize software, such as Business Law Partner, to build tailored contracts for each job. This allows you to incorporate clauses that are unique to your service, such as an ‘exclusive balloons’ clause. This can protect you in instances where you might arrive at an event to find your balloons supplemented by someone else’s. Incorporating a penalty fee for this situation can prevent such occurrences in the future.
Enforcing a Non-Refundable Booking Fee
Deposits, or non-refundable booking fees, contribute towards the final total balance. If clients cancel their booking, they forfeit this amount. It’s important to communicate this to clients upfront, explaining that the booking fee secures their chosen date exclusively for them. This ensures a transparent process and helps manage expectations effectively.
QBN tape #5, The Business Side of Balloons, tells you the six things you should have in your contract:
- Description of Work (be specific)
- Payment terms and conditions
- Strike down arrangements (charge if you have to do it)
- Bad weather policy (for outdoor events)
- Design change fees
- Ownership of materials and what they are responsible should they become lost or damaged during the event.
ALWAYS GET AND PUT EVERYTHING IN WRITING!!!!!
My contracts cover me pretty well to the point that people make arrangements with me in advance for the pickup of my poles, bases and frames. It insures that they won’t be charged and I don’t lose anything.
How do you cover yourself when you’re half done with a job and for some reason you realize that it can’t be completed? Our contract states that we cannot be held liable
for actions by others, or weather conditions beyond your control. In such a case you retain the right to abort the project at any time should you believe that to continue may damage the reputation of the client and/or your company. Compensation must be fairly calculated and based upon the amount of work completed and financial loss incurred prior to the decision to abort; and subject to auditing by a mutually agreeable arbitrator in the event the client disputes the compensation claim.
As a rule we request a reasonable deposit at the TIME OF PLACING ORDER This is the client’s firm commitment to the order. Make it quite clear that PAYMENT IN FULL is required PRIOR to the date of the event. (everyone has a credit card). We say the job remains an ESTIMATE ONLY until a deposit is paid. The materials will not even be packed until the job is classified as an order!
When large companies ask us for 30 day accounts, we say that our small business is not partial to financing BIG business. ALL large corporations have the means to pay at a moment’s notice if necessary. And do you need work so bad that you are prepared to wait 4,6 or 8 weeks to get paid?
I recently worked at a street fair Because the fair was organized to raise money, they could not
pay me outright. Therefore I asked for and got a contract that specifically prohibited any other clowns, twisters or magicians at the fair. Also the participating businesses were prohibited
from hiring any entertainment of that sort. That way I could work for tips and guarantee my pay.
I also know a balloon artist who includes a clause that, if she finds any other balloons in the area where she is contracted to decorate/twist, she can leave and still get paid because
she does good work and does not want to have shabby work mistaken for hers. Good business sense. We are in the business of smiles but we all have an investment to protect at times.
You may consider placing a clause in your contract that the business owner is responsible for ALL permits & permissions associated with each job. I can also say that you are just one step ahead of the game now (and for your experience; so are we all) and you might just want to look into all the laws that pertain to the types of things you offer, and create a little pamphlet
for your customers so that they do not unknowingly violate the law when using balloon decor and then know where to get permits & where you get them, etc. You can then also promote yourself as being a professional who is familiar with all things that affect your clients, as it relates to your services.
Outdoor balloon decor job…… don’t forget the most critical thing of all. Write a CANCELATION / INCLEMENT WEATHER CLAUSE in your contract with your client. Don’t let a rained out concert leave you with a pile of stock and equipment purchased, and no money from the customer. Unusually high wind on the day must give you the option to alter the decor design and content if deemed necessary by your installation crew.
What will happen if it rains?
If there’s a rain date, who will contact you to reschedule?
Can the balloon decor can be brought indoors?
Because inflation is likely to occur on site on the same day, you can
be somewhat flexible in what is to be created with the materials at hand.
Do they want you to return and primp it each day?
Who’s going to remove it?