I can’t speak for all businesses, but from my perspective most businesses have a signed agreement before they provide services for either an individual or a business. However, invariably it is those transactions in which the agreement was never actually signed that cause the most problems for the business owner.
The typical fact pattern goes something like this: an individual wants some work done to his home, he approaches an electrical contractor for a bid, the contractor gives the homeowner a bid, the homeowner says, “yeah, that is fine but I need the work done right away because of (insert any emergency situation here).”
Contractor, says, “great, it just so happens that I have some time available within your time frame, if you will just sign this agreement I will go ahead and order the material that I will need for the job.”
Homeowner, says “Yeah, I will sign it, I just can’t do it today because (insert any half-baked excuse you can imagine).
That should be definite red-flag to the contractor, or to any other business owner for that matter; however, due to a downturn in the construction industry and perhaps being a little strapped for cash and against the contractors better judgment he reluctantly takes the homeowner at his word and begins the project.
At the end of the day the contractor incurred the expense of the project and now the homeowner is unwilling to pay and the contractor is placed in the unenviable position of having to decide to cut his losses and move on or he can go after the homeowner for his damages, which will require a further outlay of cash and time.
The point of this post is this, if you are going to provide a service and would like to give yourself the best opportunity to be paid for that service, then you must get the agreement in writing. I know that this is not earth shattering information, but it is worth repeating as everyone knows that they need to put an agreement in writing, yet from time to time exceptions are made and the exception leads to a big headache.
The bottom line is this: If you want to increase you ability to get fully paid for every service you provide and therefore increase your bottom line then you must not perform any work before you receive a signed writing spelling out the extent of the agreement.
If for some unknown reason you find yourself proceeding without an agreement, then my advice to you would be to begin rubbing your rabbit’s foot or looking for that four leaf clover because it will likely take all of the luck in the world for you to get paid in full and on time. If someone does not want to put it in writing then they certainly do not want to pay for it.