Happy Client Hack: No Soup For You

In a sense, there are two parts to a scope of work. There’s the first part, which are the things in the contract that are being INCLUDED (a list and description of the work that’s being performed, how it is being performed, etc). This is the part we naturally think about when it’s time to draft the specifications of a project.

But then there’s the other part, the exclusions. The part where you need to tell the clients what they AREN’T getting. The exclusions are that slippery bar of soap that’s always trying to evade your grasp. They are the less intuitive part of the contract, but properly calling out what’s excluded is what guards against that conversation that all of us have had at some point…they client saying “Oh, well, I thought that was included.” Sometimes this happens from gray area that was easily missed, and sometimes it happens simply because your client isn’t an expert on building and doesn’t how how the industry usually works.

Both lead down the same path, one that’s unnecessary with just a little up front work. As you build your project specifications and think about all the things you are including, view those specifications through the lens of what things are not being included. Here’s a sample list of some common problem areas:

  1. Site work – What fences, trees, and other aspects of the property are not being touched?

  2. Permits – Are there certain fees or permits you are paying and others you are expecting the client to pay themselves?

  3. Finish items – Some builders don’t include fridges. It’s probably worth listing this on your contract. Perhaps you have pre-wired for security and surround sound. It probably doesn’t hurt to explain that no speakers or interfaces are included.

  4. The list goes on…

This takes a little common sense, because one can argue that the list of exclusions is almost infinite. And while this objection is true, it’s also easily overcome. The goal is to list those exclusions that are most likely to be questioned. For the rest, simply note somewhere on the contract that the exclusions include, but are not limited to, those listed. This way you don’t get boxed in to listing everything under the sun when you begin to list a few of the more obvious ones.

There you have it. This wraps up our mini-series on happy client hacks. If you have any of your own, send ‘em our way!


BTW, if you are looking to improve some of your company’s systems, head on over to the Building Optimal Shop to check out some of our swag to build a better business. Proceeds go to benefit, Exponencialistas, my non-profit investing in entrepreneurs transforming their communities in Latin America.

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