As we are all well aware by this point as small business owners, Covid-19 has severely impacted the way we contract with our clients. One of the most important lessons learned in 2020 is the act of updating your client contracts to include certain policies that your small business practices surrounding Covid. It is VITAL to not only update these within your contracts, but send out these updates to your clients, have them sign the new contract, and also inform them of any new Covid-19 Policies that you have in place in order to serve them well while abiding by local and state guidelines.
1. It’s Time to Update Your Covid-19 Policies
Many of you have probably added in our Covid-19 Postponement & Cancellation Clause to your contract. That is 100% fine, and was appropriate to use during the period of March-October 2020 when new clients were trying to book with you and wanted a little pressure release on rescheduling in case of issues with hosting their wedding/event due to Covid. If you have clients that signed contracts with this clause in them then you as the business owner will have to stick to that policy moving forward with those clients that have already contracted with you.
BUT, as Covid has become an unending thing in today’s world until we get a vaccine (and millions/billions of people vaccinated), you are now posed with having to make some hard rules for not allowing rescheduling and cancellations. The Legal Paige is seeing more and more business owners in the wedding and event industry not allowing clients to reschedule or cancel anymore due to Covid for new bookings. This is because if clients are choosing to plan an event right now in the midst of the pandemic, they are accepting the risk that Covid poses and choose voluntarily to proceed with those planning risks. Not to mention, your business is willing to block out dates on your calendar and say no to other clients; thus, you cannot afford to allow unending reschedules or cancellations into 2021 and 2022.
That being said, we here at TLP have created a NEW Covid Clause that is called the Acknowledgement of Covid-19 and No Rescheduling Dueto Covid Clause that can be added to your new client contracts moving forward instead of the “Covid-19 Postponement & Cancellation Clause” under these circumstances. The difference here is that now we are URGING wedding industry professionals to not allow a complimentary reschedule for clients, and, instead, to charge a rescheduling fee. This clause will help you communicate to your clients that you DON’T allow rescheduling due to Covid and what your specific business policies are surrounding changing up a date in 2021 due to fear of Covid. It also outlines to your clients that you will continue to perform your services for their wedding/event as long as you are legally able to do so (aka as long as there isn’t a stay-at-home order in place, you contract Covid, or you are deemed a “close contact” with someone who tested positive and are supposed to quarantine for the health and safety of others). Thus, as long as you can operate your business and do what you are contracted to do for your clients, you will continue to do so and maintain the utmost safety and health precautions.
The big thing here is to CHOOSE one policy that your business follows for all clients from here on out. Ask yourself what works best for your morals and values as a business owner: are you going to allow them to reschedule or cancel with a certain days notice prior to the wedding/event due to Covid?! Or, are you not going to allow rescheduling whatsoever and your clients must continue their wedding/event as planned while abiding by the local and state guidelines (and if they choose to cancel/reschedule they will forfeit their fees paid)?!
2. Communicate Your New COVID Policy With Your Clients!
Make it SUPER clear in your communication with clients what you will do if Covid still impacts their wedding/event in 2021 or even into 2022. This is what clients are most worried about and expect you to have an answer to right when they inquire! What better way to overdeliver as a service provider than to proactively send them your policy and ease their minds that you have a plan in place and are prepared.
Hence, once you have a plan for what you are going to do regarding Covid-19, you need to put those policies into action. The first way to do so is to add those policies into your contract. Having those policies in your contract is one more way to communicate those policies to your clients AND have clauses that protect you both by setting clear expectations and guidelines for how you are addressing Covid-19 related issues.
Then, you will send your clients an email informing them about the updates. You will do this via email and attach your new updated contract at the bottom. Be clear and tell them what specific sections you’ve updated and where they can find those sections in your contract. Also, make sure to clearly spell out what your actual Covid-19 Policy is, be conspicuous in your contract with proper headings for that Covid Clause, and then even add in an initial box so your clients have to initial that they read and agree to your updated policy.
Here is a template email that you can copy & paste when you send your updated Covid-19 Policy and contract to your clients:
I hope you are staying safe and healthy during this time. My business does not take Covid lightly and I am doing everything possible to ensure that my clients are well taken care of. I wanted to point out the updated Covid policies my business has in place in order to better protect my clients. Specifically, I wanted to lay out my Covid policies for all my clients and ensure my contract is more clear and fully addresses Covid-19, the global pandemic, and all the issues that could possibly affect my services with all the unknowns of this virus. I want you to know that I have a plan in place and have your back under every “what if” situation.
First and foremost, here is my updated Covid-19 Policy as of [enter date]:
- [Bullet point list and explain what your Covid-19 Policy is surrounding the PPE you will wear, how far you will stand away from your clients, and your sanitation procedures]
- [If you expect people to wear masks around you and your contractors/employees]
- [If you have the right to leave the event if you are uncomfortable with wedding guests not following local Covid-19 guidelines]
I have also updated my client contract moving into 2021 and kindly ask that you re-sign. Here are the specific clauses that have been changed and/or added that you should take an extra peek at:
Covid Cancellation and Rescheduling Clause
[Explain what this clause is, and how it will affect your contract with your clients (make sure you choose either this clause or the Acknowledgement of Covid-19 clause below. DO NOT put in both!)]
Acknowledgement of Covid-19 and No Rescheduling Clause
[Explain what this clause is, and how it will affect your contract with your clients (make sure you choose either this clause or the Covid-19 Postponement & Cancellation clause above. DO NOT put in both!)]
[Add in more clauses you updated if necessary here..(if none, delete this sentence.)]
Thank you for taking the time to read through my new Covid policies. I truly believe it’s better to be prepared and have a plan as a small business! If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
I appreciate your business and look forward to continuing to work with you!
[enter your name]”
THIS BLOG POST IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL ADVICE. EVERY SITUATION IS DIFFERENT & IS FACT-SPECIFIC. A proper legal analysis is necessary based on your location and contract. Consult an attorney in your home state for advice regarding your contract or specific legal situation.