Have you ever heard the phrase "doctors make terrible patients?" The same goes for lawyers — sometimes they make for demanding clients, primarily where contracts are concerned! So, what should you do if your client wants to alter the contract?
Of course, you want potential clients to ask questions if they feel like something isn't right or are confused, but sometimes lawyers can be a little pushy when they are the client. If you aren't a lawyer, but your client is, you might be tempted to follow their wishes. But what if you aren't comfortable with that?
Whether the client is looking to waive a potential cancellation fee, lower the monthly payment, or reduce the contract's time, you can make each decision individually by answering just a few questions.
Who is your client?
The first question that you would need to ask yourself is who is your client. Sometimes, this can get confusing, but the bottom line is that your client is the person signing your contract. That's the person you need to be negotiating with.
What is more important to you?
You have a choice, do you want to stick to the contract, or do you want to keep this client? This will determine how much you are going to budge in the negotiations. If there's a benefit in having this client for your fitness business, you may be more accommodating to altering things. But if you think there is going to be more trouble than you're willing to deal with, then it may be better to stick to your original contract.
Which terms are you willing to alter?
If you have decided that the client is worth negotiating with, you must determine what contract terms you're willing to negotiate. Try not to be emotional when looking at the suggested changes, and take a moment to look at it from your client's point of view. Sometimes, the boilerplate terms in the contract don't impact your business. Changing wording may not matter, but changing your payment terms may affect your business in a way that you aren't comfortable with.
Do you feel like the terms are fair?
Let's look at the terms that you may be willing to negotiate. If a client comes to you knowing they will be in the area for six months and wants to have a contract for that period, instead of the 12 months you regularly require with no penalty – is that something you find fair? Probably.
But if someone comes to you wants a 50% discount on your regular membership price for no apparent reason and with no gain to your business, you can probably easily pass on that one.
No one wants to lose a client, but you may have to decide that you aren't the right fit for everyone. If they aren't willing to negotiate on a contract, are they going to be an asset in your community? Are they going to argue with everything you suggest?
By taking the time to explain your "why" behind your contract terms, you are protecting yourself, your business, and the fitness industry. You don't have to accept any or all terms a client suggests. Losing clients is hard, but sometimes it's the best way to grow your business.