Contracts are a very important part of your business, and keeping them is crucial when it comes to communicating with clients, setting expectations, defining your relationship, and protecting your business. But it can be hard to keep up with every aspect of running a business while also keeping track of your paperwork – even if it's digital.
Don't worry, we've got you covered. We can provide information on how to use contracts, what templates to use, and what to include in your contracts. And, we help make sure you're protected throughout the entire process.
Contracts may seem like the first step, but they are the tie that binds you and your client. Here are some of our recommendations and some guidelines on how long you should keep your client contracts.
Use Digital Client Contracts
There are many reasons why using digital client contracts in your fitness business is a good idea. It saves trees, saves time, and increases your efficiency – leaving you more time to find new clients and serve the ones you have.
You can also reduce the chances of emails not going through because the file is too large when you scan a copy of a paper contract. Digital contracts also make it much easier for your clients to sign and send back.
If you're looking for some suggestions on digital contract systems to use, check out these:
- Gravity Forms (Great also for client questionnaires and forms)
- DocuSign Ink App for iPad
- MachForm – Embeds into the site
- Hello Sign – Online signing
- DocuSign- Online signing
If you're switching from paper copy to one of these digital programs, you can scan in your older contracts and back them all up in one place.
Always Back Up in Threes
After both parties have signed the contract, it's time to store it – in a way that means it can be easily found at any time. Make sure you back up your contracts as well, in three places. One of those places should be off-site, either digitally or physically.
Here are some ideas on backup systems that can help you keep track of your business-related paperwork.
- Backblaze automatically backs up your entire computer and external hard drives to a cloud
- Dropbox can automatically back up all documents put into this
- External hard drive for a physical backup, but never rely on this alone!
If you use an online system for your client contracts, you'll still need a backup. Yes, most of those programs have one, but the rule of three's shouldn't be ignored. Don't forget that you may have to schedule or export the forms for backup regularly.
Keep Your Files
There may not be a hard and fast rule for how long you keep contracts or business paperwork, but if they are digital, what's the harm in keeping them forever? Ok, maybe not forever, but there certainly doesn't need to be a rush to get rid of them because you need the space.
When it comes to taxes, the rule of thumb is seven years. Contracts could be kept for just as long, or even more. Yes, most issues or claims about breaches of contracts will come up before that seven-year mark, but it's not definite.
Once you've switched your contract system over to digital, arrange a way to back up everything on a regular schedule and decide how long to keep your files. Then, you can go back to running your business without worry.