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Anybody Willing To Share Their Paperwork?


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So, I did a modification to a guys guitar yesterday and he was happy with it and gave me the money we agreed upon for it, but I felt very unprofessional taking his money without giving him some sort of receipt. And even more unprofessional taking his guitar before that without some sort of work order form filled out and carbonless copied with some little stub or something for him to take. Perhaps it's because I work in the print industry for my day job, but I see those sorts of forms come through all the time and I was thinking that somebody has to have written one specifically for guitar repairs and mods.

So my question is, do any of you guys have one that you are willing to share? Just like a generic Word or PDF file that anybody can fill in their company name and print a dozen copies, so that we have something to give our customers and look all professional. I can offer my services in graphics design to make it look pretty and make it a fillable-field PDF file for your customers to download or something like that. Perhaps it could be a forum project?

My concern is that even though he might be happy with the mod now, what if he wants to say that I ruined his guitar later? Legally I would have nothing I can do. And I'm sure others here may have similar concerns.

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My concern is that even though he might be happy with the mod now, what if he wants to say that I ruined his guitar later? Legally I would have nothing I can do. And I'm sure others here may have similar concerns.

Doubting your own work? Sounds like you are far from ready to be charging for it. Know what i mean? Why should someone be confident in your ability, if even you arent?

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Perry, it may be the fact that the guy's in the states and they sue eachother for just about everything - or i may be wrong and you may be right.

If you are so unconfident in your ability to do this work, then dont take it on. Thats all im saying. Having doubts after the fact ISNT good. If the quality is there, and you dont agree with the concept, thats a totally different debate.

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Perry, i totally understand what you were saying, i was just trying to counterpoint that him being 'unconfident about his ability' may not have been the major reason for his question knowing what the states is like. I work, and have done for 20 years, as a buyer and technical manager for the biggest aluminium wheel wholesalers in Europe with a turnover well in excess of €280,000,000 and we won't even send a wheel nut to the states because of the public liability laws over there. Anyway, as i said in my first post, i may have got this all wrong and your assumption may be the correct one.

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Batfink's right, CYA* is a rule to live by here. I learned my lesson; for my business, I get everything in writing and save every email correspondence. More than once, a client has signed off on a spec & later complained that something wasn't implemented, or implemented incorrectly. Things can get very sticky if you don't have any proof on your side.

*Cover Your A$$

Edited by DC Ross
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Thanks guys, this is helpful.

As far as confidence in my work goes, I am 100% positive that I did exactly what he asked me to do for a fair price and within the time limit he gave me. However, I am ultra-critical of my own work and if I don't get to do things my way, I'm not necessarily happy with it. I told him that I absolutely guarantee my work and that if there's any problems or further work needed that he just had to contact me.

I made sure that he was well aware of all of his options before I even took the job and he finally came back and knew specifically what he wanted. He gave me a limited amount of time and I got it done within that limit. As it is right now, I'm a beginner thirsty for work, so I don't charge much. I don't think he could have gone anywhere else to get the same high-quality work for that good of a price.

It's true that I'm not as good as many others out there, and my work is not always flawless, but I back it up, even if it costs me and I believe that everyone has to start somewhere.

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Thanks guys, this is helpful.

As far as confidence in my work goes, I am 100% positive that I did exactly what he asked me to do for a fair price and within the time limit he gave me. However, I am ultra-critical of my own work and if I don't get to do things my way, I'm not necessarily happy with it. I told him that I absolutely guarantee my work and that if there's any problems or further work needed that he just had to contact me.

I made sure that he was well aware of all of his options before I even took the job and he finally came back and knew specifically what he wanted. He gave me a limited amount of time and I got it done within that limit. As it is right now, I'm a beginner thirsty for work, so I don't charge much. I don't think he could have gone anywhere else to get the same high-quality work for that good of a price.

It's true that I'm not as good as many others out there, and my work is not always flawless, but I back it up, even if it costs me and I believe that everyone has to start somewhere.

You have the right attitude, keep it up and the work will come.

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You could probably go check the OLF for this topic, I believe it has come up before.

As far as your liability for work done, it is better to have everything clearly stated in a written contract. A basic invoice is not going to due much good, although it will make for a nice document come tax time (I assume you are paying taxes on your income as a business, since you have taken this beyond the hobby level).

You are not going to remove your liability with these documents (your work is your work, if damages are done due to your services you are liable. One can't enter into a good faith arrangement, and not satisfy their end), but it will hopefully move you away from just he said she said in small claims court. You can define the limits of your warrenty, and help define what is in the scope of your service(hopefully a judge will be able to understand or believe you that something was "normal" wear or "not altered by your service" (never really know if a judge is going to have a clue about the product or its useage).

Rich

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Yup, you should only trust your friends as far as you can throw them and trust your customers even less. I have four forms

Modification form: Stipulates modifications being made to the guitar as agreed upon by me and the customer. It included the product name, part number and description of every part being replaced or added. It also has a disclaimer that I retain the right to keep any parts removed from the guitar unless otherwise asked by the customer for the return of parts removed. If they do request. Each part they request back is listed on the form. I write the SN of the guitar being modified. It then has a final price and a completion date (usually a date range) This is then signed and dated by me and my the customer. It also has my business information. I get the original copy and the customer gets a copy. On the back is a copy of my warranty.

Custom build form: Outlines the shape the customer wants, specification on measurements, wood specification, hardware specification and finish requirements. I usually print the form with a copy of the design (theirs or my own) so it is actually printed on the signed form. A date range is specified and it's signed and dated by both. I also put a disclaimer on there that the date range can be modified at my discretion. On the back is a copy of my warranty.

Vintage/classic waiver: Disclaimer that states doing any modification lowers the value or any vintage instrument and compromises the collectability of any instrument. It states that I am not responsible for the drop in value of any instrument due to changes requested by the owner. It also states that I am not an authorized repairman for any manufacturer and by me doing modification to the guitar it will void their warranty. Anyone having repair work or modification completed must sign this before work is completed.

deposit form: I also require a deposit which always covers my costs (not labor) and once the deposit is paid they get a receipt which is up to my desecration on what they get back . The customer pulls out, they get what ever hardware- lumber I have purchased for the build so far or if I choose I will just refund the cash (if I like the lumber/hardware enough to keep it. This form is also signed and dated by the customer and myself.

I live in the US- land of stupid lawsuits and customer's who change their minds and don't tell you until it's too late! Better to have a bunch of paper work to file to cover your butt!

Oh and a good step to take. In the digital age, take pictures of the guitar before and after. Control cavities, new hardware- what every you do. Works nicely in court.

Edited by zyonsdream
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Post #11, zyonsdream. That's exactly what I'm talking about. Seems to me that anybody trying to make it in this business should have all of those forms handy. So, back to my original question: Does anybody already have those forms written up and willing to share them? Perhaps for a price?

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Here is what I tell people who want me to build something for them. This was in response to a friend who saw pictures of the Swamp Ash I bought from Jim Soloway and wants to pay me $150 for a Strat body.

"The offer was more than fair - a pretty good ROI if you ask me - and certainly more than I would take. You know, cutting out and shaping a body is one of my favorite parts of building .......hmmmmm."

Would you want all the routing - neck & pups too? Would you do the finishing? Hardtail or trem? Send me some details and I'll ponder it some more.

Here are my rules for building:

I don't do deadlines.

I don't make money off friends - if we get this together, I'll do it, send it to you and you can pay for parts and tell me what you think it is worth.

I am an amateur - I screw things up - many that won't ever be noticed, some that will. If I screw it up too bad, I'll start over or call the whole thing off.

I really want to build *what* I want to build *when* I want to build it. If someone else likes it and wants to give me money, thats cool. if not, I'll keep it or give it away. Other peoples' money and expectations add an element of pressure that I don't need in my life.

I really respect the guys who can work to other peoples' specs and make them happy - to me that's the big jump into being a professional builder. I have neither the skills nor interest for that jump. I worked too long to have my retirement the way I want it, and deadlines and keeping customers happy isn't a part of it.

Don't get me wrong, it is a great feeling when someone likes my work, but I don't want to depend on that or necessarily use it a a measure of my improvement.

What was the topic again? Sorry for the derailment.

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Amen to that brother. I too would much rather build the guitars that I want to build. But of course I have mouths to feed and customers are my bread and butter. As much as is possible I won't send a potential client away, but I am always up front about my abilites and limitations.

I told a guy recently that I can do anything under the sun, but that it just might take awhile. Which is an understatement.

I'm sure I will write my own "legal forms" if there's none already available, for free or otherwise. Just thought I should mention that. Perhaps others might be willing to help out and we could all have something to show for it?

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I told a guy recently that I can do anything under the sun, but that it just might take awhile.

I sure hope you make it clear up front when it's something you've never done before. I hope the "mouths to feed" doesn't inspire you to do otherwise.

It's a little odd to me that you have that much confidence about repairs, even though you don't have a lot of experience with all types of repairs, but at the same time you are in a line of work that deals with making or distributing actual "work order forms", but you're full of doubt how to use such forms for your own business.

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SoapbarStrat, I think you may have misunderstood me. I am in the print industry. I don't make or distribute any kind of form, I just see a lot of them because I'm printing them. And I don't think I said anything to imply that I am "full of doubt" on how to use them. Convincing someone that they need to sign a form before work can commence is a pretty straightforward concept that is obviously very common. What I'm looking for is the verbage. I'm trying to find someone who has already consulted a lawyer or taken business classes and who has then taken the time to write out a contract that has all of the necessary elements to provide some amount of protection in the event of a legal dispute.

As I said, I can and will write one myself if I have to. It would save me time though if I didn't have to.

And yes, I am always up front when it comes to something I've never done before. Honesty is an absolute in all aspects of my life. I thought I made that clear.

Edited by stereordinary
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Covering your butt with legal forms has nothing to do with doubting your work.

It's about people trying to come back later after their own negligence or carelessness and claim your work was inferior.

It happened to me a few times. I did contract work for 18 years in the IT profession. It was the contract that gave my work legitimacy and spelled out specifically what my obligations were and where they ended. I never doubt my work. I doubt the integrity of some of my customers though. Sorry to say.

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Maybe not exactly what you want, but if you scroll down on the linked page, there's some "forms" :

http://www.danerlewine.com/guitar_repair_forms.html

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  • 3 months later...

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