Here are some real-world situations that have been encountered by some of the integrators MC Group has worked with across the country.
–Integrator A in California heard from a big client that their network was hacked and important data was taken and destroyed. They wanted compensation!
–Integrator B in Florida was being blamed because their client’s new custom $50,000 front door didn’t work with the smart locks they spec’d?
–Integrator C in New York was being held responsible for the costs of delays caused by equipment not showing up on time.
In these cases, are any of the integrators responsible?
Nope! In all these cases the integrators did NOT have to shell out extra expense because they were properly covered by a strong, accurate Terms & Conditions agreement. It’s so important for you to be covered in writing with your clients. MC Group’s experience with Terms & Conditions (T&Cs) comes from its 30+ years of working with hundreds of integrators, large and small. The process of serving these companies has enabled the company to create a “best practices” collection of protective and workflow docs. T&C documents are NOT intended to complicate your life. Quite the opposite. T&Cs are carefully written so they capture and clarify the responsibility details of your projects for you, your clients and for your contractors.
Whether you work on new construction or on renovation projects with a General Contractor (GC) or other subcontractors, you must protect yourself. Proper Terms and Conditions cover your company throughout the lifecycle of the job. Well-done T&Cs ensure that clear responsibilities are set, expectations established, and even clarify fees for all involved. Getting this done upfront is not just good business practice. It’s necessary! Having these topics covered in writing are very often the difference between making or losing money on a project.
Responding to the expansion of our industry and the growth in job values and risk factors for integrators, MC Group has created a program to make these documents available to integrators.
The MC Group T&C covers:
Section 1 General Contract Provisions – Change Orders, Project Management, Acts of God, Notifications, Fees, Site prep such as Conduit/Trenching, Warrantees, Loaners, Special Orders…
Section 2 Jobsite Requirements – Delays, Scheduling, Fees
Section 3 Network Administration – Network Latency, Third Party Equipment, Diagnosis Fees, Liability, Data Security, House eMail Accounts
Section 4 All System Notes – What You Provide, What’s Provided by Others (example – for Access Control, you do not mortise doors, or concrete posts) Security, Surveillance, Access, Network, Lighting, Shade, Pool/Spa, AV, Control and Head End.
Section 5 Essential Completion – Definitions, Break-In Period, Performance Plans
The full Master Set of T&Cs from MC Group comprises 12 pages of carefully worded requirements and limitations.
Remember Integrator A at the beginning of this story? Here’s what he had to say about the T&Cs from MC Group:
“The Master T&C Contract is comprehensive and well-though out. I especially like that I can choose to use as much or as little of it as I need to cover the scope of the project. It’s in Word so it’s easy for me to make whatever changes I want,”
Integrator B was thrilled that his signed agreement meant that he didn’t need to cover the $50K cost of the client’s custom-built door.
And Integrator C was relieved to not have to cover extra costs caused by gear not showing up on time.
The point is these days you need to be especially careful about defining a job’s many responsibilities ahead of time.
MC Group has additional thoroughly vetted docs that protect and clarify. The Completion Form is a sign-off form to be used at the essential completion of a project. This protects the integrator and the client — with the customer agreeing in writing that the original project scope is done and anything after that point is either billed at your normal rates (as specified in the form), or they need to go on an RMR Support/Maintenance plan.
One of the most important documents they’ve created is the MC Group Responsibility Chart. This chart clearly defines who supplies what on a jobsite. It includes columns for the General Contractor, Electrician, Customer, and you (the Low Voltage expert).
The columns define who supplies, installs, and approves each item. A more subtle benefit of the Responsibility Chart is that it provides a great example of your organizational skills and professionalism to your GCs and to your customers. Once the job is signed, you have a tangible, visual chart that you can hand out to the trades on the job, clarifying what is expected of them.
MC Group has also found it extremely valuable to have a Project Payment Contract. Now available, this is a 2-page Low-Voltage Project Contract focuses on specifying payments, liabilities, and defaults that the integrator and the customer sign to make the system proposal a legally binding agreement. It too is supplied as a Word doc so it can be easily edited.
With these tools it’s easier to be smarter with your contracts and agreements. When you make the right moves ahead of time, you literally ensure that you, your team and your business are protected. The old saying was never more apropos than it is for integrators today: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.