Having a contract between you and your “employees” is as important as having a contract between you and your clients. It doesn’t have to be some long winded document, but must include these 3 main points: delivery dates, payment terms and source files.
Delivery Dates: We’re all painfully aware that design and development is not a perfect science. Glitches and bugs happen. You know this and your developer(s) know this. The developer more so. So when they give you an ETD, based on the direction and assets you have provided, they need to deliver on time. If they are going to be late, they need to tell you as far in advance as possible. The night before is not acceptable. Unfortunately, there is little you can do at that time but once the project has been completed, that’s when you can have a little sit down with your guy.
Payment Terms: Assuming your running a small business, you might not have dozens of dollars to front a project. That said, you have to wait for the client to pay before you can pay your developer. The down payment part is fine, nobody starts until people are paid. Simple. But it’s the final payment that can be tricky. Once the site is up and running, it’s considered complete, therefore payment is due. That’s great, but it’s unrealistic to think you will be paid the very next day. If you’re dealing with a larger client, there’s the process of invoicing, accounts, mailrooms etc. It might take up to 2-3 weeks. It’s certainly not ideal, but you’re in it to keep your clients happy, you can’t hound for payment, unless they’re well overdue. Your developer needs to understand this. When you get paid, they get paid. They will hit you with their problems, or financial woes, tell you they worked hard and want their money…but there’s little you can do and they need to accept that going into the job. Their personal issues have nothing to do with you.
Source Files: Once a project is done, make sure your developer sends you all working files.
Most importantly, never become complacent. Don’t ever get stuck in with the same designer(s) or developer(s). Always have a few well trusted and reputable worker bees at the ready. Because if things don’t run smoothly with the team you have, and you find yourself pulling out your hair, don’t. There are plenty of responsible and business savvy contractors ready to be put to work.