How do you collect signatures when you manage your contracts with clients? Do you fax, e-mail, or even send via snail mail? If you are still scanning, faxing or mailing documents in order to obtain signatures, you may be able to save a lot of time by using electronic signatures.
A common worry for those who are not utilizing electronic signatures is that it may not be as good as having a hard copy. The good news is that an electronic signature has been as legally binding as a physical signature since the Federal Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce (E-SIGN) Act was signed in the U.S. in 2000. And similar laws have been passed in every state, as well as in the European Union.
Aside from saving time by eliminating signing, scanning, faxing and mailing, there are many benefits of moving to an electronic signature system. Here are a few:
- Reduce Waiting Time – If you typically wait until you have a signed agreement to commence work, you can be waiting days or even weeks to get started. It’s faster and easier for your clients to make a couple of clicks in order to sign the agreement and give you the go ahead to get started.
- Save Money – Save on costs of paper, ink, and postage. Plus, it’s better for the environment!
- Provide Copies for All Parties – Once the agreement is signed, all parties receive a digital copy, which makes it easier for them to refer to it later and file it on their computer.
- Create an Archive – Many electronic signature services include archiving functionality so you have all of your active documents easily accessible in one place.
- Increase Security – Electronic signatures mean digital encryption, and it’s much harder to fake your identity when signing electronically.
Electronic Signature Services
There are many services that provide electronic signature services for a monthly fee or per-document fee. Some of the top features offered include:
- Customized branding
- Online reporting
- PDF encryption
- Reminder options
- Support of various document types
Here are some services you may want to explore:
Because electronic signatures are so quick and easy to execute, it may be tempting for the signing party not to read the agreement in it’s entirety. Part of your responsibility as the service provider (and one way to avoid any future contract disagreements) is to make sure your client not only signs your agreement, but also understands the terms. Give them time to review and ask any questions they may have before signing off. It’s quicker and easier but that doesn’t mean the content is any less important and shouldn’t be subjected to a contract review process.
How do you get your contracts signed? What are the benefits of the way you do it?
Image credit: Carl Dwyer