A reader writes: “I am on the other side of the table in negotiating contracts with vendors. I do not accept a vendor’s challenging my final offer. Your response?”

First of all, I appreciate the fact that the “customer is always right” in that their final number is law. I also realize that there are many customers who have “champagne tastes” and “beer budgets” that can result in an eager contractor failing when they run out of resources within the first few months of a new contract start up that was priced incorrectly.

In negotiating contracts, I work with the vendor to provide defensible numbers (and final price) based on a reasonable interpretation of the specifications as to tasks/frequencies and required outcomes. I also work with customers such as you who struggle with staying within their budgets while satisfying tenants who have been promised a certain level of service for the rent they pay.

Instead of arguing or challenging either party, I simply ask for “clarification” when there is a difference of opinion which happens more often than it should. For example, if the vendor is asking for $2.00 to fulfill the contract and the customer stands firm at $1.00, I simply ask both parties “How did you arrive at this number?” If both parties are open and transparent we can identify information and interpretations that can be impacting the difference. Are both using the same square footage, rest room fixture count, days of service, outcomes, etc? Once these issues are resolved, the price usually gets a lot closer and there can be a win/win outcome.

Please understand that neither party can change wages, benefits and certain required expenses. If the customer is working from a budgeted number that is not reflected in the specifications there needs to be clarification before proceeding.

Your comments and feedback are always appreciated. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean...

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or CTCG50@comcast.net.