A reader writes: “Since our last discussion, the customer has demanded that we apply multiple coats of wax/finish to all the floors in the building. This is going to put us way over budget when we have to strip these floors. Any suggestions?”

The customer's behavior is difficult to understand if the assumption is everyone is being honest and up front in this discussion. Based on the continuing insistence that the various floor types (synthetic, vinyl composite tile and ceramic), I suggest you give serious consideration to having a face to face meeting with this person and their direct report. Although this is dangerous you need to clear the air in front of this person’s supervisor by giving the history of the contract, industry standards and your concerns that it is going to impact their bottom line if any damage is done to the floors in question. My suggestion is to clean a test area down to the bare floor in each area (5’x5’ or four VCT squares should do) taking before and after pictures. Then ask the customer to inspect them. Whatever happens, you need to clearly document their reaction and instructions.

In one area that you are failing is that when this person gives you a verbal directive you are still not responding to them in email format noting what they said, when and your response. From this point forward you need to respond when they demand that you continue to apply multiple coats of finish over a dirty floor: “Although I am taking your direction under advisement, I respectfully decline until we can have a face to face meeting with the owner or your direct report so that we can determine accountability and any additional charges that may have to be invoiced when these multiple coats have to be removed. I am willing to discuss this matter at your convenience.”

You want to find a defensible, moral high ground based on a third party expect (an independent distributor in your area) and published industry standards.

Your comments and questions are important. 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