A reader writes: “You advised me to be honest with the customer so I gave them an email blast listing my position and concerns. I lost the contract the following month for non-performance. What did I do wrong?”

First of all, I always encourage transparency and honesty with a customer; however, attacking their character and insulting them as you did in your email blast did not open any doors or enhance your position with them. Venting to your customer about the labor market is none of their concern and does not really accomplish much if you hope to keep the contract.

When we toured the site, we noted several discrepancies in your work that the customer had complained about rather strongly with threats of termination. Instead of addressing these short- comings you claimed that it was hard to find workers and that the contract was underpriced for the expectations of the tenants. My response was, “Who on your end, signed the contract and agreed to the terms and conditions?” The answer was that you were eager to get the business and assumed the customer would be understanding if you could not perform as per the specifications. Wrong assumption on your part.

The customer, in turn, seems to go through a lot of building service contractors since they demand perfection from day one in their buildings and do not seem to mind losing a vendor for alleged non-performance. Each new vendor performs some additional task at no charge in hopes gaining leverage. Based on the emails I saw they appear to have decided they could do better but instead of firing you outright they may have set you up to overreact. This has been a lose/lose situation from the start. My suggestion is to learn from this experience and make sure to ask the right questions and clarify issues BEFORE day one of the contract.

Finally, think twice (or more) before sending such a communication the next time. Perhaps a simple face-to-face meeting with a revised game plan could have saved the opportunity or at least bought some time.

As always your comments and suggestions are welcome. 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.