A reader asks: "Our onsite supervisor has failed to abide by the contract specifications and the customer now expects us to continue this practice without due compensation. Any ideas of how we can satisfy them and keep the contract?"

This is what I refer to as "contract creep" and it has happened to many of us in the industry. Based on the information you provided the facility has changed in square footage, number of buildings, type of flooring, number of rest room fixtures, construction cleaning, number of shifts and totally employee population. Of course, this did not happen at overnight but over time with the onsite supervisor working feverishly to keep the onsite manager happy. We also should note that the onsite supervisor did not have access to the contract and really was ill prepared to deal with the customer from a position of facts.

It has been years since you updated the contract specifications as to square footage and tasks. Since this facility requires servicing more than one shift per day and even requires porter service on weekends, the numbers can get quite confusing. As we read the original specifications it was obvious that many informal, casual changes have been made to accommodate a "minor" change that accumulatively has resulted in a muddled contract that cannot be fulfilled without either some major changes to avoid losing money.

Your well intentioned onsite supervisor has not been able to increase staffing; hence he/she keeps moving staff to different priorities as the customer dictates. They do not seem to have any idea of how many square feet they are actually maintaining on a daily basis.

In the next few articles we will address this situation and develop some ideas for getting back on track.

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.