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?"

As we have already discussed, contract creep is usually due to poor management on your part in the initial startup as well as the day to day management. I highly recommend you clarify (aka challenge) any requirements that have a dollar sign indicating more labor or supplies. For example, never accept the term "as needed" since the customer can use this phrase to squeeze a lot of additional (note unbudgeted) labor and services out of your company.

A recent example was a customer who required carpet to be "spot cleaned" as needed but did not have any commitment to annual or semi-annual cleaning. The poor company was literally cleaning the carpeted areas one spot at a time which resulted in multiple complaints due to the clean spots making the rest of the carpet look dirty. To satisfy the customer, the BSC provided a free carpet cleaning to restore the appearance and start all over.

My suggestion to them was that they calculate the labor designated for carpet spotting and delete it from the invoice with the statement that from this point forward, the customer could request carpet spotting at a set $/spot or per square foot. It is impossible to keep the carpet looking clean if it is not be periodically serviced as per industry standards. The other option I suggested was for the BSC to negotiate carpet cleaning (as per industry standards) into the contract and continue with carpet spotting on a defined schedule.

Note that you should always differentiate between carpet spotting and cleaning up a spill. More on that later.

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.