Clarifying Customer Expectations
I oftentimes get in the middle of discussions/negotiations/arguments regarding what the specifications call for and what the customer expects. I have counseled many times to eager BSC’s (Building Service Contractors) to take the time to read the specifications very closely more than once using a red pencil. Along the edges put a “D” for every deliverable that is listed, regardless of whether it seems important or not at the time. Along with the “D” write in a $____ to be filled out once a real dollar amount is calculated. This “$” amount should capture all labor, certifications, training, equipment, tools and supplies necessary to fulfill the requirement.
Once every “D” and “$” has been notated, sit down with the prospective customer and ask them to “clarify” what their intention is regarding the requirement. If they state that it is not important and not necessary in the contract, ask them to scratch through the specification and initial and date it.
Some of you may think I am being extreme but as the old proverbs says: “The devil is in the details.” Although I do not want to bore you with too many horror stories, one that comes to mind is an environmental requirement in a new LEED type building that the BSC was to collect all fluorescent light bulbs and dispose of them as per EPA guidelines. This requirement entailed a “certified” worker who could safely collect and crush the bulbs in a special machine that did not allow any gases to escape. The crushed glass and other parts had to be collected and disposed of at a designated land fill that charged a fee. The gases and chemicals such as mercury had to be disposed of at another site for another fee. There had to be complete written documentation of the collection and disposal trail so that if there was a complaint or EPA audit the customer and the BSC were not fined for every violation.
When we submitted total cost of this one sentence requirement to the prospective customer they scratched and initialed the line taking it out of the specifications. One of their maintenance people collected the bulbs and dumped them into the solid waste compactor. I have not heard if EPA ever conducted an audit but at least the BSC was off the hook, in writing.
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