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A reader writes: "We have a customer that is complaining about performance and accusing us of not having enough staff to do the job correctly. If it is a performance contract, the staffing should not matter. Do you agree?"

The key word in your question is "correctly". Based on a very brief review of the contract specs, it is clear that there are certain outcomes expected in the agreement. Examples are 1) restrooms cleaned, stocked and no odor 2) tops of partitions, ledges, etc. free of dust at all times, 3) clean, dust free baseboards, 4) carpet spotted on a regular basis, 5) clean front door glass and other requirements.

Upon our inspection, ALL of these points were deficient, and this was within an hour of when work was supposed have been performed. And yes, the supervisor reported that she was short two workers and had to spread the work among those who did show up while covering some of the tasks herself. She admitted that "some areas" may have been overlooked due to the short crew but promised to get caught up when she could. This type service has been going on for at least two months, so it is not a short term issue anymore.

Please understand that the term "performance-based cleaning" does not excuse short staffing, which may result in unsatisfactory outcomes. In my experience, performance-based cleaning puts more pressure on the contractor (you) to achieve the prescribed standards regardless of staffing. In other words, it focuses on results rather than a head count. The customer probably would not ever have started looking at staffing if the work and results had not started slipping to the point that they were receiving serious, repeat complaints from tenants.

In my opinion, the customer has a case in requiring that you have a full crew each night, even though we all know that full staffing is still not a guarantee of satisfactory outcomes.

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