A reader writes: “We have a customer whose onsite manager insists on providing direction (and sometimes training) to our staff. This upset our staff and also has led to their not getting their work completed on time which results in complaints the next day. Any ideas on how to diplomatically get this person off our back without losing the contract?”

Unfortunately this challenge is common in the industry and has to be dealt with very carefully. Although we cannot look into a person’s heart and know their motives, it is oftentimes a person who considers themselves to be “hands on” and feels that they know more about cleaning that you or your staff know. Following are some general observations to consider:

1. Do they have a valid point due to your lack of management/supervision? If so, this needs to be remedied immediately.

2. Does the customer need more attention and feedback from you? In other words, how often do you meet with them and what kind of rapport do you have as to trust and communication?

3. Has your worker been trained in responding to subject requests/directions by kindly stating “I really appreciate your suggestion but our company has specified way of performing this task. I need to continue my work but will ask my supervisor to contact you as soon as possible.”

4. Have you advised the prime customer of what is happening and inform them that if there are any accidents or performance issues due to this training/intervention by the onsite customer that you cannot be liable? This one statement has to be handled carefully but can give the owner a reason to pause.

In many contracts, the onsite management is limited or forbidden to provide training or direction. Please read it carefully and if necessary, modify the current agreement to capture that sentiment. 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