A reader writes: "I don’t like to tell the customer 'no' so end up providing additional services to keep them happy. How can I get paid for the work I do?"

Many of us have been where you are so it is difficult to be too critical. When just getting started, we tend to go above and beyond since each contract is crucial for our very survival. This can become part of your company culture and really impact your morale as well as bottom line. Of course, some customers seem to be great at reading your situation and taking full advantage of it.

I had a customer that was never "happy" unless I did something extra to justify the price I was charging. Since I did not know the local market, I assumed that a competitor could come in and take it away for the same or lower price while providing the same level of service. One day, I woke up and realized this customer was abusing the relationship. I wrote up a new contract with a very clear list of tasks to be performed for the pay I was getting. I also listed several tasks that were "extra charge" and put a dollar amount by each. I explained to her and she knew the great quality and service I provided and hoped we could find common ground.

She terminated the contract on the spot and acted as if I had greatly offended her. I monitored the contract through a friend who worked in the building and was gratified that no one stayed more than thirty days due to her demands and unwillingness to pay. I promptly replaced the high maintenance contract with three others that seemed to appreciate the quality work and service I provided. I got referrals and never looked back.

The lesson learned was that I studied the market and was clear as to the services provided for the cost quoted.

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.