There are some phrases that should be avoided in any contract that you will sign for custodial services.  One major phrase that is oftentimes slipped in is “as needed”.  This phrase is like the concept of beauty being in the eyes of the beholder.  During negotiations, the BSC can note that certain tasks (servicing a conference room) does not need to be performed every visit since the prospect indicated that it is only used twice per month at most.  In order to be competitive, the inexperienced BSC will price the service for this area at 24 times per year.  Unfortunately, the conference room is used much more often due to various factors in the company and the BSC finds that they are expending a considerable amount of time and resources in an area that either caused margins to go off or divert resources from another area of the site.  No one is really satisfied with this outcome but the customer refers to the wording and reminds the BSC of their commitment in the contract.

A suggested remedy for avoiding this type problem is to clearly state that service will be provided a maximum of 24 (or 30) times per year for this area and that additional service beyond that maximum number will cost $ XXX.00 per time.  An additional burden is placed on the BSC to document how often the area is serviced so that the customer is kept updated on actual use and will not be surprised with an additional billing when the cap is exceeded.

Another term to avoid is “strip/wax” a hard floor X number of times per year for a number of reasons.  First of all, we have not used “wax” in thirty plus years since the term usually refers to the old paste wax process.  The term finish is far more appropriate.  Secondly, with today’s new finishes a floor can oftentimes be maintained simply by scrubbing (shower scrubbing or other terms may be used) that removes a soiled layer of finish without removing all the product to the bare floor.  This has many advantages to stripping as it relates to the environment and protect the floor from too much high pH cleaners.  A better phrase would be “strip/scrub/recoat” which allows the BSC the option of doing what is the best procedure for the floor at that time.  This can result in not only saving labor but materials as well while extending the life of the floor.

Read the contract carefully for such terms as described above and make every effort to either remove or clarify them so that the proposal you submitted is the one you actually perform. 

Your comments and questions are always welcome.  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