A reader writes: “Our customer just informed us that we are not allowed to use backpack vacuum cleaners because, according to her, they do not work. But we bid the contract on using backpacks. Any suggestions on how to deal with this would be appreciated.”

Based upon a quick review of the specifications and the contract that you signed, it looks like the client did specify that only upright vacuum cleaners are to be used. Although they do not give a reason, the customer’s response was that “backpack vacuum cleaners do not work as well as uprights because they do not have a beater bar to pull up the dirt.”

You may need to be prepared for a few other surprises in that they also require you to “strip and wax” ceramic tiled rest room floors monthly, “steam clean” (Hot Water Extraction) all carpet quarterly and clean windows inside and out monthly.

Although there are other requirements that do not make sense, these were some of the most obvious that you may have missed when you signed the agreement. Also note that they can terminate your services “for cause” with no notice once they document that you are not in full compliance with the contract specifications.

Upon reviewing your pricing model, you simply do not have the hours our resources to fulfill any of these requirements and still break even. Your options are:
1) seek to renegotiate new specifications and pricing
2) give them the mandated 30 days’ notice
3) let them terminate you for cause.

Of course, I suggest you work hard towards option number 1 and this time, read the specifications closely before you sign. Remember that the only thing worse than not getting a contract is getting it for the wrong price.

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