A reader asks: "We have maintained the outside courtyard of a building for over eight years by simply blowing the debris, emptying a few trash cans and picking up tree limbs. The new project manager is demanding that we pressure wash the concrete pads to remove dirt, oil and mold build up. Do you think this is fair that they have changed their expectations?"

Upon reviewing your specifications for this contract it is apparent that the customer is in the right. He/she is reading the specifications and applying them in a different way than their predecessor. You can look at it two ways: 1) you have been getting away with failing to fulfill the actual specifications (clean surface free of oil, mold, etc.) or 2) you should have clarified the expected outcomes when you started the contract. Either way, you need to work with the customer to satisfy their expectations or run the risk of even more problems.

Too many times we are eager to "close the deal" and fail to clarify what the expectations are in a contract. In this case, the condition of the courtyard has deteriorated over time and actually needs to be pressure washed (test just plain water first before using chemicals) to bring it back up to its original appearance. If you do have to use chemicals (mildew-cide or other products) make sure that you have proper clearance from the building and governing municipality since it will probably run into storm drains. Fines and bad publicity for "polluting" will not help your case.

Since you do not own a pressure washer, it might help to simply have an experienced, qualified tech rent a unit with the correct tips and clean a test area first. We will continue this discussion in a future article.

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.