What to do if no one will sign-on-the-dotted-line?


The SFS class I just finished was truly wonderful! I will be referring to my SFS manuals often in the future. (You’ll be happy to know I did not put them on the shelf in my office.  They are actually at the foot of my desk!)

My boss will be sorry he ever sent me to SFS.  In fact, just this morning I told him he had created a monster!  I have promised him that I would be making some proposals for future growth and I expect him to be “accountable”.

We are, however, enormously under the gun at the moment.  We received 14 new water damages while I was gone at SFS and all our workers plus both owners are all in overtime as of yesterday.  (Yes I know we should have already had someone in mind for a new hire.  You are of course right, and we in fact had spoken about it the week that I left. We had just moved into a new building and so it was put on hold.  Live and learn!)

One question I have, Steve, if you could indulge me.  We do have consistent problems getting a work order signed by our property managers for water damage at apartment complexes.  Many times there are no on-site managers or they are not available or are unwilling to sign.  (And as you know water losses always come in at the worst time- such as 3 AM!)

Of course people LOVE us until they get the bill and/or the insurance company refuses to pay.  Then we become the lowest type of pond scum!  And with nothing signed we are in a very difficult position.

So I am thinking that I may need to re-do our standard Work Authorization form to something that is geared more for property managers. How did you handle this “no-one-on-site-to-sign/accept-responsibility” issue at your company?

Perplexed in San Diego

Good question, Perplexed.  And of course you know I’m no lawyer.  (Thank goodness!)

But here’s one idea.  Since most everyone has email enabled cell phones when a Property Manager gives you a verbal go-ahead tell them you’ll email them an authorization and they need to return it to you immediately with their contact info typed in. Then just say, “I’ll get my crew on the way immediately and as soon as I have your return email we’ll get started.” 

NOTE:  Be sure to run this by your attorney for the exact wording you’ll need to include.

Or could you just say, “I’ll need you to text me a brief message saying that ‘I am requesting (name of your company) to perform emergency water damage services at (include address).  I understand I am responsible for all non-covered charges” or something like this. (Or even better send them a pre-prepared template where they can fill in the data and text or email it back to you.)

Check with an attorney, Perplexed, and see if this sort of thing would be admissible evidence of a binding contract in California. If so, the key is to be kind but firm and just present your request for a texted/emailed authorization as routine.  Let me know what happens.


PS  Congratulations on seeing the very real danger of “letting the customer’s problem become your problem”!  Your job is to develop a simple, fast and easy LEGAL way for the Property Manager to accept responsibility.  If they still won’t “sign on the dotted line” leave them swimming for their life!

NOTE:  Let’s hear from some of our SFS members on how they handle this problem. Just comment below so we can benefit from our “shared wisdom”.  My favorite saying here on SFS.JonDon.com is, “We are all in this together!”

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