A client asked me for guidance on how to get a contentious change order signed. The stakes were high- the change order represented nearly 3% of the company forecasted revenues for the year.
Most of the related services were already completed. My client was prepared for hard bargaining, a legal letter if need be- whatever it took.
I helped them get the change order agreed and signed in less than 2 weeks at nearly full price. How?
I advised them to:
Get to the decision maker right away.
Never let more than 3 business days pass without a follow-up.
Be flexible with the past.
Point #2 is far and away the most important. It takes discipline, not hard bargaining, drawing lines in the sand, or complaint letters, to resolve these difficult situations quickly. If you’ve clearly shown what the amendment includes, and you’re in touch with the person who can approve it, then you simply have to keep it front and center for resolution and be flexible on the terms the counterparty may require to approve and sign.
What does it mean to be flexible? Examples:
For work already completed, you may have to discount a portion- it was your mistake to do the work before it was signed off in the first place, so don’t expect to get 100% of it paid after the fact.
Overdue change orders often have significant amounts to bill once signature- be flexible if this needs to be spread out a bit.
As we approach year end, review your list of amendments most critical to get signed and use these principles to get them over the finish line without aggravating your clients with needlessly rough tactics.