Business relationships are just like all others. They require purpose, trust, defined function, responsibility and commitment. I have never ignored that, even amidst serious challenges and they will come for every entrepreneur.
Most in business understand the need not to get too excited about everyday challenges. After all, no matter what we face someone else is facing the same thing on a much larger and more involved scale. For example, were your sued today? Guess what: Each of the major automakers was likely sued over 1,000 times today. So were some hospital corporations, local governments, law firms, medical practices, individuals and others. The civil courts system exist to work out disputes that occur between individuals and individuals and businesses.
Of course, the fact that these things occur is not a basis for rejoicing – NORMALLY – so we take them seriously but they cannot be allowed to take our eye off the ball of growth and continued improved performance. Maybe the saddest part is entering a business relationship that turns sour, when there is no reason for it to do so.
A good example in my memory is when I assisted a Michigan businessperson to develop an adult day health program several years ago. The work was arduous but my team and I were proud of it. One of the major items we accomplished was negotiating the business lease down from the $7200.00 requested from the property owner to $4500.00. The client was overjoyed. Then we proceeded to put the operation together leading up to the open house. Then one day one negative remark from a true business failure within the adult foster care community in a phone call and this client turned against us. This call came from a gentleman, formerly owner of a twenty, (20) bed home that the state and community mental health came together to shut-down permanently.
Even with this inexplicable behavior, I drove 700 miles to pick-up a special set of chairs we needed for the open house and drove back and put them in place. I then began distancing my company once we learned that the day before we dropped off the chairs she started calling around to other care providers to advise how angry she was that I dropped the ball on her chairs. At the same time she was making these calls, I was headed back to Michigan from Georgia with her chairs in a rented truck I paid for. It was baffling. She could not have been looking at things from the lens of reality. My team and I kept moving with a view to “conquering the evil with the good“, which included taking the lead in her open house.
Recently, we agreed to help a person in private duty home care to prepare for and qualify for accreditation. We have done this at least 25 times. Step I is always the development of an internal system of governance that will position the entity for accreditation. A part of that is policy development that provides a basis for enforcement of certain performance and operational items. This includes ensuring liability coverage is in place, worker’s compensation insurances, a system for managing client confidentiality, monitoring in-home activity and so much more.
So, our first step was a policy blueprint. This begins the collaborative process so we sent the client a preliminary set. The next step is sitting around our table with the red pens out and moving toward what we seek to create. Next thing you know came the most erratic text messages, messages via LinkedIn, etc. accusing us of not helping her to “fulfill her dreams”. I stressed in my response that this was a collaborative, and not a singular or overnight process. Then came the threat I am not paying you anymore until you do what I want but we had no idea what we were not doing. This kind of language forced me to refer to the language of the signed Agreement. All of this was after we scheduled our first collaborative session and guess what, she called and indicated she could not attend.
Soon afterward I traveled south to serve our clients in southern states and then returned to my home base for scheduled surgery and put this client on my schedule for the week of February 26, 2018. As all of this was going on, she began to malign my company and me using LinkedIn. While some of our friends and supporters responded and even sought to reason with her, we issued an official response and left the matter alone. Its just not productive to engage in prolonged dialogue of this type and if anyone gets kicked-off LinkedIn we do not want it to be us. I did also officially ask our clients and supporters to stop engaging this matter. I was reminded of the words of former U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama: “When they go low; we go high.”
The suggestions her on-line supporters gave her included filing a police report. Let’s face it, a police department will tell her its a civil and not a criminal matter and dismiss her. Next would be the issue of a lawsuit. So far her payments are $1250.00 which makes it a Small Claims Court item. We would walk in with the signed agreement and one of the following would occur:
a. We show the judge the Arbitration Clause that exists in all of our agreements and the case is dismissed. Here is that standard clause:
“Provider and Client agree that any dispute, claim, or controversy concerning this Agreement or the termination of this Agreement, or any dispute, claim or controversy arising out of or relating to any interpretation, construction, performance or breach of this Agreement, shall be settled by arbitration to be held in Wayne County, Michigan in accordance with the rules then in effect of the American Arbitration Association and must be filed within ninety, (90) days of the date this agreement is signed. The arbitrator may grant injunctions or other relief in such dispute or controversy. The decision of the arbitrator shall be final, conclusive and binding on the parties to the arbitration. Judgment may be entered on the arbitrator’s decision in any court having jurisdiction. Provider and Client will pay the costs and expenses of such arbitration in such proportions as the arbitrator shall decide, and Provider and Client shall pay its own counsel fees and expenses.”
b. We arrive with the Policies developed, the free edits we made to her website to add professional flare to it and the matter is either dismissed in minutes as we demonstrate our good faith effort to work with this person or we simply win, or,
c. I ask my attorney to file a motion and have it moved to District Court so we can pursue the libel claim against her for the LinkedIn postings.
Guess what, no matter who speaks in support of her LinkedIn bashing campaign, if they have not advised her of these upcoming possibilities, their advice is not going to prove helpful in the end. Their advice only damages her. After all, her prospective and current clients and/or employers will also see the postings and could judge her impulsive, demeaning and run from existing or potential relationships. Let’s also not forget that the more we bash others, the more we leave ourselves open to the same or even more intense examination. How sad for a situation that could be resolved over a 30-minute lunch!
As for me and those with whom I have the privilege of working, we are seasoned pros and we simply want to stay focused. To do that, we work hard to “keep conquering the evil with the good.”
I hope all of us continue to do just that.
Another Blog Post from the minds of Direct Care Training & Resource Center, Inc. and its Chief Executive, Bruce W. McCollum. Join us for a monthly podcast, Direct Care Training & Resource Center on ITunes.
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Note: Direct Care Training & Resource Center, Inc. is a private organization that provides training and assistance to community care providers and prospective providers in matters of continuing education, business development assistance and general information workshops. We are not regulators. We do not seek to replace regulators. We are not competitors of regulators. Neither do we recommend a provider of care or prospective provider of care ignore the advice and direction of regulators. This is not our role. Many of our training workshops are approved as continuing education units for adult foster care group home licensees and administrators, personal care homes, adult family care homes and other assisted living models. As such, many of our trainings do incorporate the review of regulatory statutes, administrative rules and laws that pertain to the provision of care, all of which is readily available to the general public. We are not a governmental entity and our programs must never be viewed as a replacement or substitute for State or federally sponsored orientations, licensing preparatory meetings or any other government sponsored or governmentally mandated educational event or training. Additionally, approval for continuing education courses does not in any way constitute a governmental endorsement of other services provided by our company or any of its affiliates. Furthermore, attendance at any of our live sessions, use of our self-study materials or online/virtual school and any technical assistance we may offer must never be viewed as a guarantee of potential business success, elimination of liability or specific financial gain. It is the responsibility of the individual business owner to work toward and create a pattern of success for his/her business entity. While we make a concerted effort to offer quality advice and teach providers the highest levels of quality customer service, clients must not look to our company to ensure they are successful as community-based care providers. We cannot guarantee how long it will take to attract clients or residents and we will not assure a particular lifestyle from your business efforts. Please note that licensed adult foster care group homes in Michigan who have contracts with community mental health agencies may be obligated to receive all direct care worker and medications training through that agency or the training organization they specify. Check with them before calling our company to enroll in training programs. 6% sales tax charged on all self-study products in the State of Michigan. Information provided in our workshops is up-to-date and accurate to the best of our knowledge and belief. Sample forms used in live training sessions and the online/virtual school may bear the name of certain waiver agents but must in no way be interpreted as an implied endorsement by any agency or governmental department. If a live class paid for is missed, no cash refunds will be made, however a credit will be issued allowing you to attend a comparable event within one year of payment.