Request for proposal (otherwise known as RFP’s) are increasingly a part of our sales cycle. A new trend in them is to declare a penalty for missing a service level agreement (or SLA). The most recent one we have responded to asks a novel question. They ask us to declare the penalty: “If service level expectations and/or KPIs are not met, what do you recommend as a penalty?”
Penalties create a transactional mechanism for mistakes. I don’t like that. Great for corporate procurement and bad for the end user. Someone who is waiting around for a pest guy to show up doesn’t care about the penalty, they care about the response. I get a little grumpy about penalty. It does not leave room for grace. Grace on our part if the customer is mistaken, (there is no two way penalty) and grace for the customer if there are extenuating circumstances.
So here is how we worded the answer: “Penalty describes a one way relationship. In our extensive experience in the food processing and production industry, partnerships for a pest free and audit ready environments are the most effective way to eliminate risk. Our expectation is to partner with you and for you to hold us to extremely high expectations. Measure, evaluate, develop KPI’s. We intend to exceed your expectations. In the unlikely event that we do not meet your expectations, the Sprague team will work with you to rectify the problem or ensure an easy and graceful transition to an alternative service provider.”
Grace in the RFP. Grace if we fail. There is always room for grace.