When you have a disagreement with a contractor, it’s easy to feel frustrated and overwhelmed. Disputes can cost your company valuable time, money and customer relationships. That’s why it’s important to have strategies in place for resolving disagreements when they arise.

As you attempt to resolve a dispute with your contractor, remember that you don’t always have to jump to expensive court action. Instead, you can try more cost-efficient approaches first.

  1. Conversation

It’s always best to start with a conversation. Stay calm and see if you and the contractor can understand the issue and resolve it on your own. Sometimes, these issues happen because of a simple miscommunication or misunderstanding. Even when you are just talking, always document everything. Write down when and where you had a conversation, and what was said.

This approach will lean heavily on your relationship with the contractor. If you are friendly, it may be easier to approach them. However, if your contractor gets defensive and doesn’t want to find a resolution, you may need to try something else.

  1. Mediation

Mediation is a great next step if you can’t resolve the issue. This approach involves a neutral third party to help facilitate the conversation. While you and the contractor will still be the ones finding a resolution, the mediator will help you understand one another and work towards a solution. It can be beneficial to have someone else involved, but mediation is not legally binding.

  1. Arbitration

The next step after mediation, if both parties agree to participate, is arbitration. Similarly, this involves conversation with a neutral third party, but this time, the arbitrator proposes a solution. If you and your contractor are having a difficult time resolving the issue, arbitration can be helpful. The resulting resolution in arbitration is also legally binding, which can be helpful in resolving future disputes with that contractor. Though the proceedings of arbitration are filed, only the final solution may be public if it needs to be legally enforced.

  1. Litigation

If your disagreement persists, now may be the time for court litigation. Though this path is public, can be costlier and may take longer, sometimes it is necessary. Some issues must be resolved in front of a court and the result gives you the benefit of legal enforcement.

As you work to resolve issues with your contractors, you will need to carefully assess which path will be most beneficial to your situation. Working with a legal professional can help you protect your company and find a resolution that works for you.