PDA

View Full Version : New guy with big question


GMLAWNCAREPLUS.com
04-03-2006, 12:30 PM
Hi my name is Chris and we started G&M Lawn care Plus at the beginning of this mowing season. I have worked for a business for over 5 years (I wont mention the name). While I was working for him, I talked with a lot of his customers that were unhappy with his ethics. When I told them that I was starting my own business, they told me they'd be happy to go with our company. When i actually started the business I went back to these individuals and offered them my services along with handing out flyers around theirs and other neighborhoods. When my previous employer discovered this, his lawyers sent a letter stated a lawsuit for stealing his customers. Did I break any laws in soliciting his past customers as well as their neighborhoods? Thank you for your help and expertise.


Chris B.

Dweezil
04-03-2006, 12:38 PM
As long as you diden't sign anything saying you wouldent' compete with him, you should be fine. I'd check with a lawer in your area about it just to be sure though. Anyone can send a cease and desist letter about anything, unless they come from a judge, they don't mean anything.

Dunn's
04-03-2006, 12:41 PM
It all depends did he have you sign something that staed employees could not seek business with the customers for x amount of years,or did his contracts say that customers could not seek the work of his employee's for x amount after being serviced by him. check it out to see if your covered if not uh oh!

sheshovel
04-03-2006, 12:46 PM
Question..why were you talking to his ccustomers about his ethics while you were employed by him,and offering your services?This is concidered stealing a mans customers in my book..but unless you sighned a no-compete statement there is nothing he can do about it.I think it is unethical and underhanded.Had you simply offered your services when not in his employ that would be different.

6'7 330
04-03-2006, 12:55 PM
If you at no time signed a non-compete clause while in his employ, I think he is trying a bluff.

Runner
04-03-2006, 01:03 PM
If you ever end up having to speak with the lawyer, you just tell him the you blanketed the area with flyers. That is a big key. That is much different than targeting his customers. If the customers are called out on the red carpet about if you had "previous discussions" with them - regarding "ethics" or any other aspect, they can simply tell the attorney that they were unhappy with the service and were going to make the switch anyway. It just happened to be YOUR flyer that you went with. No compete contracts exist and exist for a good reason. However, there ARE some cases when one is not necessary and another company can STILL be halted from taking existing customers. As far as talking about "ethics", THAT is where you might have crossed some lines. If customers were complaining to you about something and yo were listening, that is one thing, but if YOU were the one doing the talking, since "ethics" can be a loose term, and people can have different ideas of the term, you COULD be walking on a thin line of slander. With lost accounts on his part - as well as a damaged reputation, you COULD be looking at serious civil litigation.

topsites
04-03-2006, 01:09 PM
Whether you broke any laws or not is irrelevant because I feel like your past employer does that what you did is wrong. Thus, whether there exists a law against it or not, I might advise not fiddling with his customers in order to keep yourself out of a legal fight, that is, of course, unless you welcome the challenge.

GMLAWNCAREPLUS.com
04-03-2006, 01:16 PM
Question..why were you talking to his ccustomers about his ethics while you were employed by him,and offering your services?This is concidered stealing a mans customers in my book..but unless you sighned a no-compete statement there is nothing he can do about it.I think it is unethical and underhanded.Had you simply offered your services when not in his employ that would be different.


I understand what you are saying. But I didn't approach the customer about the "ethics" of my previous employer. The customers approached me complaining about my previous employers "ethics". I never said that they should sign up with my company in the future. I simply mentioned that I was starting my own company next season. They then told me to contact them when I do start my own company. I never slandered or even offered my services at the time of employment. Thanks everyone for your "input". It is greatly appreciated.


Chris B.

mow2nd
04-03-2006, 09:10 PM
That's just wrong.......If I was your former employeer I'd whip your A55!!!

Badgerz
04-03-2006, 09:24 PM
I disagree. Go get any customers you want. Obviously if the old customers are not happy with your former employer the'll end up going elsewhere anyway. Might as well come to you. The bottom line is that he wasn't wise enough to have you sign a no compete agreement. That's his own fault. You can choose to be the nice guy and leave his customers alone or you can choose to be the better business man and offer better services. You can make it personal or you can make it business. Up to you.

Full throttle lawn care
04-03-2006, 09:30 PM
Just be glad you recieved a letter and not a couple broken legs. :hammerhead:

stroker51
04-03-2006, 10:49 PM
If they are unhappy with his service, they will find someone else. The fact that you can provide a better service and they went with you is just the way the cards fell it sounds to me. I have never heard of this being a legal issue unless you signed a no-compete, i dont think you can be legally held accountable. I personally would never even put a flyer on my former employers accounts, and there are even a few friendly competitors that I feel that way about, but that is just me and the respect that I hold for those guys as well. If you provide a better service, and he wasnt smart enough to have you sign anything, go for it.

Evergreenpros
04-03-2006, 10:54 PM
Hi my name is Chris and we started G&M Lawn care Plus at the beginning of this mowing season. I have worked for a business for over 5 years (I wont mention the name). While I was working for him, I talked with a lot of his customers that were unhappy with his ethics. When I told them that I was starting my own business, they told me they'd be happy to go with our company. When i actually started the business I went back to these individuals and offered them my services along with handing out flyers around theirs and other neighborhoods. When my previous employer discovered this, his lawyers sent a letter stated a lawsuit for stealing his customers. Did I break any laws in soliciting his past customers as well as their neighborhoods? Thank you for your help and expertise.


Chris B.

Other than being unethical, and if there is not a "no compete" clause, then you probably didn't. However, if you cannot find your own customers you would be better off working for somebody else because you will fail at business.

Here's the deal on lawsuits. If he pushes the lawsuit and wants to spend the money, guess what? You will HAVE TO SPEND THE MONEY TOO in order to respond or he will win a default judgement. Brace for at LEAST $10,000 retainer with the actual number being 2-5x that when it's all said and done.

Here's a good rule: Find your own customers. Like I said before, if you can't find your own customers you will fail at business, period.

Evergreenpros
04-03-2006, 10:58 PM
Whether you broke any laws or not is irrelevant because I feel like your past employer does that what you did is wrong. Thus, whether there exists a law against it or not, I might advise not fiddling with his customers in order to keep yourself out of a legal fight, that is, of course, unless you welcome the challenge.

Also you have to remember that if you slandered his company's reputation or his reputation it's grounds for a lawsuit.

Bust out the checkbook and get ready to write a bunch of zeros for a few years. 20-50k at least. Gotta love our legal system, should have been a lawyer!! :laugh:

dcondon
04-03-2006, 10:59 PM
If you ever end up having to speak with the lawyer, you just tell him the you blanketed the area with flyers. That is a big key. That is much different than targeting his customers. If the customers are called out on the red carpet about if you had "previous discussions" with them - regarding "ethics" or any other aspect, they can simply tell the attorney that they were unhappy with the service and were going to make the switch anyway. It just happened to be YOUR flyer that you went with. No compete contracts exist and exist for a good reason. However, there ARE some cases when one is not necessary and another company can STILL be halted from taking existing customers. As far as talking about "ethics", THAT is where you might have crossed some lines. If customers were complaining to you about something and yo were listening, that is one thing, but if YOU were the one doing the talking, since "ethics" can be a loose term, and people can have different ideas of the term, you COULD be walking on a thin line of slander. With lost accounts on his part - as well as a damaged reputation, you COULD be looking at serious civil litigation.

well said Runner:cool2:

Blade-o-grass
04-03-2006, 11:13 PM
I did something like that back in 1990...I got some inside advice on how to bid on a mowing contract that my former employer had. While he took me out to do some accounts he was telling me how he started and we passed by one of the 15 convenient stores that he had and said that they want them to pick up the trash when they mow.....and boss man told me that he would never do that.....WELL I WOULD I thought....

To make a long story short...I ventured out on my own and a friend persuaded me to bid on that account....It felt bad, really bad, just thinking about it but I was convinced by this "friend" that it was nothing but business and I got the account. When Ex-boss found out I felt like crap, didn't even want the account anymore....My point is it may not be legally wrong but it is ethically wrong....which was what your boss was accused of.

If you are going out on your own....cut ship and run....don't play on both sides of the fence.

Xterminator
04-03-2006, 11:23 PM
Do not steal customers from ex employers unless you are called by the customers. If I employed you and you stole my customers I would still take you to court and win if I could prove you took any of my customers without a non compete clause. If you know my prices. I speak from experience

Young Bros
01-17-2008, 03:10 AM
I worked for a big company for years, then worked for a couple small companies all in the same area. the company i worked for last year didnt have a non-compete contract. my brother and i were not happy with pay or the business practices of our boss. we finally started our own company. now my last boss had his lawyer send a letter stating:
"your former empoyer came to see me. apparently, you are using his proprietary customer list to set up your own spraying business. your former employer feels this is improper, as those are his customers. if you continue, he will file a lawsuit to prevent you from using his customer list."
most of his customers were with the big company that we used to work for. we told a few customers last year that we might start our own company, and they said come talk in the winter. so we have been selling to his customers & customers from the first company that we worked years for. this spring we will blanket sell to everyone when we can see the lawns. is this a bluff letter i got too? what happened with you gmlawncareplus?

NC Greenscaper
01-17-2008, 08:44 AM
Question..why were you talking to his ccustomers about his ethics while you were employed by him,and offering your services?This is concidered stealing a mans customers in my book..but unless you sighned a no-compete statement there is nothing he can do about it.I think it is unethical and underhanded.Had you simply offered your services when not in his employ that would be different.

I agree. I hope my employees are not talking about my ethics (unless good, of course) with my customers while he is cashing the paychecks I sign. I also believe that if you start a business based on questionable ethics yourself you are soon to doom.

PatriotLandscape
01-17-2008, 08:55 AM
Forget about a lawyer I'd be at your house. Find your own customers just like he did. You are stealing money from his family.

If you wouldn't mind hiring a guy and having him do the same your crazy.

We'd be fist fighting over this. Unhappy customers or not.

echeandia
01-17-2008, 10:49 AM
You shouldn't have been soliciting business for your own company while you were employed by the other firm. My guess is that he can get back what he paid you while you were stealing his customers. I wouldn't want you working for me.