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Moral compass? Advise/Input Welcomed

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by Jack Bauer, Nov 4, 2009.

  1. Jack Bauer

    Jack Bauer LawnSite Member
    Posts: 2

    I work for a landscape company who added a fertilizing division last year. Prior to coming here to manage this division, I was a ditch-digger for one of the big franchises for many years humping out $1000 - $1100+ in production (residentials) everyday. I'm planning on approaching 400 of my previous customers to try to get them to leave the dark side...

    I liked those guys (previous employer) and I liked working for them and feel only slightly guilty over trying to steal their customers. Is it "just business" and how aggressive should I get?

    I've driven around retrieving addresses and used the internet to get names and phone numbers. I've written a nice letter on why I'm better (hands down better fert., customer service, I actually have conscience, etc). I'm planning on just knocking on the door and chatting (maybe mix in a Saturday as well).

    I guess I'm asking if y'all think if it's acceptable to do this and if so, what other sales techniques or ideas to easier bring them over. Much appreciated.
  2. cmhendricks

    cmhendricks LawnSite Member
    Posts: 2

    If you are really providing better fertilizer and service, I say go for it. Just make sure you are really providing those benefits, so you do not have to worry about losing the customer after a year. Good Luck!
  3. mdlwn1

    mdlwn1 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,443

    All is fair in love and war.

    Having said that. Your plan will likely fail. You will soon be amazed at how many of those customers you WONT get. Stealing customers as your only business plan is short sided at best and only successful when done by an expert in business. The upside is that you may get 5-10% of the customers. The downside is almost limitless. The damage you can do to your rep and all of your biz relationships isnt worth it. Stealing customers is a maneuver...a short term tactic or strategy basically an act of desperation when nothing else has worked. While I applaud you for posting here, your in deep do-do if you dont come up with a solid method for doing business.
  4. MarcSmith

    MarcSmith LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,157

    If you are here on a website asking for us to be your moral compass, then I think you already know the answer....

    You are using your company acquired knowledge of the customers and their locations to solicit work for the new company.....
  5. LouisianaLawnboy

    LouisianaLawnboy LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,199

    Your going to tell your customers you have a conscience, while trying to steal them from your former boss who trusted you.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  6. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,496

    First of all,...if you worked for one of the franchises or big green companies, you better back up, check, and make sure there wasn't a no-compete agreement somewhere in your application of employment. These are there for a purpose, and have been used by these companies for many many years. I know someone first hand who did just what you did. After alot of work, time, and effort establishing a customer base, guess what....they put him out of business. Now,...this case was a little bit different. What this was, was a guy that worked for a big green company, and went to work for someone else (the guy I know). He went knocking on doors to all his old customers from the big company. It wasnt unil about a year or two later that he heard from attorneys from the big company.
  7. Jack Bauer

    Jack Bauer LawnSite Member
    Posts: 2

    I realize the irony of my "conscience" comment...perhaps a little more background, as an example. Their program is six steps. The first one out of the gate, crappy fertilizer with no crabgrass control; obviously not all their customers take this application, but the ones who do then have their next app (crabgrass) pushed back. Many don't get the crabgrass control until the end of May or even the beginning of June. Their reward for being a full six-step customer is to have preemerge in June?

    Another example: their "winterizer" application is non-slow-release super high nitrogen done mid-October thru mid-November. In fact, they don't use any slow-release fertilizers. Why? They have THOUSANDS of customers and using cheap fertilizers save so much money; who suffers? The customer. They are in it to make money, period, and will do anything to increase the bottom line. With these bigger companies it is always only about the numbers: get it done, get it billed at whatever the cost. Raining? Leaf-covered? Customer needs to mow? Irrelevant.

    My "having a conscience" speaks to always doing the right thing for the customer. Which is why I posted the question in the first place: if I can use a better product applied at the correct rate at the correct time for the same or less money, is it not in the best interest of the client?
  8. MarcSmith

    MarcSmith LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,157

    But doing the right thing in general IE not screwing over a former employer, Is also part of having a conscience...And as others have mentioned, may be against any non-compete clauses you may have signed...

    "stealing" customers from the competition happens every day, and there is no thing wrong with it. What you are doing is using information entrusted to you in good faith while you were an employee to assist in growing the customer base of a new employer. Kinda like a guy from pepsi giving coke pepsi's recipe...

    You are trying to justify using your confidential information by saying you are doing whats best for the customer. While this happens the ex employer is being "hurt"...
  9. TurfRyder

    TurfRyder LawnSite Member
    Posts: 74

    We live in a capitalist society and if you offer a better service at competitive prices that's all that should matter. Having a master list of potential customers might give you a leg up but in the end its going to be the customer's decision and loyalty is hard to come by these days. Most want to spend less and get more in return. If you can offer them that than I say go for it!
  10. KES

    KES LawnSite Member
    Posts: 95

    It does not matter what the other company did or does. People will remember you from what you do or say. I agree with everybody else on here do not bet that you will get any customers from your old company. If that is your marketing plan you might want to rethink it.

    Would you want someone to do it to you? What if you had a guy who worked for you and left and went door to door with your customer list?

    Also, you never know when you might have to call them to see if they will hire you back.

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