New guy with big question

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by GMLAWNCAREPLUS.com, Apr 3, 2006.

  1. GMLAWNCAREPLUS.com

    GMLAWNCAREPLUS.com LawnSite Member
    Posts: 5

    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.
     
  2. Dweezil

    Dweezil LawnSite Member
    Posts: 66

    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.
     
  3. Dunn's

    Dunn's LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,546

    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!
     
  4. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,112

    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.
     
  5. 6'7 330

    6'7 330 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,823

    If you at no time signed a non-compete clause while in his employ, I think he is trying a bluff.
     
  6. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,496

    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.
     
  7. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,654

    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.
     
  8. GMLAWNCAREPLUS.com

    GMLAWNCAREPLUS.com LawnSite Member
    Posts: 5


    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.
     
  9. mow2nd

    mow2nd LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 603

    That's just wrong.......If I was your former employeer I'd whip your A55!!!
     
  10. Badgerz

    Badgerz LawnSite Member
    Posts: 122

    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.
     

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