Stealing customers?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by goinggreen123, Oct 7, 2012.

  1. Working Man

    Working Man LawnSite Member
    Messages: 90

    Are you serious? #1 rule in business as far as I'm concerned is don't mess with people's money. You made an agreement when you joined his company to keep HIS customers happy for a negotiated salary and you fulfilled that. Congratulations. Now you're leaving because you are unhappy with him. Just because you know how to cut grass doesn't mean you know how to run a business. But let's say you take his customers from him and he loses his business. Do you think he's going to just sit back and accept it? Leave him and his customers alone and go make your own money. I have a friend that just lost his job at a multi-million dollar company that worked exclusively for chrysler because the CEO fired the person that was in charge of the contracts (for not doing his job and having inner-office affairs). The guy went to another company and got the work for them for less money. Around fifty people lost their jobs when those contracts were taken away. All of those people had families and children at home and now have to look for a new job to keep food on the table. The guy that took the contracts is doing great, he got a raise. Everyone else is screwed. You stealing your bosses contracts is just as bad. Just doesn't affect quite as many people. I can't understand why so many people on here would tell you to go for it, 80% of the time when someone quits they make the owner out to be the biggest a$$hole because they have no clue what it's like to be on the other side of the employee/employer relationship. How would you feel if one of your ex employees came on this site and told everyone that you screwed them over and they deserve your customers, and everyone told him go ahead and take the customers with them? I can tell who here owns a business and who owns a job from the posts.
  2. 94gt331

    94gt331 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,718

    well said, i agree
  3. clydebusa

    clydebusa Inactive
    Messages: 1,660

    :clapping: I agree.
  4. alexschultz1

    alexschultz1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,588

    Screw being illegal, I hope the owner of that company beats the piss out of you

    Messages: 1,343

    I have to agree that you have no right to go after his customers.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  6. grasscutter24

    grasscutter24 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 148

  7. txgrassguy

    txgrassguy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,083

    There are two potential legal issues.
    1. Did you sign a non-compete clause as part of your relationship with the previous employer?
    2. When attempting to negotiate new contracts as a self business, to what degree are you going to "pirate" the estimating process from the previous employer?
    Both of these are serious issues that only you can address/answer.
    Regarding the moral/ethical aspect, this all depends on the type of contract each client has with the previous employer. Yearly, per service, quarterly, what?
    As far as "stealing" clients from a previous employer, as a successful business owner myself I view it this way: Provided I am capably caring for the client I am not worried a previous employee will "steal" from my client base.
    On numerous instances clients have directly contacted me after being approached yet did not change due to my providing a level of service the client appreciated/and paid for.
    I will say, and karma has nothing to do with this at all, provided you are able to woo clients away be prepared for their now being "trained" that it is okay to price shop = you may very well be the victim of what you are trying to initiate.
    Business is business, simply persevere in providing good service and if you have the guts to hang in through the growing pains then you might be alright.
  8. ACA L&L

    ACA L&L LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,102

    " Do unto others as you would have others do unto you ...

    In 5, 10, 15 years you too will have someone that leaves your company on bad terms. How are you gonna feel when he snakes half your business that you spent thousands of dollars in Insurance, advertising, fuel etc...getting? If you dont think that its gonna happen to you, think again. Funny how life comes full cirlce at one point or another. Word to the wise, go get your own customers, be proud of what you built, instead of having that tiny voice in your head punching your eyballs at night casting doubt on your abilitys as a business owner. I would feel pretty crappy if I got my customers that way. Good luck.
  9. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,099

    Several things to consider here:

    1) non competes are not enforceable in most states and as such are a waste of paper. Most States have a right to work clause, and as such, if you can prove landscping is your chosen profession, you have a legal right to work in that profession, a non compete violates that right and as such is null and void in "most" states constitutions.

    2) a previous employer "estimating process" can only be considered "intellectual copyrighted material/process" if it is actually copyrighted. So, copying someone else's way of estimating, 1) isnt illegal and 2) how the heck would you prove that?
    In most cases, should the previous employer decide to sue, he's likely got a lot more money than you because he has a running business and he will bully you with lawyer fees which will run you into the ground because you (probably can't afford them).

    In reality, it accomplishes nothing for either side. Both waste money on lawyers. Soliciting clients directly? "hello mr jones? I used to work for lawn express and wanted to know if you would like me to do work for you instead?" That's biting it off a bit much..... but it doesnt mean you can't hang fliers in mr jones's neighborhood.... thats just competition.

    IF you ex employers customers are unhappy with him, they will leave on their own, how do you poise yourself to catch the leaves falling off their tree, before they just use the yellow pages to find someone else?

    think of all the things you 'beleive' are wrong with your former employers business practices, then decide how you will do things different, then market this new fresh way of doing business to the neighborhoods and demographics that you used to work in. IF your funky fresh business model is what these people are looking for, you will get alot of familiar faces as customers, otherwise, maybe it wasnt such a great idea to begin with?
  10. TPendagast

    TPendagast LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,099

    Here's your major issue.

    "illegal?" no you cant be arrested for it. But you could be held liable/slanderous for things you say.

    as a general rule, keep business clean. don't trash a former employer, focus on how your business is going to do X or Y. Speak in generic terms like "we strive to hire only local employees" rather than saying "Company Z hires illegals"

    On the subject of "illegal" workers, it IS illegal for an employer to bar employment to minorities he "thinks" might be illegal. As long as the employees fill out their I-9s, sign them and produce 'valid' paperwork, the company is free to hire them. It is NOT the responsibility, OR the ABILITY of the employer to scrutinize or legitimize the said proof of identity of the worker. That duty falls on the government. as long as the company fills out all their paperwork, they are good. Profiling or refusing employment to someone they think might be illegal, could get them in a lot of trouble.

    So saying "they hire illegals" is only true for companies that a) pay cash to said illegals and b) dont keep records of these employees even existing. If a company is doing that, yes it's illegal. but you are speaking of a "big" company, I somehow think they are very likely to have every T-crossed and every I-dotted on every single I-9 they have on every single employee.

    With that in mind, stating the former employer, employs illegals is a false statement, and can be used as a basis to sue you.

    So in the long run, it's better to focus on not saying anything derogatory about them and try to say almost nothing about that company if you can. Try to act like they don't exist.

    If you DO have to discuss work being done, or past work of the former company. speak of them in a generic term:

    "Mrs. Jones, what do you not like about your current services, and what can I do to make your new service better?"


    "Mr. Smith, are you happy with your current lawn services? If you are not, may I provide you with a quote for replacement services I believe would better suit your needs?"

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