My employees are stealing my customers!

What you do to prevent your employees from stealing your customers?

I have a web design firm, and I always suffer from this problem (my employees stole my customers); 6 months ago I discovered that one of my web designers has stolen 3 customers from me! I fired him but after he did what he did.

The designers – of course – will know the customers’ company name and then find out there contact numbers through many ways (you know), and they know they know company’s prices, simply they’ll give lower price (70% off) and more services from the sake of convincing customer to switch to them.

Some customers will go anywhere and deal with anyone anyway just for lower price, as well there are customers who value working with a reputable company knowing that it will cut costs on the long run.

Now I can’t let go that idea that maybe one of the other designers are stealing me; which forced me to apply some procedures to tighten it up for them but these procedures also reduced the flexibly, efficiency and dynamic in the company, and forced me waste more of my time to follow up!

So, what you do to make sure or at least to secure your customers from your designers and other employees of course, and in the same time keep the work running smoothly as it should.

Note: All employees sign contracts that prevent them from doing so, but of course they won’t announce you that they’re aiming to steal customers from you!!

Some facts:

The company has 300+ clients.
The company has 15 employees in total, 6 of them are designers/developers.

Sharkas

When you find out about the stolen customers, sue them. Plain and simple. It may not get you your customers back but it will stop them from doing so in the future and you’ll get some financial satisfaction out of it.

Do you have a contract / NDA / non-compete agreement with these people? If so, what does it say about them taking your clients?

We have hosting & we offer pretty much everything except SEO. One of my resellers actually offers SEO & he does design work. We were in the process of repairing one of his client’s websites (the last programmer did not understand the client at all) and he asked me if we would design a banner. I called the reseller because (even though it is not in the contract) I wanted to be upfront with them on that.

It sounds like you need to screen your employees better. Try to find out why they did steal them. Is it money? Easier to work with the client that on the job?

Sue them for contract breakage and/or theft of trade secrets (a customer is considered that), if that is allowed in your country. In addition, it might also be a criminal offense.

Thanks all for your replies…

The issue is that when one of my designers/employees decides to take any of my customers they do it in private (you know) and they deal with the stolen customer on that…

So, if I’m gonna sue them I won’t find single evidence around to use, they do it out of paper… in shot completely private! As nothing is happening…

Last time when I discovered them was totally based on coincidence…

What I’m asking for is some kind of process to eliminate their chance (my employees) to find my customers, contact them and make a deal with them (internally).

Regarding if include something “contract breakage and/or theft of trade secrets”… Yes! But never works for the reason I stated above.

Thanks again…

Sharkas

It doesn’t matter if you have a written agreement stating that your employees will not compete with you. Usually these agreements also specify a period of time after employment as well. If this is stated, it doesn’t matter how they do it or how you find out, it is a broken contract and enforcable for damages in most countries.

Wayne’s right. It won’t help if you don’t know about what’s going on, but once you do find out that your clients are being stolen it’s clobberin’ time.

Spending money on a lawsuit won’t help. You need to send a certified letter to your employee (or former employee) advising them that they have broken their contract. In addition, send a certified letter to your stolen customer advising them that your employee has broken his contract by soliciting business from them directly(state the non-compete line from your contract). 9 times out of 10 the client had no idea that your designer was under contract and will cease doing business with them.

Does your contract with your customer include a clause preventing them from dealing directly to your employee? I don’t suggest you sue the customer, but you might approach them in a non-accusational way to let them know that hiring your employee is a bad business. Some will take that seriously, and even if they don’t come back to you they will probably drop that former employee.

Thanks guys for the valuable advices, appreciated. :slight_smile:

Sharkas