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kazer 02-13-2013 07:14 AM

Taking My Previous Boss's Jobs
I'm currently in the process of starting my own lawn care business, along with my sister. We both have experience working at the same mowing and landscaping business, I was there for 8 years and my sister for 5 years. We were sick of the poor management there but we love this kind of work, so we decided to go out on our own.

At our previous job, my sister and I got to know a lot of our customers very well. They love the work we do and we really enjoy working for them. We were planning to just stop in at most of these residential places and tell them that we're on our own now and would love their business.
MY QUESTION IS- Is this legal to do after leaving a company? My friend who left a salon said she had some issues with refering her clients to her new job and I have to be really careful with how we do it.

Here's the situation. My boss does not know yet that my sister and I are going to be leaving him. (Didn't give the two week notice yet because we want to wait until all our business stuff falls into place.) But we get along great and will be quiting on good terms. The past several years my boss has majorly gotten into equiptment sales and he has lost his passion for the mowing and landscaping end. He lost many, many customers because of lack of communication because he really doesn't care anymore. One of the other foremans told me that the boss won't be hiring new people when we all quit because he basically only has it going because he knows we like our jobs and he doesn't wanna fire us. So I don't feel like me being another competitor now will do him any harm.

patrick6411 02-13-2013 07:26 AM

You and your sister have been with this man for several years. Why not be straight with him, he may help you guys. Heck he may even let you purchase his business. Itís better to keep him as a friend. Stealing his accounts will only cause you issues in the long run. I am not an attorney but did you sign a non-compete when you got hired? Even if you did not, this could open you up for civil.

LawnBoy0311 02-13-2013 07:40 AM

Have you thought about talking to him about it? I wouldn't suggest coming out directly and asking, but maybe hint at it. Maybe say "hey boss, I noticed a couple customers are off the mowing route. Is everything going ok?"

Depending on how long he's been in business, he may be burnt out from mowing. If thats the case and he's ready to move on, maybe partner up with him. He's already an established and your sister run the mowing side, he runs his side that he likes. You'd be out of eachothers way and each doing your own thing.

dpld 02-13-2013 09:18 AM

i don't think you will be on good terms with him after he finds out you want to steal his customers.
regardless of what his intentions on the future are with his business that always goes out the door when the person finds out you were conspiring taking his clients.

it also boils down to it is his business and he is free to make any choice he wants and you are his employee and you will pretty much be stabbing him in the back by doing that, and in the overall grand scheme of things owning a business is a ton of hard word and a lot of luck and you will be giving yourself for lack of a better word " Bad Karma ".

his customers may like you but when you decide to approach them with your plan you might find their reaction not quite what you expect it to be because they will think the same thing i am saying and if you can stab your employer in the back after several years what will you do with them.

after all, you may have been doing the work but they hired him and you were using his equipment and insurance and going by his direction as well as if it were not for him you would not even know those people.

the only other thing i can add to put it into perspective is would you make a move on your buddies girl friend based solely on that they will eventually break up or would you at least wait until they broke up officially to do it?

and would you expect your buddy to view you the same knowing full well that all along you were conspiring to bang his old lady?

i have had several employees start their own business over the last 23 years and in fact i had helped them all because who am i to stop them or control their lives. but at the same time they were loyal and did not ever try to steal my customers.

if one of my guys tried to take my accounts behind my back i would be very upset and there is no telling what i would do.

Steve 02-13-2013 01:15 PM


i have had several employees start their own business over the last 23 years and in fact i had helped them all because who am i to stop them or control their lives. but at the same time they were loyal and did not ever try to steal my customers.
How did that work out for them? Are any of them still in business? Do you ever find yourself competing for customers with them?

dpld 02-13-2013 04:20 PM


Originally Posted by Steve (Post 121924)
How did that work out for them? Are any of them still in business? Do you ever find yourself competing for customers with them?

they are all still in business and are all doing very well for themselves.
we still keep in contact regularly and we actually from time to time trade work, for example if i get something that is too small or out of my preferred area i give it to one of them and if they get something too big or need help by way of man power or equipment they use me.

i also like to buy in bulk and we pool our purchasing of supplies and materials together to make our orders bigger and reduce our costs.
it makes a big difference with everything in that regards and one example is fert and weed control products, i usually go through about 10 palettes of fert in the spring time alone and the other guys combined go through about 10 together so i will call up the distributor directly and have a whole tractor trailer load dropped off at my shop which totals 20 pallets and believe me when i tell you that the savings is unbelievable.
last year alone all of us combined went trough 6 tractor trailer loads of granular alone.

i have never looked at my competitors as a enemy or even competitor for that matter and i have always went by the philosophy that there is strength in numbers and we all have far more to gain working together then against each other.
the only guys i frown on are the low ballers which i am sure most do anyways and we all work together to kind of monopolize the area rather then under cutting each other and driving prices down.

it is bad for all of us when a customer calls 10 different co's and gets 10 different prices.

i was actually very happy for my guys that went on their own and even though i was sad to see them go i was happy for them that they moved on to bigger and better things and we all just carried our relationship to the next level and kind of created a semi partnership that benefits us all.

Steve 02-14-2013 11:09 AM

That is fantastic!

Have any of them surprised you with their business acumen? Or their ability to grow a profitable business larger than what you thought they could do?

dpld 02-14-2013 01:20 PM


Originally Posted by Steve (Post 121962)
That is fantastic!

Have any of them surprised you with their business acumen? Or their ability to grow a profitable business larger than what you thought they could do?

i knew they had it in them and always expected them to succeed. i learned from the best and carried that into my business and they did the same.

i would be the first person to say that in this business no one is gonna invent a better way and the best thing you can do is follow suit of others who had success.
the guy who taught me learned from the best and it just manifests it's way down the line to who ever has their eyes wide open and a willingness to realize that.
until you can accept the fact that you don't know all there is to know you will never learn a thing and even after 23 years i still learn of new things and better ways.

Steve 02-15-2013 01:12 PM

That is very fascinating and very true. As variables change, we either must change to account for them or get run over by those who have.

This can be frustrating but on the flip side, it keeps it all fresh and if we are really into something, when variable to succeed change, we will never get bored.

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