Ask a House Cleaner, Stole My Clients, Savvy Cleaner

Cleaning Employee Stole My Clients @SavvyCleaner

Errgh. My Cleaning Employee Stole My Clients. What are my legal rights? What can I do to prevent it from happening?

It’s hard enough to grow a business, but what happens when you train employees only to have them go out on their own and compete with you? 

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Hi there I’m Angela Brown, and this is Ask a House Cleaner. This is the show where you going to ask your house cleaning questions.
I get to come up with an answer. Now I may not have the answers myself, but I probably know somebody who does.
I’m connected to the best and the brightest minds in the house cleaning industry.

I’ve been a professional house cleaner myself for 25 years I’ve made all of the mistakes, so you don’t have to.
So, how do you ask a question? Go over to my website at right there in the bottom right-hand corner there’s a blue button. If you click on that blue button it opens up a little microphone, and you can talk right into the computer, and you can ask me a question. And the magic of the system is that it will save your question as an MP3 file and it will send it directly to me here at this show so I can provide you with an answer.

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Question: My Cleaning Employee Stole My Clients

Okay so moving on. Today’s question comes from a woman who is just heartbroken.
She’s had an employee for three or four years they’ve become very dear friends. They worked side-by-side with each other, and then her employee went out on her own.
Taking all of the company information that she learned from her friend, and she stole a lot of her cleaning customers with her.
So my friend is like “What am I supposed to do?”  “This girl left, and she stole half my business.”
“And she’s my friend what am I supposed to do?”  “What are my legal rights?”

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Answer: My Cleaning Employee Stole My Clients

Bad News / Good News

Well, that’s a fair question, and so I am going to answer that right now with this:  it’s going to happen. Even if you hire the best of the best, it could still happen. 
It happens in all service industries. I know this is not the answer that you want to hear, but it happens in all service industries. It happens with restaurants. A chef will become famous by fixing a particular set of dishes.
This particular restaurant will make him famous, and he will grow a clientele. And then he decides for whatever reason he wants to go out on his own. And he leaves, and he buys a restaurant across town, and he takes all of those customers with him.

Hair stylists do it.  They’ll do a particular hairstyle for a particular person, and that person thinks that no one else can mess with their hair do. I know my husband is one of these people.
The same girl did his hair for years. Then she decided she’s going to go out on her own. And guess what? He followed her across town to have his hair done because he didn’t want anyone else messing with his hair.

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It Happens In Every Industry

And it happens in the house cleaning industry. And there’s nothing we can do about.
So I’m super sorry to hear that happens. But it is going to happen. It’s a fact of life, and it’s part of the house cleaning industry.

The best thing that you can hope for is while you’re training people right now, that you get the most help out of them while you can.

Now, the cream rises to the top.
And if you are amazing at what you do it doesn’t matter who steals your customers. In a couple of weeks, they’ll be back because only you can do the amazing job that they’ve grown accustomed to. So the truth of the matter is it might be temporary.

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Customers Have the Right to Choose

But if a client wants to go with your best employee, you can’t stop them. Right?

The customer is not bound by any legal rules or regulations. They’re free to choose any house cleaner they want. That’s probably how you got this job in the first place. They chose to leave the house cleaner they were with, and hire you.
So you can’t be upset about the fact of the matter. That’s the fact of the matter. You know what you can do is you can brace yourself for the impact.

If you’ve ever watched the news, and it’s during one of these just horrific storms –  there’s a hurricane coming. The guy gets on the news he’s like “Hey there’s a storm coming.” And the wind is blowing his hair. Maybe there is rain, and he’s got the little hoodie on.
You know it looks like the cameras are like going back and forth because there’s so much wind and you see the trees swaying in the background.
You ask yourself “Why is this idiot news reporter guy out in the middle of the storm? Why doesn’t he go somewhere to safety?”

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Why Do News Reporters Do That?

He’s trying to prove to you that the storm is serious.
And he’s trying to warn you there’s a hurricane coming. “I need you to buckle up your house.” “Put up the boards on the side of your house.”
“Get the sandbags and everything to prevent the storm from coming in.”
“Barricade all of the things that are going to break or shatter.” “If you’ve got precious artwork hanging on your walls, take it off the wall so if the walls shake they (your paintings) don’t fall and bust.”
So all of that is advice that they give you so that you can evacuate in time. And when you come back there’s going to be damage. You will have lost trees or maybe your roof caved in or whatever. But you can minimize the damage by making preparations.

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A Business Hurricane Is Coming

So in your business, a hurricane is going to come. I don’t have the wind and special effects behind me, but I’m telling you like that news reporter guy.
There’s a storm coming. Your best employees will leave and start their house cleaning businesses. They will take your clients with them there’s nothing you can do about it.

When you start your house cleaning business, and you hire somebody for the first time, you can prepare yourself like you would prepare yourself for a hurricane.
These are the insurances that you put in place. These are the sandbags in the barricades that you put up on the walls. What you do if you have them sign a non-compete.
And be very specific you can not compete with me for a 12-mile radius for two years after you stop cleaning with me. Whether you get fired, or you retire, or you go out on your own. Or you go work for a competitor or whatever; you cannot clean within a 12-mile radius of my business.

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Non-Compete Agreements

Or you might put a stipulation on it that you can not compete in this market for a certain amount of time 12 months, 24 months, 36 months whatever it is.
Get them to sign that and put that inside their employee file. Because once that’s on file now there’s more of a binding contract.
But I’ll be honest with you once you have that in place there’s very little, you can do to enforce it. If you have an employee that’s going to go out and they’re going to start on their own – they’re going to start on their own.

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Don’t Waste Your Time

For you to take them to court is going to consume a whole bunch of your precious resources your time your energy and your money.
You probably don’t want to spend chasing down a best friend. Don’t do that it’s wasteful.
You would be better spent with your time if you would go out and hire a new employee. And you would train them, and you would get them up to speed and whatever so.
Don’t don’t go down the rabbit hole of trying to chase after, and you know try to make your employees stop. If they leave you, they leave you. You’re not holding anybody hostage here.

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Prepare For the Inevitable

If people want to leave and start their own companies wish them well. And that’s pretty much all you can do.
So it is going to happen. And my suggestion to you would be just to prepare for it so that when it happens doesn’t smack you upside the head like: “Oh I never saw the storm coming. I forgot to watch the news.”
I’m the news guy, and I’m telling you right now it’s going to happen. It goes on in every service industry. So don’t let it surprise you. Just go “okay well alright. Yeah, I saw that coming.”
And and then move on. Don’t waste a lot of time and energy and have hurt feelings and be dramatic and unfriend those people from Facebook it’s utterly wasteful just don’t do that.

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You’ve Now Been Warned

Okay, so that’s it for today. If you found this too helpful, then I’m going to ask that you share it with a friend. You can re-post it; you can re-pin it you can tweet it. However, you want to pass it along. Pass it along to somebody you think might benefit from it.
If you have a question head on over to Click that little blue button send me a message and I’ll get back to you with an answer.
So that’s it for today and till I see you again, leave the world a cleaner place than when you found it.

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About the Show

Learn how the show came to be, interesting facts about the show host, and other frequently asked questions about the show.

Resources For This Episode

Non-Compete Agreements: An Employee Perspective –

Non-Competition, Non-Solicitation, and Non-Disclosure Agreements Line by Line: A Detailed Look at Restrictive Covenants and How to Change Them to Meet Your Clients’ Needs –

Employee Non-Compete Agreement – Legally Binding: Employment Paperwork, Legal Forms Book –

Making the Jump into Small Business Ownership –

Companies We Keep: Employee Ownership and the Business of Community and Place –

Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t –

An Employee Has Stolen My Client List. What Can I Do? –

Did an Ex-Employee Steal Your Clients, Data, IP or Trade Secrets? –

How to Keep an Ex-Employee From Stealing Customers –


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SAVVY CLEANER – House Cleaner Training and Certification –

HOUSECLEANING360 – Referral database of the world’s most prominent home service providers and the homeowners they serve.

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