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Poaching clients.

(18 Posts)
WhatKindofFool Mon 04-Feb-13 21:39:24

I was made redundant 6 months ago and have since set up my own business as an interior designer. I decided that I would contact my previous clients from my old firm to see if I could offer them my services. My old boss found out and is asking me to explain myself. I can understand that she is annoyed but am I being unreasonable to think that I am not answerable to her anymore?

In the 10 years that I worked for her she never paid me particularly well and she was extremely controlling. I see my redundancy as a blessing now as I can progress without her. She is retiring in 2 years and I want to capture the business that will float into the ether as she winds down.

flowery Mon 04-Feb-13 21:55:15

Do you have any restrictive covenants in your contract?

WhatKindofFool Mon 04-Feb-13 22:15:39

No. I didn't have a contract. I was technically self employed. So, I wasn't really made redundant in the legal sense of the word. She gave all the work she used to give me to her husband who lost his job.

hatgirl Mon 04-Feb-13 22:18:16

fair play I say

She should have kept you as a valid employee rather than screw you over as soon as it didn't suit her then she wouldn't be in this position.

She is retiring anyway so what does she expect! That no one else is going to try and step into the gap she is going to leave.

jkklpu Mon 04-Feb-13 22:20:02

If you kept the contact details of those people, could she have any case that you took the data "owned" by her company? Not sure. But be honest about the justification - it's the free market. Saying now that you weren't treated well for 10 years isn't an indictment of her it's a recognition that you should have walked yourself years ago.
Good luck with your business.

TeamEdward Mon 04-Feb-13 22:20:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WhatKindofFool Mon 04-Feb-13 22:46:24

Yes, jkklpu, I didn't have to put up with the situation.

Her husband lost his job several times over the course of the time I worked for her and each time she gave him the work that she would have given me so I would have to go without my main source of income for 2-3 months at a time. This time It went on longer so I decided that the relationship was clearly finished and I decided to move on.

I don't believe that The clients I contacted were actively engaged with her at the time i contacted them but they were people that I had worked with in the past via her.

I'm afraid that the way I see it is that she was happy to use me most of the time but dropped me when it suited her. I can't feel particularly loyal in those circumstances.

WhatKindofFool Mon 04-Feb-13 22:48:00

I mean that I don't feel loyal or answerable under the circumstances.

FlouncingMintyy Mon 04-Feb-13 22:48:50

Why have you started two threads about this?

WhatKindofFool Mon 04-Feb-13 22:50:02

I thought that this was a more appropriate place to post.

CajaDeLaMemoria Mon 04-Feb-13 22:50:42

Did you use the details you got from her?

I mean, did you use emails/information that would be easy to find publicly, or did you use contact details/information/contacts that you already had via your old employer?

WhatKindofFool Mon 04-Feb-13 22:56:19

I used the details I already had but they would have been available publicly had I chosen to look them up.

Technically, she wasn't an "employer". I don't know if that makes a difference. Anyway, as it happens I only contacted 2 ex clients and I have not had any work from either them.

Recruitment agencies always ask if you can bring clients from an old job to a new job so I assumed this was a pretty done thing in the business I work in.

flowery Tue 05-Feb-13 10:03:55

Sounds fine to me. Self-employed or employed, a decent contract between you would have had appropriate restrictions on client information and on approaching clients, but as you had nothing of the sort, you are free to approach them and do not have to "explain yourself" to her at all. Perhaps another time she'll get contracts drafted properly!

CarrotsAreNotTheOnlyVegetables Tue 05-Feb-13 10:13:43

One of the managers working in DH's firm who had a portfolio of clients he looked after decided to leave to set up his own firm. He contacted all the clients in his portfolio to offer his services. Quite a number moved to him as he had personally looked ater their affairs for a number of years. DH's firm took quite a hit on income because of this.

DH's firm took legal advice. As there was no restrictive covenant in his employment contract there was absolutely no action they could take.

DH felt rather let down as they had looked after this manager well for a number of years and none of the clients had actually been brought in by the manager. His job was safe and he was paid a very competitive salary with a generous bonus. But DH accepts it was his fault for not getting the contract sorted out properly.

However, in your case, you were definitely NOT looked after so, legally and morally, your old firm does not have a leg to stand on. Good luck with the new business.

flowery Tue 05-Feb-13 10:20:21

"As there was no restrictive covenant in his employment contract there was absolutely no action they could take." Absolutely, this is something I get a lot. Standard contracts you can get from the internet very often don't have this kind of clause in, but having it in can save small businesses a lot of money when employees leave.

CarrotsAreNotTheOnlyVegetables Tue 05-Feb-13 10:32:05

DH has now learned his lesson and all employment contracts were promptly reviewed by their solicitor and updated!

His business did take a significant hit though which they are only now beginning to recover from. Take note of Flowery's advice, all business owners!

flowery Tue 05-Feb-13 10:39:34

Indeed! grin

One of the things about small businesses is that they are often heavily based on trust. But while that's a nice characteristic in many ways, it's only good to a point, and as a business grows, it becomes much more vulnerable and needs to balance wanting an environment of trust with putting in place reasonable protection.

Which is pretty easy to do in fact, and I'm glad your DH has done so Carrots.

Good luck with your business OP, and if/when you get to the stage of taking on employees/contractors, take heed of the lesson your ex boss is learning now!

WhatKindofFool Tue 05-Feb-13 11:31:25

Thanks flowery

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