What can I do when an employee steals a customer?

What to do when an employee steals a customer. Distressed woman in office with her head down next to her computer.
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When you ask, “What can I do when an employee steals a customer?”, is ultimately asking, “What can I do when a person steals another person?”. Doesn’t sound right, does it? The answer is … nothing really.  But, there are a few things you can do to prevent employees from stealing your customers from your professional cleaning company. Keep reading and we’ll give you 3 ways to stop employees from stealing customers.


Here’s a scenario. You, the PROFESSIONAL CLEANING BUSINESS OWNER had a customer. Then, for whatever reason, you didn’t. By some coincidence, you learn that an ex-employee now cleans at the location of your former customer.


Strange? Maybe.

Coincidence? Nope.


Would you say that your employee stole your cleaning customer? Who can say? After all your former cleaning customer wouldn’t have that conversation with you. Neither will your ex-employee,  who by now has probably blocked your calls and association on all social media once they received their last paycheck.


Again, strange? Maybe. Coincidence? Not even.


So, who would corroborate your theory?


No one.


Even if you are planning to do a “drive-by” your former customer’s home hoping to catch the “people thief” going inside and armed with cleaning supplies, DON’T DO IT.


Just don’t.


It would be a waste of time trying to catch this person. And just what are you hoping to catch – a thief in the act of cleaning?


Again, there isn’t much you can do about two individuals (your former customer and your former employee), making a conscientious decision to sever ties with your professional maid or janitorial cleaning company. Then enter an agreement as cleaner and customer.


See my point.


You can’t do anything about that.


You can do a few things to help prevent employees from stealing customers.



How to prevent employees from stealing customers


1. Draft non-compete agreements with all employees at the time of hire. If you currently don’t have such a thing, you can go anywhere on-line and download a standard agreement. Make sure you and every team member signs a copy. Keep a copy in their employee file. Also, tweak things a bit to fit your particular business’ structure. You know, like if you have employees versus independent contractors. Also, be specific in terms of how long an ex-employee needs to wait before pursuing one of your customers.


2. Encourage employee loyalty. True enough, no matter how well you treat some team members, they’re human. And, people are people – they’ill do whatever they need to do for their personal benefit.


I’m not trying to sound cynical, but I’m being real with you. Honestly, this is 27 years of professional cleaning experience… people will be people and their personal stresses, needs, and frustrations in life will sometimes override your best intentions for fostering a fantastic culture at work.


Now, does this mean to stop all positive employee engagement? Heck no! Continue to give your best. Be your best. And, make decisions that are best for your cleaning company. Just be aware, that an employee’s decision to “do you wrong”, may not have anything to do with you at all. Honestly.


In fact, add to the culture at your company. Offer great incentives for referrals with a great referral system. Or, have seasonal celebrations with your staff.


3. Continue to improve your customer’s experience. Ultimately, this is always, always your main bottom line. Click here to find out how to keep your customers happy.


Make sure that they are getting the best from your professional cleaning business. Check in with them from time to time. And, never forget to say thank you with cards, and the occasional phone call. It matters.



“What can I do when an employee steals a customer?”

Remember, what I said earlier – you can’t do anything especially if you don’t have proof. Trust me, I know the feeling of frustration and embarrassment. So, here goes a few things you can do if you want to pursue legal action..


First.  You must have tangible proof that the employee entered an agreement, verbal or written, with your ex-customer.

You need something to take to court if you decide to pursue damages.


Secondly.  Pursue legal action to enforce the ‘non-compete’ agreement you had in place.

Before you decide to take the employee to court, send them a cease and desist letter. Again, have proof first.


If your former employee doesn’t stop cleaning for your former customer, decide if you want to take it to the next level. Here is when you may want to consult a business attorney.


Honestly speaking, consider your costs before going to court about this. There are attorney fees, court fees, and time spent to gather evidence to present. Make sure that your pursuit of justice is worth the income you’ve lost from that customer.



Homework:  Download a non-compete agreement for your company and require every new and exiting team member to sign it. Continue to encourage team building practices no matter what’s going on. The culture at the workplace really matters. Also, don’t forget to keep your customers happy! 



There is nothing you can do to stop an employee from stealing your customers. People will be people. The most you can do is prevention. Encourage team building. Continue customer satisfaction. And, if an employee steels a customer from you, get proof, send a cease and desist letter, and decide if further action is necessary.



“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”

— Winston S. Churchill


Until next time,

Happy cleaning!



I grew my office cleaning side hustle into a ½ million-dollar corporation with the partnership of my husband and our amazing staff. In 2020, I retired my service-based business to shift my focus and passion from serving cleaning clientele to serving cleaning business owners.


Utilizing my 27+ years’ experience, I offer free and paid products exclusively for cleaning business owners and cleaning side hustlers at A Janitor’s Story® Website and my VIP Group Coaching Membership App.


I’ve served other cleaning pros by helping them to turn one time cleaning jobs into high paying recurring customers, create excellent client retention practices, develop hiring systems that really work, build marketing techniques that convert and so much more.


If this is a place you’d like to explore, I’d love to serve you too. Simply sign up to my free weekly email newsletter for tips and inspiration. I can’t wait to meet you inside.

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