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.


I’ll be brutally honest with you.  There’s nothing you can do to stop people from stealing people.

See, people can’t steal people.  They can’t!  The entire notion is off a bit and needs clarifying.


This is the deal.  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?  Rather, who would say that?  Your former cleaning customer won’t have that conversation with you.  Neither will your ex-employee.  Whom 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?


Oh, come on!  Use your time wisely.


Again, there isn’t much you can do about two individuals (your former customer and 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.


Wipe your tears…..


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




Let’s go!


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 and they will 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 25 years of professional cleaning experience talking to you.  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.  Don’t stop.  Just be aware, that an employee’s decision to “do you wrong”, really has nothing 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!


Now, you were searching for what can you do when a team member has already ‘stole’ your customer, so let’s talk about that.


“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. (If you can do this, you’re already batting a thousand!) #winning.

Seriously, someone needs to confess that this happened, AND you need proof.  After all, you need something to take to court if you decide to pursue damages.

And that’s next….


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 to gather evidence to present.  Make sure that your pursuit of justice is worth the income you lost from that customer.


Do your homework, okay?


Now, rather this has happened to your residential or office cleaning business yet, put this information into action.  Do the homework assignment outlined next especially if you’re a new cleaning company.



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!



Creator of A Janitor’s Story®.  I started my office cleaning side hustle at 20 years old. Years later, with the partnership of my husband and our amazing staff, my business grew to mid-six figures and fulfilled my wildest dreams!  Now, 27 years STRONG, I’ve retired, and I help aspiring entrepreneurs to START and GROW their house and office cleaning service businesses to achieve their biggest dreams.  I’d like to help you do the same.


Click here to join my email list for constant inspiration, deals and special offers EXCLUSIVELY for new cleaning business solopreneurs and small cleaning teams.  I look forward to meeting you inside!



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