A reader writes: “Our customer employs an onsite manager who owns her own cleaning service. Although this means she has knowledge of the challenges we face and in some ways is very reasonable, it has come to our attention that she has discussed employing some of our current staff ‘when she takes over the contract.’ How do we deal with this?”

The short answer is very carefully. I do not have enough information to be very specific so have to speak in general terms. In most cases, you should have a rule that does not allow a current employee to be hired away by the customer without written permission. There also needs to be a clear understanding of company information that can be protected from predators like the one you described. Your bigger challenge is the conflict of interest you have with someone responsible for conducting Quality Control inspections, managing complaints and reporting back to their superior regarding your performance. They can easily be building a case against you so that at the right time they can suggest that your services be terminated for cause or simply not renewed.

According to the relationship you have with the customer, you need to schedule a face-to-face meeting and bring your concerns to their attention regarding this matter. You should state rather forcefully that if the allegations are true then there exists a potential conflict of interest with the onsite manager. Of course you also need to document, document, document every complaint (valid or invalid) so that you can demonstrate that you have responded in a professional manner. You probably cannot keep your staff from staying on with whomever replaces you but take a second look at your employment agreement and see if it can be tightened up. Good luck.

Your comments and questions are important. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean...

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or CTCG50@comcast.net