Home – New Forums Starting your journey “Poaching” Clients

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  • #986448
    Happy2010
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    Hi all
    I’m new to the forum. As I’m about to kick off my own accountancy practice I’ve been enjoying reading through all the hints & tips that are on offer in here. I’m learning heaps.
    One thought that’s troubling me currently, is how do I take my own clients with me from the firm I currently work at? A large majority of my clients will follow me, but how do I ethically tell them that I am now working for myself?..

    #1157791
    LucasArthur
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    Struth,

    Ethically, i do not believe this is possible.. the client may have been brought on board by your skills, by your presence, by you although you enlisted them to a company that you have signed over all rights (generally).. Unless you have a contract that states you MAY take clients with you or contact them about leaving and opening your own venture, i believe the dilemma will not be “how can i ethically take them’ but ‘how can i overlook the ethical dilemma of poaching my past employers clients”..

    I am not advocating either… trust me, certainly not.. but your positioning of the question would potentially mitigate any ethics involved as any way you look at it (unless contractually allowed) would be going against most ethical standards..

    In fact, most contracts would have a clause saying you COULD NOT poach clients and in some cases not even work in the same area for a certain period of time.. Actually some contracts me even state you cant say you are leaving and then **POOF, one day you are gone!

    Maybe a different angle would be “how could i keep in touch with my past clients that i have formed a relationship with (even without them knowing you are leaving)”.. WOW, great question.. Maybe suggestion would be to FB them maybe,,,, and well, i am sure once you start your new venture that you may want to PUBLICISE OR YELL that you are in business via your FB page??? right??? do you think they may see this message? possibly????

    Cheerio, all the best struth!

    Jason ;)

    ps.. welcome to the forum.. we love getting to know others on here so next time you pop on maybe you might like to share a little of your story or at least your name?

    Jason Ramage | Lucas Arthur Pty Ltd | E: [email protected]   P: 61 3 8324 0344    M: 61 412 244 888
    #1157792
    Happy2010
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    Thanks Jason. Exactly what was going through my head. And even to take contact details would be a breach of privacy. Though would it with those that call me on my mobile?
    There is no restraint or client clauses in my contract. But still whilst I’m employed by them I know I have an obligation to act in the best interests of the company employing me. So definitely nothing can be done until I leave.
    The FB idea is brilliant. I know that will reach some of my bigger clients. And I guess with the move I’ll sadly have to sacrifice some of the others.
    I shall give you a big story, name where I live & the whole box & dice, I like to talk :) when it’s all done & dusted. I’d hate for google to track me down, as that’s where I found this great place. But basically, I’ve been an accountant for 20 years this March & am thinking that with my anniversary, it is time for new challenges. That & the fact that I’m not looked after where I am. :-)

    #1157793
    5teve
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    It may also be worth looking at linkedIn as that ‘announces’ to all of your contacts that you have a new job when you update your employment details! Your contacts may see it and be curious…

    Steve

    #1157794
    Tony Manto
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    Yes LinkedIn is the way to go as it will notify all your connections of you new position. So I would make sure you connect to all you current contacts now to ensure they get this message.

    Plus, by attending network meetings and though referrals you should get of to a good start.

    As a small. Business owner you will alway need to have some marketing strategies going if you wish to grow. This is a bit different than working for an established firm where customers are just handed to you.

    Good luck.

    #1157795
    Bec CB
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    Struth, post: 182029 wrote:
    There is no restraint or client clauses in my contract.

    Be super careful in this area. Employment contracts often have a clauses saying you will not “solicit” the employer’s clients. In the world of employment law, “solicit” includes “if they ring you and want you to be their accountant”, in other words, even if they search you out, you may be in breach of your contract.

    The other phrase to look out for is “restraint of trade” which, as Jason said, limits the geographical areas you may operate in after you leave their employment.

    May I suggest you take your contract to your local community legal centre for some free advice on the specific terms of your contract?

    Looking forward to following your adventures in soloism.

    Bec.

    #1157796
    Divert To Mobile
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    Obviously there is no ethical way of “poaching” the clients from your employer.

    This is a perfect case of trade as your own name and where advertising as your self is the correct path. Your clients know your first and last name. If they really want to move over to you they will google you and all you have to do is be findable.

    However to simply vanish from the worlplace without saying goodbye to the clients who you have developed a relationship with could also be considered a rude. How that conversation progresses…

    Steve

    #1157797
    bb1
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    sorry maybe I am a bit to honest, they won the business for those clients so trying to take them is poaching. But no matter which way you do it you are poaching a client from the person who has being paying you for the past X amount of time.

    What you are basically saying is that you dont think you are good enough to get your own clients, so lets take them from my current employer, how would you feel if one of your emaployee’s (should that happen), left and took some of your clients. Put yourself in your current employers psoition. Although most non poaching clauses in contracts are difficult to uphold if push comes to shove, I just find it unethical, go out and win your own clients dont impact someone elses hard work.

    #1157798
    LucasArthur
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    bb1, post: 182147 wrote:
    What you are basically saying is that you dont think you are good enough to get your own clients, so lets take them from my current employer

    Hi bb,

    Although i applaud your honesty, i am unsure that it has to do with what you have written above.. that struth is not good enough to get his own clients, most people that ponder this situation are from a professional background and have developed long term (some short) relationships with their clients and have developed this client base on their own skill set and not that of the employers name necessarily.. In this situation it becomes hard to separate the client/worker and business and i think this is what Struth may be referring to.

    Although i am not advocating the pilfering/poaching of clients, if the clients he has signed on are there because of his skill set and understanding of the clients there is a chance that these customers will seek him out or even leave the business Struth used to represent as they are no longer being serviced by the person they trusted (being Struth)… I think this is the dilemma he is pondering, which is quite black and white if he was to approach those clients and he may just be trying to morally accept this at present..

    Wouldnt hang him just yet :D

    Cheers
    Jason ;)

    Jason Ramage | Lucas Arthur Pty Ltd | E: [email protected]   P: 61 3 8324 0344    M: 61 412 244 888
    #1157799
    bb1
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    See thats where I have the problem, he says they are his own clients, NO, they are the clients from his employer, he just happens to be their account manager whilst employed with that business. The clients do not belong to him.

    #1157800
    LucasArthur
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    Hi bb

    Certainly understand your point of view and certainly commend your approach to what is morally/ethically right..

    Although I do believe that we should cut poor old Struth some slack and not read what he has written to literally. . As I am sure if it was his belief that they are “his clients” as you so eloquently refer to that he would not have sought the forums input at all as he/she has done… I think, from what I read into it (and I am not very good at being articulate) that when struth said ‘my clients’ that he was speaking as a current employee cos I think he is still working there and technically they would be his (as he is looking after them – for his boss of course) clients still. . I dont think it was literally saying THEY ARE MY CLIENTS SO I AM TAKING THEM.. I only think that as I previously said, if the mentality was they are his clients already this post would be redundant before it was written.

    Just saying, maybe we should just pose the morality of the issue for struth to work through in his/her own way and be impartial I guess which would be in good spirit of the community I guess?

    Most replies have said it is not really ok to poach them, although there is no harm in seeking ways to enrich his portfolio through a network of people that want to seek him out …

    Cheers
    Jason

    Jason Ramage | Lucas Arthur Pty Ltd | E: [email protected]   P: 61 3 8324 0344    M: 61 412 244 888
    #1157801
    Tristan
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    I had a similar situation recently after I sold my business. I was under contract not to approach any of my old clients for 2 years. Several contacted me privately and asked for work, or proposed business alliances and new joint ventures. Obviously I turned them all down to honour the contract, but I have given the situation some thought. My conclusion was that in your situation, Struth, to take any clients “Ethically” or at least “Morally” from your past employer, then you need to be sure that they have severed ties with your past employer anyway. I.e. they are going to find another accountant anyway.

    I think you are strongly obliged to encourage any of the clients that you serviced on behalf of your employer to stay with your old employer. If, they come to you and say something like “the new guy is terrible, I am leaving Company X to find a new accountant”, then, and only after you have made sure that they have really tried to stay with your past employer, can you entertain the idea of taking on the client.

    #1157802
    bb1
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    SimplyReplica, post: 182190 wrote:
    Most replies have said it is not really ok to poach them, although there is no harm in seeking ways to enrich his portfolio through a network of people that want to seek him out …

    Cheers
    Jason

    I think the Thread name says enough about the true intent

    #1157803
    Happy2010
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    Sorry if my terminology confuses you bb1. Maybe I should have named the thread “How do I secure clients that I currently deal with legally, morally & ethically?”. Not sure it would have fitted though.

    Also, when I refer to “my” clients, even the firm I work for call them “my” clients. Most are ones I have secured myself, there’s a few “hand-me-downs” who will go back to the original manager I presume. But I doubt friends & family will stay once I have gone. And people move accountants all the time, and a quarter of my clients have followed me from a past firm that I worked at. So I see no problem in them staying with me. My question was, how do I let them know??

    Thanks all for the hints & tips. I’m off to see how LinkedIn works. Have had an account for awhile, but like my Facebook account, it’s not well utilised. That I guess is about to change…

    #1157804
    LucasArthur
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    Howdy Struth

    Mate, I dont speak for everyone although I do believe most understand what you are ‘trying’ to achieve. .

    I really look forward to you sharing more, once you are able to. .

    All the best and keep us updated.

    Cheers
    Jason

    Jason Ramage | Lucas Arthur Pty Ltd | E: [email protected]   P: 61 3 8324 0344    M: 61 412 244 888
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