How to keep an employee from quitting and becoming a competitor

New article I just finished:


Good article, Nick! can open some eyes, for sure. :smile:

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Great article.
After 9 months and late success one mentored student was ready to go. I wanted to hire him/her to work with me. Pay, normal fees competitors charge.

I stated: You have to sign a non-competition agreement.
Reply. No way. I get to use all contacts. As well, I want $70,000 starting salary guaranteed annually.
I wished him/her good luck.

14 mentored inspectors. Not one employ. Only one inspecting homes as a company. No website to speak off.
They all want to inspect their way for one reason or another.
One satated, I will be one of your competitors.
I chuckled.

No more mentoring.
I am looking for employees.

Sorry for the edits. PS. Good money to be made with the right company.

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I started as a sub under Gordon Fox. At that time he had a “compete agreement” vs. a non-compete. My colleagues and I, at that time each had our own business, which we were encouraged to grow. The compete agreement laid out how and when we could compete (when I wore my Fox hat, I was only a representative of Fox and I never approached those agents or clients as HomeCert). I never would have agreed to sign a non-compete agreement, even though they’re generally unenforceable in TX. I believe that we both benefited greatly by the relationship that would never have been possible if not for his innovative approach. Eventually, after a few years, my volume became too much for me to take on Fox inspection jobs, so we ended the subcontractor relationship at that time. For the next 12 years we remained colleagues and friendly competitors, until I retired.

I had the opportunity to mentor a number of inspectors during my time in business. It was rewarding for me in its own right and I believe that they benefited as professionals from the field training and mentoring. The payback for me was largely intangible but no less rewarding. It felt like paying forward some of the benefit I gained from my mentor. It’s also a good way to build a circle of “like-minded” colleagues that you can feel confident referring clients back and forth between. I would much rather share my market with a group of friendly, competent “competitors” than be surrounded by hacks.

Keep in mind that I had a huge and active RE market that I serviced and I never had any aspirations of going multi-inspector, so we didn’t have to compete as a zero-sum game.


Wow. That’s amazing.

Brilliant blog Nick! My approach to hiring and keeping quality people is a combination of your three suggestions.

I started my career in 2000 as apprentice with a local builder who had just started his inspection business. I built his business up over 13 years and then, when he wouldn’t include me in the gain, I left to start my own company motivated by a lack my employer’s commitment to me and the absence of a binding agreement preventing me from doing so.

Seven years later I now have a multi-inspector company with 4 inspectors (including myself) and I have just this week hired number 5. My philosophy is a combination of Nick’s recommendations - I compensate my inspectors well and treat them with dignity and respect but I also protect my market.

I compensate my inspectors at a level that I believe exceeds what they could earn in this market if they were competing with me but I also ask each of them to sign a “Confidentiality Agreement” which limits their ability to work as a home inspector in this market.

One of my friendly competitors was having problems with a disgruntled employee. I shared some figures on the pay my top guys receive. The competitor was shocked. Unable or unwilling to compensate his disgruntled employee better, he ended up firing him when he discovered the employee had started his own side business as an inspector. I feel my friend’s experience confirmed my policy of pay well and cover your backside.

This is an extremely complicated topic. I have been employed, self employed and employer for almost 30 years, changing dozens of jobs/domains/countries and i can say, that i definitely prefer to be employe, if the boss is wise enough to treat me well. My best periods were as employe, some of them handsomely paid + no stress.

Conclusion - it isn’t enough to pay well. You need to make your employe comfortable, appreciated and the most important - don’t make promises that you are not sure you can keep! However I had bad experience with employes, so I prefer to work alone, if possible.

Best solution for me is long term subcontracting, but need both parties to appreciate each other.

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I chose this business just because it doesn’t lend to the normal employer/employee model. By the time someone becomes worth employing they are most likely to be good enough to be competition. Before NACHI most home inspectors came out of the licensed trades, but NACHI’s dedication to education has provided a way for people to enter the profession with a general educational background which of course leads to the multi-inspector corporation. Good one-man business’ will still be profitable long after the last realtor has strangled the last multi-home inspector manager. :grinning:


I agree, Joe… :smile:

I concur. Chuck is an amazing guy.

I think many here are like yourself, Emil.
Interesting thoughts though. Why do you prefer being an employe or a person employed for wages or salary, especially at non executive level. Your hours are fixed along with the salary.

As for Bosses. Bosses are in charge of a workers or organizations. There is a distinction between a boss and company owner or CEO.

Personally, I never let ‘feelings’ get in the way of The Bottom Line.
As for promises. In God We Trust. All others pay cash or sign contractors.

Tell the members how inspecting is going.

Looking forward to your reply.

Thanks for asking. The inspection business is going better than planned, so i had to reduce one of my other occupations. However writing reports is the least enjoyable occupation i have, so I may slow down, clear the weekends and look for methods with less written reporting. Ideas?

Uber driver?..or one of the other ones? :smile:

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Rather a cruise ship captain. :man_pilot:

Do you have that expertise, Emil? :smile:

Par for the course. Reporting writing will come with time.

Come over one day and I will show you.
Myself, I use speech recognition software.

Great article!