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PETS+ Latest Real Deal Scenario

The Case of the Employee Turned Competitor

A person tries to How would you handle such a situation and try to prevent it from happening in the future?

Lori’s muscles ached as she thought about how exhausting her day had been. Deliveries came on Wednesdays, and this week had brought a huge amount of inventory. Lori handled much of the work in her tiny pet nutrition-focused boutique and salon by herself. For delivery days and Saturdays, though, she previously had had help from a college student named Cindy — the affable young woman recently gave notice and left.

For the past two years, Cindy had been enrolled in business courses at the local college and was nearing completion of her associate’s degree. Although she had often expressed being unsure about what to do with her life after finishing school, Cindy had seemed eager to learn the ins and outs of running a pet business.

Dealing with customer questions in person and on the phone, scheduling grooming appointments, starting purchase orders, entering new inventory and stocking shelves were skills Cindy had acquired through Lori’s training manual. She had also learned about pet nutrition through educational resources Lori had created and shared with her. Needing more time to finish school projects was the reason Cindy gave for her departure. Lori was disappointed, but understood and wished her well. Training all the skills to a suitable replacement was not something she was looking forward to, so Lori had handled this delivery day alone.

On her way home from work, she noticed the SOLD sign on a property down the street. That place would have made a really cool location for her pet boutique, even though it was on the outskirts of town, Lori mused. The road boasted a high daily traffic count, and the building offered a great deal of space, plenty of parking and curb appeal. Lori pondered the potential of the place … plenty of room to expand and grow her business, and maybe add more services. After 12 years of building her brand and getting the word out locally about pet health and nutrition, the small boutique was now bustling but a little bit cramped for space. Well, no matter now, Lori thought … something else would be opening in that building soon. It was a done deal, so why wonder about what might have been. Plus, she wasn’t in a place financially right now to entertain thoughts of moving.

Later that night, as Lori sat down to relax with a glass of wine and her pups on the couch, she received a text message from a friend. Had she heard the news about that building down the road from her store? Cindy’s parents had purchased it. She was going to open a feed store with a focus on healthy food for all animals … both farm and pet. It had never seemed necessary to have a non-compete agreement with an employee before. Now Lori was worried that she’d made a big mistake …



  • Should Lori talk to Cindy? See if they can remain friendly? Or start planning her defense against the new competitor?
  • Should Lori require that all future employees sign a non-compete agreement?
  • How else could Lori protect her business processes and educational materials from former employees going forward?


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