Problem Vendors, Part 1: Poaching People

WeddingIQ Blog - Problem Vendors, Part 1: Poaching People

(Editor's Note: Wedding business owners are people just like everyone else, and can fall anywhere on the wide spectrum of philosophical concepts like ethics and morals. As much as we might like to believe that a relationship-based industry such as weddings would naturally attract good people, that just isn't always the case. In April, we wrote a series of posts on difficult wedding clients, and this month we'll be focusing on problem vendors - we'll be discussing five separate categories of behaviors and business practices that range from shady to downright illegal, and why they're so bad for our industry as a whole. Be sure to check back each Monday in June for new posts on this important subject!)

Good people are hard to find. And apparently, for some wedding business owners, so are good business ethics. We've heard from multiple wedding entrepreneurs that others in the industry are always trying to poach their people. Some folks in the wedding business are famous for using bridal shows to hit up other companies' talent, in an effort to convince them to come play for their team. I personally have been told by the DJs who work for me that they're constantly being solicited by a couple of other DJ company owners in the area (in one case, multiple times by the same company - in spite of the fact that my DJs have made it clear that they're loyal to me). It stinks to hear about, and it makes me think these other business owners are slime.

At WeddingIQ, we're big proponents of healthy competition - just last month we wrote about how competition in its truest form is a positive thing for the business world as a whole, and the wedding industry in particular.

However, trying to steal talent from other companies isn't competitive. It's wrong. And here are five reasons why:

It's a terrible thing to do. Even in business, there's an unspoken "Golden Rule," and with that comes a set of behaviors that are never acceptable. If you run a wedding business, and you have people working for you, you know how hard it is to recruit them, train them, and hang onto them. You know you'd be upset if a competitor - particularly ones who smile in your face, as my DJs' attempted poachers do - tried to woo your talent away from your business and your clients. Attempting to coax others' employees and contractors into coming to work for you is shady, period.

It makes you look bad to others. Believe me, when you do underhanded things to other wedding business owners, they're going to make it known. Whether it's one-on-one gossip, thinly veiled social media posts, or an anonymous rant via our secret submission form (which we're happy to turn into a blog post!). Sure, many people are capable of seeing two sides of a story, and maybe someone hearing about you trying to steal another company's people won't immediately think you're the worst person on earth. But it's a pretty indefensible behavior, and I guarantee people will view you as less trustworthy when they hear that you've engaged in something as underhanded as this.

It attracts people who are willing to betray their boss and their clients. I mentioned before how keeping talent is hard. Imagine how much harder it is when a person's already demonstrated their willingness to jump ship. Someone may be the most talented DJ, photographer, floral designer, salesperson, or whatever else in the world, but if they're inherently disloyal, are they really who you want representing your company?

It's harder to train people who are used to another system. In my own personal experience, the worst hiring decisions I've made have been people who have been trained on another company's standards and protocols - getting them to unlearn what they think they know, and to do things my way, is way more difficult than training "fresh" talent on the way we do things. This isn't to say that people can't adapt, but the more set in their ways someone is, the harder it is for them to acclimate themselves to your brand and your business practices.

It may come back to bite you, legally speaking. Many employees and freelancers are bound by some kind of contract with the company they work for - this could include a non-compete agreement, or at the very least, some kind of performance or service agreement in which they're legally bound to fulfill certain terms and obligations. If you're poaching someone from another company, chances are they're violating this agreement (and I personally wouldn't count on a person's word that they aren't, especially if they're willing to leave their existing job to work for you). This could have real financial consequences for you if the other business owner chooses to enforce the person's contract, leaving them unable to service your clients.

It should go without saying that trying to attract talent from other wedding companies is wrong; although, if every business owner operated with integrity, I guess there'd be no need for a series like this. Be sure to check back next Monday for Kyle's take on vendors who step on others' toes in another way entirely!


Jennifer Reitmeyer

Jennifer Reitmeyer is the founder of WeddingIQ and the owner of MyDeejay, Firebrand Messaging, and Authentic Boss. She is also a WeddingWire Education Expert, a small business coach and a professional speaker on the event industry circuit.