Not always better the devil you know

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Better the devil you know is a common saying but in business the devil you know could be doing you serious damage. 

There have been a few incidents I am aware of where people have been working within a business while also working for the business’ competitors.

We have seen cases of builders working in a company and sending plans and pricing information for future projects to a competitor in exchange for a future, more well-paid position or other more immediately realised rewards. The other builder then contacts the client and quotes a lower price, often then getting the work.

In another case an employee of a motor vehicle dealer that bought a lot of used cars from the public was offering the sellers insultingly low prices for their vehicles on behalf of his employer.

He would then explain to the often-angry sellers that his company didn’t pay very much for cars, but he had heard there was a place across town that paid “far too much” for cars and he would then give the seller the details.

The seller would, more often than not, turn up at the car dealer across town who would already know the price offered and would offer them a price still significantly less than its wholesale market value but by comparison to the last offer, a vast improvement, even when the first employees commission was deducted.

There are some ways to limit the occurrence of damages due to leaked information:

  • Have key employees disclose their connection to, and affiliations with, key competitors.
  • Have strict data protection clauses in employment agreements as well as a non-acceptance of non-declared gratuities clause.
  • Do not allow personal email accounts to be accessed from company devices as these could make it difficult to track the diversion of company data.
  • Have individual logins for CRM and business data systems so you can identify the parties who have accessed information correlated to a data breach.
  • Limit access to pricing, future work and business critical data to those who absolutely need to access it.

People can’t share information that they don’t know.

Just a thought.

Related: Demand plus ‘no delivery’ equals insolvency

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Nick Kerr
Nick Kerr
Nick Kerr is the director of IPI Group Limited. He can be reached on 021 876 527 and nick@nzipi.com.

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