Moonlighting: For employees, it may be considered a harmless way to make a few extra bucks on the side. For those who own service companies, it may be completely off-limits. What’s your policy on moonlighting? Industry pros share their thoughts.

The Question:

Jason Hanchey
Aquia Pool and Spa | San Antonio, Texas

“Moonlighting: Is it an instant fireable offense? Or do you allow it?”


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Danny Ulfers
Tropical Pool Services and Renovations | Mandeville, La.

“Depends on company, but this should be addressed when you hire. We clearly state it is a fireable offense. Don’t mince words.”

TJ Palmer
TJ The Pool Guy | Aston, Penn.

“My opinion: You can’t stop it. Tell me the name of a plumber or an electrician who doesn’t do side jobs. As long as they are not stealing customers or product, I’m ok with it. I would rather people be honest.

And give them an employee discount. That helps with the stealing of product.

We all know good employees are hard to find. If it is not hurting your business, what’s the problem?”

Josh Berson
Mystic Pools | Old Bridge, N.J.

“What’s in your employment agreement? In this business the agreement should absolutely include repercussions for moonlighting employees. IMO, unless it’s for friends/family, it’s termination for the employee. If it’s friends/family I’d like them to approach me to discuss how they can handle it appropriately (on their own time/with their own chems or pay costs, etc.).”

David Nelson

“Non-competes are worthless unless you have the time to go after them and also are willing to spend money. How can you fault someone for starting a business exactly like you did? Our employee of five to six years went out on his own; we supported him the whole way and has since referred probably a dozen pools back to us, many of which are on regular service. Not to mention probably thousands in service calls.”

Darrel Barnett
Pineapple Pool Service | Aliso Viejo, Calif.

“Thank you everybody for once again reminding me to keep it simple: no employees

soco pools frankin VA Friday, 20 July 2018
bring that business back..if employee feels he needs to make extra cash...let him......but materials should come thru the store. give employee every reason to give you business
2nd)good pay and plenty of work......means no time for sidework
Employees signing agreements, etc... you can't stop the moonlighting unless they are a caught in the act.

As business owners, we pay for licenses, insurances, inventory, vehicles-basic overhead. That determines our service rates and material pricing. Moonlighters don't have that concern.
Moonlighters without insurance are taking a risk. The customers are taking an even bigger risk.
What if a moonlighter accidently starts a fire from a cigarette butt on their property and burns their house to the ground? Where's the recourse for the homeowner? None. Think about it.
Shame on the homeowner for hiring them.
I believe that side work should be prohibited with the exception of family or close friends. If you're doing side work, you are taking prospective business from your employer, or, as in the case of a distributor or mfg rep. , from your customers. Your focus should be on making your employer profitable. That's what you're being paid for. You're not being paid to develop your own clientele and company. Chances are that you're using contacts, tools, materials, knowledge or other assets that are available to you because of your employer. You may not consider it stealing because you (hopefully) are paying for any materials or products used, but you are poaching those intangibles from your employer.

Whatever the policy, it should be clear upon hiring and if "side" work is allowed, it should be out in the open for discussion, not discovered by chance.
Side work indicates there is a void in the market. Is the employee providing service on a day or time when you are closed? Are they going into new locations or maybe finding clients that don't fit your profile (i.e. credit risk, one time service, etc.). Do you incentivize your employees to find new clients? Are you paying top dollar or are you forcing employees to find other income to make ends meet? There is a lot going on here that goes beyond simply side work.
You have no choice, If key people want to do side work you need them. If you make it to hard for them they will eventually leave, then who won?...