Okay, I don’t want to make this too long, which is a struggle for me as I am very wordy, but let me share a scenario with you and ask how I can ethically deal with this.
For the last 4 years I have been washing windows and growing my business. I have only one real competitor in town. He has been quite off-putting to me from the start, delivering backhanded compliments left and right, “hey, let’s trade business cards, that way if I have too much business or you have a job you can’t handle we can trade”, or bumping into him on the street when he is with friends, he points to me and says “all the windows I don’t wash he washes”, etc etc it goes on and on.
For whatever reason, although he does mediocre work and acts like this, he is apparently a charmer with the ladies and still has a decent reputation (with most, not all, many know him to be slimy, and I have picked up many jobs due to him offending his customers by his unprofessional actions, like sending a bill when he hadn’t washed and such). 3 years ago he said “now let’s not be stepping on each other’s toes, there is plenty of business for all of us, I won’t step on yours if you don’t step on mine” I agreed as I have no intention of stealing another’s business on purpose, I’m not that kind of person, but he has, on multiple occasions, underbid me to steal a job. That all leads up to this last month.
A new business opened up across the street from the several business I wash there, some of which I have now that he used to. Because it was still freezing here and they weren’t going to open for a month, I went in and talked to them about doing their windows for opening day. They had been told by the neighboring businesses I wash that they should go with me, and the owner gave me the job without even asking for a price. As I was walking out, my competition walked out of the building next to me, another vacant building that someone is moving into in a few months. He told me that he had just gotten that job, that he was happy for me getting mine (I told him I had the job and he congratulated me) saying “that’s awesome, we’ll be neighbors!”.
Even though I had the deal done, I stopped in multiple times and talked to the owners sister who was setting up for opening day, and she said she would pass on whatever I needed to the owner. So opening week comes up and I call the owner to set up specific time and all that, but he doesn’t answer, so I head over to talk in person. As I’m walking up I realize that all the windows are clean. Inside, outside, and a wall of French windows inside. I go in, and the owners wife says “oh yeah, we gave the job to somebody else”. I’m thinking what the heck! So I leave, and later call the owner after I had cooled off to discuss it, at which point he tells me that three days after I talked to him, the other guy went in and talked to his WIFE, who gave him the job without talking to her husband, leaving me out to dry. I lost out on a $300 construction cleanup and a good route job. I’m talking to them today to try and get his business back and to set up a cross promotion with their store and my window washing, but I don’t have high hopes.
So yeah, tldr: I lost $800 dollars to my competition who sneaks behind my back to steal my jobs.
I don’t know whether to confront the guy, I don’t know whether to tell the owner the whole story, I don’t know whether to just ignore it, but it’s really gone too far and is really getting on my nerves. We live in a town of 20,000, so it’s tough getting enough business as it is without a another guy stealing jobs unethically. What should I do? Thanks all. So much for keeping it short, eh?