The client owned a massage therapy business. One of the client’s massage therapists quit and went to work at another spa, which was located a few miles from the client’s business. The client suspected the employee had taken several of her clients with him. The client wanted video of the employee entering and leaving the business, along with videos and license plates of the customers and vehicles entering the business and its adjacent parking lot.
The investigation became problematic, as the location was a large shopping plaza and poorly suited for surveillance. After a frustrating day trying to ascertain who was entering the spa, and with hundreds of vehicles entering and exiting the plaza, we discussed an alternate strategy with the client. We decided to send in a female investigator to ask for the therapist and to engage in conversation about his clients.
The investigator made an appointment for a massage with the former employee. After beginning the massage and engaging in some small talk, the investigator mentioned she had been referred by a mutual friend (who the client believed had gone with the former employee). The therapist quickly acknowledged that he had just recently left another spa and bragged that “most of my clients came with me because they hated her” (the client/employer). He continued on to provide a “laundry list” of all the things that were wrong at his former employer’s business.
After the massage, the investigator paid the employee a large tip and thanked him. The investigator prepared a report, which included the uncomplimentary comments by the former employee, and submitted it to the client’s attorney. The attorney issued a “cease and desist” letter to the former employee and the spa.
Result: The client achieved her main objective of penalizing her former employee. She also gained significant insight into her own business and possible improvements that needed to be made. She made changes in her own demeanor and within the business itself to improve its profitability and viability.
Sometimes former employees can provide a brutally honest assessment of the employer’s business.