In the day to day struggle to get and maintain business, building a solid customer base with a loyal following is expensive and time consuming.  Most of us have been through some ups and downs over the last five years.  This effort to recruit and retain customers has to come from every direction within a company.  Sometimes it’s easy to overlook little things that can be damaging to the very heart of your existence.  One of the things we occasionally forget about is confidentiality / non-disclosure agreements.

It’s important to discuss the confidentiality / non-disclosure agreements you sign for customers with your employees, especially the ones involved in the manufacturing of products or services for that customer.  Employees should know, and be reminded periodically, to not talk about job or customer specifics to anyone, regardless of whether there is an agreement or not.  Even if it’s at the fence with the neighbors in the evening.  Once spoken, the words are out there, and you’ll never know about a conversation getting back to the wrong place or person.  Remind your employees it could be the very work they perform on a regular basis that could be at stake.  It’s also very important to not discuss information about customers to your POTENTIAL customers for any reason.  Making comparisons for sales purposes could likely eliminate a good opportunity.  If a customer requests confidential information, decline to inform and you’ll be respected for it.  This could simply be a loyalty check!

Keep your shop clean from customer documents and other information sitting out in the open.  If you’re like us, you frequently have potential customers, sales people, maintenance people, and truck drivers in your facility.  Be aware…any one of these could end up as a “hole in your boat!”

  • Potential and Existing Customers:  They are likely competition for (other) existing customers!  Noticeable open information could sour their considerations in doing business with you.  Visible documents would also make them aware you lack good confidentiality practices.
  • Sales People:  The ones that brag to you about how much they know of your competition are probably also…you guessed it…talking to your competition about you!  A good salesperson usually has eagle eyes and elephant ears, allowing them to inhale information within a 100 foot radius.  Don’t feed the animals!
  • Maintenance People:  If they’re working on a machine tool or other equipment in your shop, they probably also know who else has the same equipment with the same customer prospects in their sights!  Make sure they have a specific area in which to work and a go-to person for anything needed.  This will help eliminate any of that wandering around looking for a…whatchamacallit!
  • Truck Drivers (my favorite):  If you want to know anything about anything, just ask a driver.  They know who’s busy, who’s slow, and who’s doing what for whom (including how many and how often)!  If you’re ever in need of information you can’t find anywhere, ask a driver.  If they don’t know, they’ll know who does.  Be aware…be VERY aware!

Be vigilant and periodically review confidentiality / non-disclosure agreements with your employees, especially new hires.  This will help in protecting your customers and most of all, your company!