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What to Do If You Are Asked to Sign a Non-Compete Agreement

February 15th, 2018

Allen in Florida says:

I’ve been working for Circlepix for about three years. They were a nice company to work for. I’m wondering how VHT buying Circlepix will change things.

Before I started with them, I was doing my own and just not getting enough business. I still have those clients and of course, I make much more money doing the privates. The non-compete clause is troublesome for me. I’m not giving up my privates under any circumstances. I just need/want more clients.

I would recommend that you read the recent PFRE post on the VHT takeover of CirclePix where several people who work for VHT as well as Brian Balduf, the co-founder of VHT commented on the post.

On the subject of non-competes, I just found this great YouTube video explaining what to do before and if you sign a non-compete agreement. My understanding is that non-competes are not enforceable in some states like California but apparently, they are enforceable in Florida.

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9 Responses to “What to Do If You Are Asked to Sign a Non-Compete Agreement”

  • This isn’t rocket science so I am frustrated with those that go into a contract knowing full well what is expected of them when they sign, then turn around and complain about it. Some think they can enter into these agreements and then poach the clients that are sent to them…. There is a price to pay to garner work without effort on their part, yet they do not see that….interesting. Do Millennial’s come to mind? If they need more clients, then get off their butt and work for it. Signing up with a National firm that pays pennies may get you more work, but in the end, if your lucky, your only making enough to cover your CODB.

    Bottom Line…Don’t sign.

    Now, What are you going to do when you get some agent claiming you have to now sign a CAR “Property Images Agreement” (Basically saying that you sign over all rights to any and all images you produce for them). Again, use your common sense and politely tell them to roll up that document and Shove it up their A..

    So, in the end, You control what happens when someone asks you to sign this or that….

    First thing to say when confronted with that kind of doc is “let me look into this” and then get some legal advice

  • What are you doing to get clients as an independent business person. Real Estate photography marketing is not that tricky – i’m in the middle of doing that as several important clients have just retired.

    1. Have a decent website & good content that shows what a great photographer you are 🙂
    2. Have a postcard sized business card
    3. Go to all the open houses you can with your postcards and introduce yourself – nothing like face to face and most agents are friendly.
    4. Look who has current listings and call them – introduce yourself and offer your services and ask if you can email them samples, fee structure, what
    services you offer and link to your website. Follow up the emails with another call several days later.
    5. Ask current clients if you can use them as referrals – call the other realtors in their offices first (your clients may give you referrals to their realtor friends/colleagues).
    6. Use social media (something i’ve been lazy about but am getting to).
    7. If you do your own editing learn Scott Hargis system of lighting to ‘get it in the camera’ vs time intensive editing/HDR so you can shoot every day & have a life at night.

    Work for yourself – if you are reliable, trustworthy, and do good work there is no reason to work for peanuts for another company.
    I’m sure everyone here has lots of other great marketing ideas that work – these are just a few that I’ve learned from others.

    Never sign a non compete agreement.

  • Are you asking for permission? You want to be independent but are unwilling to take the risk. You are a worker bee, an employee and probably a very good one. You are NOT an entrepreneur, a risk taker. Now there are many circumstances in our lives that dictate who and what we are and this is one of them. Sign the non compete, give up your existing clients and collect a paycheck. OR prove me wrong. Don’t try to play both sides though, there’s no glory in being a fool.

    Just to set the record straight, I have great respect for worker bee’s, I’m even married to one.

  • I have a friend in Florida that specializes in non-compete law. Here’s a link to his site: https://www.pollardllc.com/

    Not saying that you have need for a lawyer, but he has good resources on his website on the topic.

  • When they start demanding, it is obvious that I don’t want them as a client, as usually, those demands are only the start. Since I won’t have them as a client, I don’t have to be courteous giving in, but can be courteously blunt. I’m not a newbie (even if I am), but very successful, in demand as you have seen the quality of my work and non-competes are not part of my business plan. Period. When you are ready to join the ranks of my elite clientele, give me a call…and walk away. It is kind of second nature for me as my first profession was as a mental health clinician and got a lot of practice setting bounds some of the patients in group therapy were some of the best manipulators you would ever see.

  • Very early on I was asked to sign an employment contract after I had been working at a company for a while. One clause was a non-compete and I think that it was brought on by a co-worker that was moonlighting and then left to open his own company. I had a friend that was an attorney and had him look over the contract. I was told that in California a non-compete clause was not likely to be upheld against a fairly low level employee since it becomes more akin to slavery if you can’t leave your current employer for another doing the same or similar work as that’s what you are good at, have studied in college and where your work has the most value.

    I found out much later that a non-compete is likely to be upheld in the case of the sale of a company where the principals are asked to refrain from opening a new competing firm. Laws can change at any time and they vary from state to state, so it’s good to get legal advice to know where you might stand. The company hiring you likely had a lawyer draft the employment contract and it a certainty that it was done to favor that company so it’s worth having a lawyer on your side that can tell you how bad it is.

    Don’t assume that the non-compete clause is the worst thing in the contract. Items such as indemnity, rights ownership and payment terms can be just as bad or even worse. I talked to a person at one company that told me they pay photographers every two weeks and the contract they sent stated terms of 90 day net. The written contract is the final word, so don’t give any credence to what you are told. The same company had a drug-free policy, which is fine, but they required an independent contractor to provide a “sample” within a few hours of being asked. In my area, that could mean half of a day or more where I might already be on a job or have outside work scheduled. What they didn’t guarantee was any work at all or compensation for visiting a clinic when required. The contract was a “take it or leave it” proposition. I left it. It’s pretty rare to find a good contract that you aren’t creating yourself with your own attorney. If the one you are presented with smells bad and they won’t negotiate anything, walk away.

  • All of the advice above is incredibly good. There are services coming out that, I believe, are going to turn the tables in favor of independent real estate photographers.

  • Non-compete agreements in California are void – a very interesting read from https://www.rhdtlaw.com/job-hopping-california-right/:

    “In California, non-compete agreements are void, regardless of whether they are “reasonable.” Employers can be held liable for firing or refusing to hire an employee for not agreeing to sign a non-compete agreement, and an employer who seeks to enforce a non-compete against a former employee can be held liable for interfering with the employee’s contractual relations with the new employer.”

  • …although there are some exceptions noted in the post.

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