If they want to leave, let them Featured

9:45am EDT July 22, 2002

Noncompete agreements don’t appeal to Mike Moran. They never have.

And despite being in the highly competitive computer consulting business, Moran, president of Affiliated Resource Group, has found his dislike for such legal restrictions to be a competitive advantage in recruiting top-notch technical workers.

That, in turn, has helped him boost sales at his Dublin-based company from $400,000 to $5 million in six years.

Moran credits national consultant, speaker and author John Haskell with helping to show him the hidden value in not using noncompetes.

According to Moran, Affiliated has always had low employee turnover, but in 1997, the company started having trouble hiring the mid-level people it needed to keep the business growing. Moran turned to Haskell, known as “Dr. Revenue,” whom Moran met at a 1995 conference hosted by Inc. magazine.

Haskell helped Affiliated’s management realize the firm needed a pipeline to provide new employees just as much as it needed one to provide new clients. After all, Affiliated doesn’t sell a product, it sells a service, so to keep the company growing, it needs to hire top-notch technical people.

Haskell suggested Affiliated’s management talk to its employees to find out what kept them working at Affiliated in a competitive job market.

As Moran explains it, that helped shine the light on the key: The company doesn’t have a noncompete clause; just about every other computer consulting firm does. Affiliated has never had one, Moran says, because he follows the golden rule — he treats his 55 employees the way he wants to be treated — and provides workers with good compensation, training and opportunities. That way, they want to stay.

And if they ever decide to leave, a relationship of trust has been established.

“Today’s employee could be tomorrow’s client,” Moran says.

Affiliated’s strategy of bucking the noncompete industry trend was compelling enough for Haskell to include a brief write-up of it in his latest book, “Profit Rx,” which was released last year.

“He’s a great help, a problem solver,” Moran says of Haskell. “He gives us the few extra degrees of focus to make us successful. He makes us a better company.”

Richard Spencer (rspencer@donet.com) is a free-lance writer for SBN.