Resolving Conflicts with Neighboring Businesses

Resolving Conflicts with Neighboring Businesses

No matter where you live, you’ve probably noticed that businesses are often crammed into tiny shopping centers with nothing but a paper-thin wall to separate them. Just like residents of your community probably have spats with their neighbors, businesses often run into conflicts with neighboring businesses. Whether it’s over the music played or the type of clientele or the lack of parking space, a good entrepreneur must know how to resolve conflicts with their neighbors.

Resolving Conflicts with Neighboring Businesses: Give a Friendly Heads’ Up

Just like you probably wouldn’t run right to the home owners’ association in your neighborhood just because your neighbor has too many pets, you probably shouldn’t contact your lawyer immediately following the discovery of a problem with a neighboring business. Instead, pay the owner a visit and politely explain your concerns. Prepare for he or she to get defensive or to be outright hostile – that isn’t your concern. Your only objective is to lay the facts on the table and to gauge the response of your neighbor.

Resolving Conflicts with Neighboring Businesses: Pursue Any Alternate Solutions

If there is a way to resolve the dispute without involving your lawyer, try that first. Remember that you might be neighbors with the other business for the next twenty years, and burning bridges isn’t in your best interest. You might need a favor one day, and if you’ve involved them in litigation, that person’s help will no longer be available. So instead of marching right down to your lawyer’s office, think of ways you can amicably solve the problem. For example, if your neighbor is an electonics store owner and he or she continues to play loud music from the top-selling boom box, consider offering a compromise. If they turn down the music, you’ll pass out flyers for their store from your counter.

Resolving Conflicts with Neighboring Businesses: Write a Letter

If your previous attempts to resolve the conflict have been met with resistence, you’ll have to step it up a notch. Write a letter explaining your complaint and mail it to your neighboring business. You could just walk it over and leave it with an employee, but mailing it is more professional and formal. Explain that you don’t want to involve your lawyer, but that if the neighboring business owner is not willing to discuss the matter further, you will have to pursue legal action. Close by saying that you will be happy to arrange a meeting at his or her convenience. Give the neighboring business owner 10-30 days to respond before taking any other steps toward conflict resolution.

Resolving Conflicts with Neighboring Businesses: Consider Mediation

I mentioned above that it is never a good idea to burn bridges, and that is true. Even if your neighboring business is doing something ridiculously obnoxious, the two of you are right next door to one another and a fued could be mutually catastrophic. If other avenues of conflict resolution have not worked, consider mediation. Your lawyer can recommend an experienced mediator and it keeps your dispute out of the court system. This way, you have an intervening third party without the consequences of a civil suit.

Resolving Conflicts with Neighboring Businesses: Illegal Activities

If you are bothered by your neighboring business not because of a petty dispute, but because of some illegal activity, your best bet is to call the police. Don’t follow any of the advice above because your business’s reputation is not worth the price you will pay if you are named as a co-conspirator in illegal activity. Instead, let the authorities handle it and stay at a distance so as not to implicate yourself.

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