For the last 21 years, Sean Young has been a steadying force at HomeTeam Pest Defense’s Houston office, consistently exceeding customer expectations while growing his route by acquiring new customers.
"While his first priority is to service his existing clients, Sean consistently generates more than $30,000 a year in new business for the company. This is on target with some of our full time sales people," said Home-Team Pest Defense District Manager Ron Winslow. "Sean gains this new business through customer referrals and occasional weekend and evening sales calls."
And while Young has been busy making sales and providing standout customer service, he’s taken the time to give back to the company by training and mentoring newer service professionals. It’s for these accomplishments that Young is PCT’s 2009 Termite Technician of the Year.
EARLY YEARS. One of the reasons Young has excelled at sales is his background. Prior to pest control, Young had several professional pursuits, including a stint selling and servicing copy machines. He also held a job in which he sold and serviced tanning beds. In 1988, Young was looking for a change and came across a job listing at his church — The First Baptist Church of Houston — for an opening at Rodgers Pest Control. "Having some sales background this looked like a good opportunity for me," Young recalled.
Young quickly acclimated himself to the profession and found it a good fit. "With Rodgers I was mainly servicing apartments; then I moved into sales, then telemarketing to build up residential routes," Young said. "I did a lot of selling service contracts to keep those customers."
In 1997, Rodgers Pest Control was purchased by HomeTeam, which retained Young. "I recognized that HomeTeam was a good company and that there would be good opportunities in the Houston area," he said.
KEYS TO SUCCESS. Young credits his success to his ability to observe and communicate. For example, he’s gained a reputation as a top-notch inspector. "You’re looking for conducive conditions — standing water around a house, fence lines and wood meeting a house, high soil, water damage, and checking sheetrock and baseboard areas," Young says, in response to a question about what he thinks are the keys to a good inspection.
One of the things that has made a positive impression on HomeTeam Houston Branch Manager Mohammed Nadeem is Young’s desire to seek additional education. "He is constantly studying, taking books home from the office and he’s attended more than 90 percent of the Houston Pest Control Association’s training programs," said Nadeem.
The other key to his success is customer communication. "The job is not just about showing up with your sprayer, collecting your money and leaving. I work at customer communication, taking good notes, having (customers) show me the problem areas and keeping in touch with them with follow up phone calls and visits."
What really separates Young from other service professionals is his ability to sell, which he attributes to relationship building. In other words, Young has gained the trust and confidence of his customers, who in turn are more receptive to his pest control suggestions. The numbers don’t lie when it comes to Young’s sales prowess. In 2008, he completed 3,829 services, generating $260,000 in revenue. "Our team has to reassess the branch routes because by the end of each quarter, Sean has grown his route over our normal 650-700 client maximum," said Winslow.
As Young explains, "I’ve tried to keep my eyes open for opportunities to sell general pest control services to those already getting termite services or to sell termite control services to those getting general pest control services."
An example of Young’s relationship-building abilities is the fact that some of his customers have become friends. "On a Saturday I had an elderly customer call and ask if I was in the area. She told me the smoke detectors were going off (because of dead batteries) and she needed someone to turn them off before going to church. So, I stopped over and helped change the batteries."
Adds Nadeem, "Our branch receives more compliment calls and letters on Sean than any other employee."
EVOLVING ROLE. As Young’s reputation has continued to grow, so too has his route. "Sean is able to grow his customer base and keep them very happy at the same time," Nadeem says. "His retention rate is 86 percent when the average retention rate in the pest management industry is much lower."
Despite this busy schedule Young always is available to pass on his knowledge and passion for the business to new technicians. He assists the branch in training new technicians and coaches them on selling and customer satisfaction.
"I’ll take them out...and show them how to make good notes (on their paperwork)," Young said. "I’ll show them how to do a good inspection inside and outside. But it all goes back to communication. That is the key to good customer relations."
Nadeem is among those who appreciate Young’s leadership abilities. "New employees (at HomeTeam) go through an observation period and we like to send them out with Sean and the reason for that is he delivers service right to the ‘T.’ We want new employees to see what good service looks like and there is no better person than Sean when it comes to interacting with customers."
Young is excited about how his role will evolve at HomeTeam, which was acquired by Rollins in 2008. "It’s been great to have an honest career and being loyal to the same company for so long is something to be proud of, but really my biggest career accomplishment is taking care of my customers as best as possible for all these years."
At home and ‘in sneakers’
Throughout his career at HomeTeam Pest Defense, Sean Young has achieved both personal and professional milestones.
While working for Rodgers Pest Control, Sean met his future wife, Melissa, when she showed up at Rodgers Pest Control for a job interview. Sean and Melissa have been married for 11 years and are parents to Hunter (age 8) and Cole (5). Young has served as a volunteer baseball coach and also volunteers his time for his church.
Young also is an avid runner and cyclist. He’s competed in 35-plus marathons and this past year he competed in the Houston MS 150 (from Houston to Austin), a 150-mile bike race to benefit multiple sclerosis. Young even ascended the top of Pike’s Peak. "Like most guys, I also enjoy watching football," said Young, whose favorite teams include the Texas Longhorns and Houston Texans.
Sean Young is well respected by his customers. Here’s a sampling of customer comments.
"Sean is a great representation of your company. If we ever have any issues, Sean is always willing to rectify them promptly. He is cordial and courteous and presents exemplary customer service. He is a role model for the perfect ‘Bug Man.’" — a Houston area resident
"I wanted to tell you how appreciative my family is for the service and professionalism of Sean Young. He has been servicing our home for several years and he is always very helpful. Sean answers any questions we have, is very flexible in working with our schedule and he is always prompt. I feel that HomeTeam Pest Defense is very lucky to have an employee like Sean, and he is the reason we have stayed with your company all of these years." — a Houston area resident
The author is Internet editor of PCT.