E-learning is more efficient and cost effective than traditional classroom learning, and helps retain employees. Training increases technical proficiency, particularly important as products, equipment, regulations, and certifications frequently change in the pest control industry.
“You’re either improving as a company or you are digressing. If you’re not training regularly, you’re digressing. It’s important to have training on different subjects, such as new products, application techniques, regulatory changes, and pest identification,” explained Ben Downard, president, Action Pest Services, Greenville, S.C. “There are a lot of ramifications if you’re not training technicians and keeping them up-to-date—misapplication of product, telling customers incorrect information, and legal issues.” He also believes technicians’ professionalism suffers without regular training.
ProTraining, an online platform developed by Univar, hosts more than 300 classes in four categories: technical; business and safety; supplier-provided; and, a recently added category, PCT label training. Courses are diverse, covering subjects from technical, pest-specific topics, driver training, and safety, to sales and business skills, and achieving personal productivity.
“I use ProTraining to train new hires—those unfamiliar with our industry—it’s really effective,” said Debbie Scott, director of safety and education, Advanced Integrated Pest Management, Roseville, Calif. “The courses cover the basics, such as how to read labels and how to use insecticides. There are different videos that are good for those who don’t know the business.”
“Training is number one for our company. It’s our top priority. We go over information, especially with regard to pesticide handling. We use it for continuing education, for technicians to get the credits they need, and to prep new hires for taking their test to be pesticide applicators,” said Cindy Schacht, manager/supervisor, Area Wide Exterminators, Stockton, Calif. In addition to monthly training meetings, the company also annually hosts a Univar trainer for on-site training.
According to Bobby Perry, direction of operations, Icon Pest Prevention, McKinney, Texas, Icon takes training very seriously and considers it to be extremely important to the company. We will use a ProTraining course each month during product pick up or use it to develop our own training specific to the needs of our region.”
He sees the value of ProTraning for new, as well as experienced technicians. “Now, when we have a new hire, we put them through ProTraining classes along with internal training to prepare technicians for state certification.” The pest-focused courses are used as a refresher to “reintroduce” specific pests to technicians, “even if they’re very experienced.” He also uses the online training to supplement face-to-face, classroom training during monthly meetings by watching and reviewing a course as a group.
Tami Stuparich, ACE, co-owner, California American Exterminators, Boulder Creek, Calif., shared that she’s been in the pest control industry for more than 35 years and has a number of licenses and certifications. “I still find valuable information when I take one of the ProTraining online classes. I use it for continuing education. It’s easy to use if I’m a few hours short for my state licenses renewals.” She went on to say that it’s the only online training program she uses for taking California-approved continuing education courses. She’s confident the information is accurate and up-to-date.
“ProTraining provides current, detailed information and it’s well presented. It’s important to reevaluate procedures and protocols to keep current with changing industry and regulatory standards,” said Stuparich. “The quality of ProTraining is so good that when my techs or I take a class we walk away with so much useful information. I took a class on mites recently and got a lot of new information and was able to use it the next day.”
Training supports customer service, professionalism, company growth
Superior technical expertise and a high level of professionalism are key to the growth and success of every business. Training supports both.
“I believe ProTraining has helped our company grow. The more knowledge you have when you’re in the field the better. You can answer customers’ questions. When our technicians know what they’re talking about, it’s going to help grow our business,” said Schacht.
Stuparich added that “having well educated technicians provides a really high level of professionalism and customer service, which is a reflection of not only our company but of the entire industry.”
Perry equates training to increased revenue. “We gain dollars through monthly training. When my team is out there with customers, they can explain to them the specific biology of the pest that they’ve learned through internal training or a ProTraining course. Rather than telling the customer that they need $500 in ant treatment, the customer has a better understanding of what the guys are doing and that we’re not trying to nickel and dime them. It’s educating customers. It’s a higher level of customer service. We’re trained professionals.”