For some pest control companies, working with property managers and performing pest control in apartments is not a potentially profitable prospect. But for Environmental Pest Management (EPM), Columbus, Ohio, property management accounts represent a bright future for the nine-year-old company.
When Jason Carpenter, CEO of EPM, was referred by one of his clients to service a large apartment complex, he solved pest problems that its previous pest control company was unable to solve. In 2006, Carpenter began work on a web-based software tool that would make life easier for both his company and its clients, which came to fruition 2008 in the form of his On-Line Work Order System.
“Our biggest client gave us a glowing testimonial as to why they continue to do business with us, and it all revolved around the software,” Carpenter said. “Contracts are lost because of little or no communication with the client. The average property management company stays with a pest control company about two years. We have not lost a single account since we developed the software.”
Four years ago, EPM serviced no property management accounts. Today, 75 percent of revenue comes from that segment. The company has contracts with enough property management companies to account for more than 26,000 individual apartment units throughout the Columbus area.
Easier Everything. EPM’s technicians are outfitted with iPads in order to facilitate easier sales, quotes, communication and follow up with clients via the company’s custom software. Carpenter says the iPads also heighten customers’ perception of professionalism.
“They are impressed with the ability to sign with their finger on the iPad,” he said. “We are able to save the ‘client story’ as a digital file so that there are no miscommunications. I can do a termite estimate on the iPad in five minutes, whereas before it took me 30. I used to drag around a leather pad-folio and a clipboard loaded with paperwork. Now I just carry my iPad and iPhone and I can do five times as much work.”
The On-line Work Order System also utilizes layouts and renderings of residential complexes, which Carpenter says allows property managers to be proactive when requesting service. If a resident reports a pest problem, owners can figure out where problem units are located in the building and curb the spread of infestation.
The Difference Maker. Carpenter says his company differentiates itself from others by making vital information available to customers at any time of day through the online system. He said the system also facilitates better communication between different parties. “One of the most challenging aspects of property management clients is getting their cooperation with suggestions we make. The software virtually eliminates that problem because copies of reports go to the property manager, his boss and his boss’ boss.”
Carpenter says his technology also helped his company become more efficient, and thus more profitable. According to the 2010 NPMA Business Development Operating Ratio Survey, the average revenue per full-time employee (including CSRs, office staff, etc.) for companies that earned between $1-2 million in sales was $80,925. EPM reports that for its firm, the average is $225,000 per technician because of time saved.
Carpenter is now marketing his software to other industries, such as HVAC, electricians, plumbers, lawn care and other service industries, under Work Flow Elite (www.workflowelite.com) “There’s no reason this can’t be adapted to other industries,” he said.