Status Update: Don’t Sell to Me

Cover Story: Embracing Millennials - Cover Story: Embracing Millennials

Members of this information-hungry group have high customer service expectations and want to spend money with companies that “get” them.

October 17, 2016
Kristen Hampshire

If they can see it — then maybe they’ll believe it. Visual millennials are plugged in 24/7 and “friending” brands on social media. Before they fill out a contact form online or schedule service via a website (phone calls are getting old), they’ve done their homework on your pest control firm. What they find online shapes their opinions.

When you arrive at the door, expect lots of questions.

“Younger customers want to know what products you’re using, they want a copy of the contract so they can read it in advance,” says Chris Caire, vice president at DA Exterminating Co. in Metairie, La. “They’ll ask, ‘Is there a damage warranty? Can I see that?’”

Asking questions is a good thing, and how you field concerns and educate customers makes all the difference, Caire says. During one visit, a millennial homeowner said the previous pest control company that called on him seemed bothered by all of his questions. “I didn’t get a good feeling,” he told Caire.

Technicians and salespeople must be trained to do more than run through the standard procedure. Taking time to provide extra information is appreciated by millennial customers, Caire finds.

“If we find a new study about Formosan termites and the efficacy of a product that backs up what we tell them, we’ll bring that to share,” he says. “They like being educated and knowing about their options.”

Bringing iPads loaded with visual presentations to homes appeals to millennials, Caire says. “We’ll download some cool videos that explain (the product we use), so while technicians are inspecting the house they leave the iPad with the prospective customer. When they’re done, they ask, ‘Do you have any questions from what you just saw?’”

Of course how you market depends on where your market is located. For instance, Yellow Pages aren’t “dead” in Naples, Fla., with an older client base that will turn to the good ol’ book to find service providers, points out Cindy Mannes, executive director, Professional Pest Management Alliance (PPMA).

And baby boomers have the most spending money for services. They are using technology, though not to the extent of totally mobile millennials. According to the U.S. Census, Americans age 50 and older are responsible for 51 percent of all consumer spending. By 2017, they will control 70 percent of the country’s disposable income.

Still, with millennials beginning to purchase homes, they’ll need services like pest control. “We have to embrace technology,” Mannes says of the industry. “We have to embrace text messages, emails and online scheduling for service.” (See related article for innovative ways to reach millennials with your marketing efforts.)

And, remember that millennials do not automatically trust brands, including yours. “They grew up in a world where they have been marketed to their entire lives, and that makes them a little bit distrustful in terms of taking what a brand says about itself at face value,” says Devin Cathcart, marketing professional and account manager at Goldfarb Weber Creative Media in Cleveland, Ohio. “This is an audience that wants to hear about your brand from people they trust.”

The author is a frequent contributor to PCT.