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Recently, I had the pleasure of working with a contractor to replace a door. Once the new door was installed, the contractor came to me to show me that he had completed the work. During our inspection, I noted that there was a gap of about ¾-inch between the door and the frame, and that the threshold at the base of the door needed to be replaced due to damage. When I asked him about these issues, he responded, very kindly, that he was only hired to “hang the door.” “Hang the door?” I asked. What about the other issues that directly impact the functioning of the door? Aren’t these included with the service? Again, he kindly responded, “I was only hired to hang the door.” You can imagine what happened next.
The reason I am sharing this story is because it is all too familiar for all service-based firms, including pest management companies. A customer calls the office to cancel service; when asked why, the customer responds with, “Your technician told me they are only here to kill the bugs.” Is that all we do? Are we only there to kill the bugs? As a pest management professional, isn’t it our job to not only control the pests that are present, but also protect our customer’s property by working to reduce the potential for additional pest infestations? I, as most other pest professionals, would say yes! So the question that all of us should be asking is, “What can we do to add value to our service and separate ourselves from our competition?”
When I asked him about issues (with the door), he responded, very kindly, that he was only hired to “hang the door.” “Hang the door?” I asked. What about the other issues that directly impact the functioning of the door?
PROACTIVE PEST CONTROL. As I have mentioned in previous columns, the inspection is a great way to prevent future infestations, and it is a great way to identify additional services that the customer may need to keep their structure pest-free. Some of those additional services, such as the sealing of small cracks and crevices, should be included in your normal service offerings. But additional problems, such as moisture control, wildlife control and exclusion, are additional services that can be sold and provided to your customer. This is a great way for a pest management professional to become a “one-stop shop” for your customer, and prevent your competition from getting their feet in the door.
LEAVE NOTHING BUT FOOTPRINTS. Moving under homes to inspect the crawlspace, digging through the leaf litter in the gutters, or walking through the insulation in an attic, can be messy. In addition, the pest management professional may be required to drill into a concrete slab, cut holes or openings into walls, and even dig up landscaping to treat a structure. However, upon completion of these tasks, we should always be prepared to leave a customer’s home in the same condition, or better condition, than when we arrived.
Technicians always should be prepared by carrying the necessary tools and equipment needed to keep the home clean and repair any damage they may have caused. This may include using crawlsuits or coveralls when working in dirty areas and removing them prior to entering the home. Shoe covers are also a great way to protect a customer’s home from any debris that may be carried in on your shoes. It’s also a good practice to carry a garden rake to repair the landscaping, as well as a caulk gun, caulking and spackling to help fill any holes created during your treatment.
IMPROVING CUSTOMER COMMUNICATION. Customers who cancel service often report that one of the reasons for their cancellation is they “didn’t know what was done.” This lack of communication with the customer is a big deal, and one that can be easily fixed. As a pest management professional, it is important to communicate with your customer, even when they are not home. Any time you leave a customer’s location you should document at least three things. The first is what you did during today’s service. This lets the customer know exactly what you did, and it is especially important if they are not home to witness your service. You don’t have to write a novel, but a couple of sentences highlighting areas that you inspected and areas that you treated.
The second piece of information that you should communicate is what you saw during the service visit. This is a great opportunity to tell the customer about any sanitation or structural issues that you may have observed during your service. You can also let the customer know if there was any pest activity and how you treated those infestations. Develop a partnership with your customer in creating a successful pest management program.
Lastly, you should always let the customer know what to expect following your service. This may be a simple note detailing that they may see a few bugs for a couple of days following your treatment, or it may simply be a note letting them know when you will be returning for a follow-up service or next service. Let the customer know that you are there to do more than “kill the bugs.”
As for the door, the company has come back out to make the necessary repairs, but will not be doing any additional work.
CURRENT READER POLL
PCT keeps a pulse on the industry with timely Reader Poll questions. Below is the most recent question for pest management professionals at www.pctonline.com:
Compared to two years ago (2013), in 2015 did you receive more or fewer service calls for termites?
READER POLL RESULTS
Here’s a look at results from a recent Reader Poll:
Which best describes your company’s business outlook for 2016?
31% I’m anticipating a record sales year. Happy days are here again!
47% I’m anticipating modest growth. Cautious optimism.
10% I’m anticipating sales to be flat. Some good, some bad.
6% I’m anticipating an overall decline in sales. Pessimism reigns.
3% I’m anticipating the bottom to drop out of the market. More misery.
3% I don’t have a clue what’s going to happen. Ignorance is bliss.
Source: PCT Reader Poll December 2015
The PCT staff has been busy this past year reporting on pest control industry news. Here’s a look at the most downloaded news and videos/podcasts, as reported by Google Analytics.
Most downloaded news stories:
- Study Examines Bed Bug Movement Between Apartments
- Rentokil to Acquire Steritech
- Terminix Acquires Alterra Pest Control
- NPMA Advocates Congress to Raise Section 179 Business Property Deduction
- Scotts LawnService to Merge with TruGreen
- Edge Pest Control Named to Inc.’s Fastest Growing Private Companies
- African Ant Found in Connecticut Structure
- N.C. Woman Awarded $100,000 in Bed Bug Suit
- Label Training For a New Generation of PMPs
- EPA Proposes Stronger Pesticide Standards
Most downloaded podcasts and videos:
- Trap Shy Rodents
- Terminix’s ‘Mosquitonado’ Ad Campaign
- Bed Bug Dispersion in Hotel Rooms
- Jim Nase on Electronic Trap Monitoring
- Rethinking Rodent Bait Station Placement
- Reading the Signs
- Bobby Corrigan Documentary — Chapter 1
- Video: Ants are Solid-Like and Liquid-Like
- On the Trail of Troublesome Rodents
- Bruce Carter on Ant Management
At NPMA PestWorld in October, PCT filmed videos from many of the pest control industry’s leading manufacturers. These informative videos featured the latest product developments at these companies, including new product introductions and enhancements to existing products. PCT has been posting these videos to our website. Click on the Media tab on PCT Online, or http://bit.ly/1LML7c3 to access the videos.
More than 550 owners and senior managers of pest management companies participated in the 2015 PCT-NPMA Compensation and Benefits Survey.
Most respondents (22 percent) had gross revenue of $1 million to $4.9 million last year, followed closely by revenue of less than $100,000 (21 percent) and $100,000 to $250,000 (19 percent). Income was split among residential (60 percent), commercial (35 percent) and other (5 percent) accounts.
According to the survey, pest management companies were in business an average of 23 years and operate in the Southeast (24 percent), Great Lakes and Plains region (19 percent), Southwest (16 percent), Mid-Atlantic (15 percent), Far West (13 percent), New England (5 percent), Rocky Mountain region (3 percent), Canada (8 percent) and outside the U.S. and Canada (1 percent).
More than 80 percent said they employ 1 to 19 employees. Nearly three-fourths of companies are members of NPMA.
In November, 200-year-old letters, banknotes worth a small fortune, calendar pages and other fascinating scraps were found during renovation work on the Cathedral of the Assumption in Zvenigorod, just outside of Moscow.
As reported in RT.com, the surprising discovery was made when builders began clearing away hundreds of birds’ nests that had accumulated under the cathedral’s roof. Evidently, birds had been picking up scraps of paper for centuries to use as building material for their homes.
“The oldest documents probably come from the 1830s, when the roof was replaced,” Dmitriy Sedov from the Zvenigorod Museum told Russian media.
The Cathedral of the Assumption in Zvenigorod was built in the early 15th century. It is known for its frescos by Russia’s greatest medieval painter Andrei Rublev. One of the banknotes found was for 1,000 rubles, a fortune back then.
Great Scott! Dueling “Back to the Future” Covers
The PCT staff are huge fans of the 1985 movie “Back to the Future.” As such, we liked the British Pest Control Association magazine’s November cover. The BPCA went with the “Back to the Future” theme for a forward-looking story in which BPCA Chief Executive Simon Forrester interviewed a trio of industry professionals to get their perspective on what’s changed and what’s in store for the UK’s pest control industry. Cheers to Forrester and his team for a fun cover and informative cover story.
PCT tried a similar concept with our November 2005 cover, although our take was a bit different. If you’ll recall, 2005 was when bed bugs really began to re-establish themselves in the U.S. Also during this time, some PCOs were reporting cockroach baiting failures. These developments caused many PCOs to re-examine older, “tried-and-true” pest control methods and techniques. We took the opportunity to marry pest control and popular culture — it was 1.21 gigawatts-worth of fun! — Brad Harbison
Female Cockroaches Prefer Fit Mating Partners
A new study led by Dr. Sophie Mowles of Anglia Ruskin University shows how energetic courtship displays of male Cuban burrowing cockroaches attract female partners, Sci-News.com reports.
Male Cuban burrowing cockroaches (Byrsotria fumigata) perform a “wing-raising” ritual to attract a female, which involves the repeated vertical flaring and lowering of their wings.
Mowles and her colleague, Dr. Natalie Jepson of the University of Nottingham, found males that produced the most energetic displays were more likely to attract a female.
In fact, males that did attract a mate performed the wing-raising on average four times more vigorously as the ones that didn’t.