Peer Reviews

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Here’s how some of your peers are handling labor savings now.

November 7, 2022

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Pest management professionals shared six ways they are increasing productivity and efficiency at their companies.

1. Honing the Workflow. According to the PCT survey, 40 percent of PMPs said improved internal systems, processes and procedures affected productivity and efficiency at their companies in the past 12 months.

For many PMPs, this involved identifying bottlenecks and finding ways to streamline functions across the business, both in the field and the office. They streamlined how technicians approach service work and how payment is collected. They went paperless and automated administrative tasks and data entry, giving office staff more time to engage with customers.

Training was important, with 27 percent of PMPs surveyed saying improved training affected their company’s productivity and efficiency.

At Quality Pest Control, training focused mostly on helping office staff use routing software and sharpening their customer service skills. Calls were recorded and scored by a third-party company, providing “teachable, trainable moments,” said Carl Braun, the company’s owner. The result? More effective call handling and a higher sales closing rate.

2. Optimizing Routes. Well-planned routes are more efficient and profitable. “Windshield time doesn’t make you any money,” reminded Daniel Shank, owner of Broken Arrow Pest Control, Livingston, Texas.

Software programs organize routes to reduce drive time between accounts. They schedule jobs and ensure technicians aren’t crisscrossing paths, wasting time and fuel. While programs do the heavy lifting, PMPs said they still tweak routes manually for greater efficiency.

The software used by Broken Arrow Pest Control has enabled technicians to run more stops per day, put fewer miles on service vehicles and complete work faster so they can get home earlier.

As well, technicians earn more money when routes are optimized. “If your employees’ productivity is up, their pay is up, so it’s a win-win all the way around,” said Jennifer Leggett, owner of Lindsey Pest Services in Jacksonville, Fla.

Thirty percent of PMPs said software and technology affected productivity and efficiency at their companies, found the PCT survey.

3. Increasing Route Density. Having more accounts within a territory means less driving between stops. This is a major focus of Israel Alvarez, owner of Insight Pest Management, who “shifted from a bigger footprint to a denser footprint” in his Southern California market.

He moved marketing dollars aimed at central Los Angeles to Ventura County, which is closer to his office. He also ended acquisition talks with a company on his territory edge, reigniting talks with one located in the center of his territory.

Quality Pest Control made a similar move. Instead of continuing to cast a wide net in the sprawling Omaha market, it now develops routes in nine top-producing ZIP codes. “We’ve spent the majority of our marketing dollars, as far as paid advertising goes, focusing in on those ZIP codes and that has helped us build our density. It was a pretty efficient way to do it for us,” said Braun.

PMPs also were creating networks with companies to give and get referral work that falls outside tighter service areas.

4. Improving Lead Conversion. The goal of Eco-Tech Pest Control in Niles, Ill., is to be more efficient at turning leads into sales.

“Google ads are costing so much more money nowadays versus before. Every lead is very important, and it has got to be converted,” said Jim Stavropoulos, president of the company.

Two years ago, his team created a software program to track lead costs and the actual revenue generated from digital ads (not just conversion click-thrus and impressions). This helps him spend online marketing dollars more efficiently.

The program integrates with other software, reducing data entry and making it easier to analyze data. When customers call, a single screen pops up with account details and history, saving time. It also has pest-specific scripts to help office staff quickly close sales with prospects.

Creating the software was worth it. “Ever since we did that, it’s been much better sales, much better conversions and specific to reoccurring services, which we’re trying to push,” said Stavropoulos.

5. Making Up Missed Stops and Re-Services. If service isn’t performed at a stop, for whatever reason, money can’t be collected.

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“I don’t want to miss any of those. That’s money in the bank,” said Bob Wiemer, executive general manager of Pestco Professional Services in Pittsburgh, Pa., and Enviro-Master industrial hygiene services in Pittsburgh and Cleveland, Ohio. He now has one person tasked with rescheduling missed stops (and optimizing routes) every single day, so these stops aren’t forgotten and lost in the system.

“You really have to capture those stops in the day and make sure you know where they went,” he said.

Also costly are re-service calls for quarterly customers who report pest issues, such as sudden ant problems. Instead of attending to these calls immediately, Alvarez now tries to package them with paying stops. This way, technicians can generate revenue on the way to the re-service and back. So far, customers have been understanding.

“In normal times, we wouldn’t hesitate at all just to dispatch somebody out there and set the expectation for immediate re-service, whereas now there’s a little bit more work to it,” he said.

6. Improving Communication. According to the PCT survey, 27 percent of PMPs said better communication with employees about productivity goals had an impact on the company’s productivity and efficiency.

Lindsey Pest Services does this with weekly employee meetings. “That helps everybody to know that they’re on track, and we’re on track, and where we’re at,” said Leggett.

Overall communication improved between office and field staff when the company moved to the Microsoft Teams platform last year. The platform’s email, chat group, video and phone apps help the company communicate goals and reinforce the culture, vision and values of the business.

“We’re better suited to react to issues. When you have the communication and no one’s in the dark, it is a much happier team,” said Leggett.

Email and texting also made customer communication more efficient, said PMPs.