By Brad Harbison
What makes Massey Services’ Danielle Whitley, PCT’s 2016 Residential Technician of the Year, so special is that she recognizes that, at its core, pest control is not really a bug business — it is a people business.
For the last 16 years, Whitley has proven adept at solving challenging pest problems while never losing sight that her real job is to take care of her customers, whatever that might entail.
“Danielle’s attitude and care is outstanding and her smile and laughter is infectious,” said Ed Dougherty, executive vice president and COO, Massey Services. “Our customers look forward to her service visits and are confident she will go above and beyond her responsibilities to assist them.”
There are numerous examples of Whitley’s signature service, a recent one being her assistance in helping a mobility-challenged, elderly woman prepare her house for a flea treatment. “Without any hesitation or request from the customer, Danielle helped the customer clean and vacuum her home in preparation for the treatment so it would be ready to go,” said Dougherty.
For these and other reasons, Whitley has become a go-to technician at Massey Services, depended on by customers and co-workers alike.
A NATURAL FIT. In many ways, a career in pest control makes sense for Whitley. The Central Florida native who grew up with three brothers developed a love for the outdoors, especially working with animals.
She credits her stepdad, who owned a business specializing in the construction of pool enclosures, and her biological father, who worked for UPS, for instilling in her a strong work ethic.
Whitley’s love for animals led her to an interest in becoming a veterinarian. While pursuing this career goal, Whitley took on jobs to pay her way through college. Prior to coming to Massey Services, she worked in the water department for the city of Tavares, Fla., performing manual labor.
In 2001, Whitley responded to an online ad for a customer service representative (CSR) at Massey Services. “I was answering phones and hearing people’s problems and I wanted to get out in the field and help them myself,” Whitley said. “I’m an on-the-go type of person and wanted to get into an outside position.”
PERSONALIZING SERVICE. While transitioning from a CSR to a technician, Whitley quickly got herself up to speed, displaying a willingness to learn and becoming extremely knowledgeable about pest pressures that occur in her service area.
The customer service aspect of the job comes naturally to Whitley. Said Dougherty, “She focuses on delivering service excellence for customers and relentlessly works to understand why a certain pest issue has occurred and how she can prevent it. She advises customers on all aspects of the problem and communicates what she is going to do to eliminate the problem. As a result, her customers trust her expertise and know they can depend on her.”
Whitley’s advice for becoming a good residential technician is simple. “You have to build a rapport with your customers. I’ve had my same customers for the entire time I’ve been with Massey Services. There are Massey service centers closer to my house, but I drive extra miles [to my service center]. I don’t want to leave my customers because they are my family.”
Whitley is kept busy year-round with Florida’s constant pest pressures. White-footed ants are a particular problem in her service area and she says bed bugs are on the rise. “We also get a lot of service requests for yellow jackets and I do all of those jobs, too.”
As Whitley’s career at Massey Services has advanced, she has taken on more leadership roles and has excelled at mentoring newer technicians. “Danielle sets a great example for all team members, especially our technicians, with her unyielding commitment to providing total customer satisfaction, her willingness to go the extra mile for our customers, and her relentless desire to learn and take on new responsibilities,” said Dougherty. “She generously takes time to help new technicians and is generally the one they go to with questions or concerns if the manager is unavailable.”
A WIN-WIN RELATIONSHIP. In Massey Services, Whitley has found an employer that has given her opportunities to grow personally and professionally. While working at Massey Services, Whitley decided to pursue her associate degree in veterinary medicine, taking evening courses at a local college. She completed her degree in 2012, after working towards it for eight years.
“We encouraged her to pursue her education and provided mentorship, guidance and tuition reimbursement for her to attend school,” said Tony Massey, president of Massey Services. “Our company offers ongoing technical training for all of our team members along with specialized training for individuals seeking advancement. Danielle has taken advantage of this opportunity and is currently working to complete Massey’s Service Manager training program.”
Whitley also likes that Massey Services maintains its family atmosphere despite having grown significantly since she began. She recalled running into Tony Massey and Ed Dougherty at a Florida restaurant that was about 80 miles from her service center. “They immediately came over to talk to me. At Massey, you aren’t just a number. They know you and treat you like family.”
In addition to being devoted to her customers, Whitley is devoted to her many volunteer efforts. She owns a 10-acre ranch with horses, dogs, cats and a pot-bellied pig, and she invites underprivileged children to the ranch to ride the horses. In addition, Whitley contributes to a variety of causes including the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program, the American Heart Association, Autism Speaks and Florida Urban Homesteading.
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