Unpopular opinion: I don’t think bed bugs are a problem. I think people are the problem. From a technical standpoint, bed bugs are easy: find the problem, treat the problem. From a business perspective, bed bugs can be costly and cut into the bottom line. But when people enter the equation, or more specifically, communication between people, things break down and costs add up.
OUNCE OF PREVENTION. It’s hard to justify spending extra time and product on a problem when you could be getting to the next account. In many cases, bed bug jobs are fairly straightforward and successful. Why spend extra time talking with a customer or doing a little extra treatment when you will likely never see this customer again? Consider the dreaded callback.
A few days after treatment, the customer calls complaining they still have bed bugs. Someone has to go back, inspect and possibly retreat to satisfy the customer. You know there may still be a few bed bugs crawling that will quickly encounter the treatment and die off. However, the customer isn’t happy because they weren’t aware of this. Telling a customer before and after a treatment what to expect and asking them if they have any questions can save you callbacks and disgruntled clients.
A similar situation is when customers call soon after a treatment claiming they are still getting bit. This one is a bit tricky because there are so many reasons why people might think they are getting bit. However, you can add that extra ounce of communication prior to and just after treatment. Let them know you understand the stress they have been under and that as long as they are not seeing live bed bugs, the feeling should go away. A follow-up call or even a text or email acknowledging their fear (though I may stay away from the word “fear”) shows understanding and compassion. A customer who feels heard and understood is a happy customer.
Ultimately, some extra time at the start and end of the job can reduce callbacks. Even if you have few or no callbacks after bed bug jobs, the extra time communicating with customers can result in more referrals, better online ratings and more business in the future.
TO PREP OR NOT. That is the question, and it creates other questions. If you are going to require the customer to prepare their location for your treatment, consider how clear your instructions are. If instructions are unclear or open to interpretation, you may not get the level of preparation you may expect. If you have been using the same instructions for a year or more, think about giving them to someone who doesn’t do bed bug work or even a friend or neighbor. While you may think the directions are simple, someone who has not gone through this process before may not. Also, consider the ability of your customer to adequately prep. If your client can’t or won’t prep, have policies in place for dealing with that.
Ensure the customer understands what to expect if they do not complete the prep work. Communicate with them before the job on the prep items, and don’t just ask if they have done them. Ask them what items they have done and what items they are having concerns about. Ask them if they feel like they can be prepared by the time the job is going to start. By asking the right questions and listening to the answers, you can work with the customer to have a successful partnership and an effective treatment.
If you are not going to have the customer prep, are the people who are doing the treatment aware of what they are walking into? A no-prep job might be a neat three-bedroom house with all the laundry done and bagged. Or it could be a hoarder situation with little room to move around in, much less room to treat. If they are not prepared with the right equipment, PPE and treatment plans, the job is not going to be done quickly and effectively. Make sure whoever does the initial inspection and sale of the job has noted all the conditions like sanitation, clutter, hard-to-reach areas and anything else that might make the job more complicated. It’s better to be overprepared with extra supplies than have a less-than-perfect job and deal with the dreaded callback.
A PENNY SAVED. Consider this from the customer’s point of view: They are stressed that they have this problem, they just paid a good bit of money to fix it and they likely have 20 other things they are dealing with on top of the bed bug issue. You can tell them what you did and what to expect, but often, they aren’t fully listening. Having printed material to leave with them so they can review it or following up with an email that explains again what you did allows them to refer to that before calling you. It provides additional peace of mind to the customer and a better feeling about the service. Here are some thoughts:
- Are your communications clear?
- Are you communicating the right information?
- Are you communicating the right way?
- Are you communicating enough?
FINAL THOUGHTS. Ultimately, much of a job comes down to communication — communicating with customers and those performing the bed bug jobs. The better and more clear the communication can be and the more the communication can be repeated, the better prepared everyone can be and the more successful the job will be. Good communication is good business when it comes to bed bugs.