What PMPs can learn from Van Halen


October 4, 2012

By Andrew Greess

What can a pest management professional (PMP) learn from Van Halen besides how to party like a rock star? Well, at least one thing about how to manage your pest control business.

Van Halen’s contract specified that concert venues meet a long list of requirements dealing with safety, sound, power and wide range of other conditions.  One of those requirements, buried in a very technical section of the contract, was for a bowl of M&M’s with all the brown M&Ms removed. The candy bowl was to be placed in a prominent place in the band’s dressing room (Source: Wikipedia).

Van Halen did not include this demand because they were prima donnas; they included it because they were smart businessmen.

Band members could walk into the dressing room and immediately look for the candy. If the bowl of M&Ms was missing, or there were brown M&Ms in the bowl, they would have good reason to believe the contract had not been properly followed.  It was an easy, visual way to determine whether the venue had actually read and complied with the contract.

I love this idea of visual cues to determine how a business or an employees is performing.

In our pest control equipment business, we have a long list of start-of-day and end-of-day procedures. When I walk into the showroom, I check the drink cooler to see whether it is full and neat. The cooler is the last item on the start-of-day procedures, so if it looks good, then I have confidence the inside sales team has performed all the startup tasks properly.

In the office, I check the fax machine to see whether there are any inbound faxes. If there are faxes piled up, then I am concerned that morning tasks (such as prompt follow-up of overnight orders in the form of faxes, phone messages and emails) hasn’t occurred.What are the visual cues for your business?  What visual tests can you use to make sure your technicians, their vehicles and their pest control equipment are meeting your company standards and requirements?

You have to decide what works for your business, but here are some ideas to get you thinking:

  1. Open the power sprayer filter.  Is it clean?  If not, spray equipment problems are coming.
  2. Is the vehicle bed neat and clean?  If not, the technician is not paying attention and is not honoring your brand.
  3. Check the respirator. Is it in good condition, sealed in an airtight bag and within its expiration date?
  4. Check the 1-gal. compressed air sprayer. Is it neat and clean, or covered in chemical?

Spend some time figuring out the visual cues for your business.  Get in the habit of checking these cues regularly, and train your supervisors to do the same.  If your expectations are always met, change up the cues to drive further business improvements.


Rock on, PMPs!

Andrew Greess is president of Quality Equipment & Spray, which designs and builds custom pest control spray equipment solutions.  He can be reached at www.qspray.com.  For more on this topic,  visit www.SprayEquipmentBlog.com or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.


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