Operating by the book, PMP style


October 25, 2013

Pest management professionals (PMPs) must have a playbook ready at all times.

Headshot: Ray JohnsonBy Ray Johnson

Several years ago, I created our Daily Operations Guide. This idea isn’t original. I saw how other companies put standard operating procedures (SOPs), systems for sales/service and other guidelines into writing to provide clear direction for all employees. Don’t be afraid to put this type of important information on paper. Your employees will be grateful because they need and want the guidelines your company requires. Your commitment to their success is vital.

[ TIP: Include standards for company image, dress code, and expectations of a service technician and sales inspector in your playbook. ]

Your playbook should include various topics: steps to solve pest problems you encounter in your area, tips about how to prevent cancellations and ways to communicate with customers. Two of my previous articles focused on getting paid from customers in a timely manner and telling employees what to say to them in different situations. Both articles came from our playbook. Yours also should include direction about:

■ performing an initial service and making a positive first impression to win customers’ confidence;
■ avoiding bad debts by starting a customer on the right payment plan such as a bank draft or having a credit card on file for convenient billing to be charged the day after service;
■ going the extra mile and creating a customer for life by providing outstanding service;
■ containing and cleaning up chemical spills; and
■ implementing rodent treatment safely.

Don’t forget personal protective equipment (PPE) and the required yearly certification you must record to validate that each technician has been trained and issued proper safety gear. Include safe driving skills. You might use video and other instructional materials from the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) or your insurance company.

To save money in the long run and keep production going at all times, equipment and vehicle maintenance should be included. Your playbook also should contain the name(s) of who in the company should handle public announcements and questions from the news media. If you don’t address this, you might find yourself on the wrong side of a TV camera.

Other details to include in your playbook are standards for your company image, dress code, and expectations of a service technician and sales inspector. We provide a checklist of work habits and what to do if the state inspects your operation. We stress the importance of doing everything with honesty and integrity. We include when to ask management for help in difficult situations. We include our customer satisfaction pledge to remind us of what we’ve promised customers. We also attach a pricing guide to keep us on the same page.

All these ideas are intended to give clearer direction for employees. We often review different sections of our playbook during our employee meetings. It required hard work and dedication to assemble this, but I sleep better at night knowing our playbook continues to guide us. pmp

You can reach Johnson, a past president of the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) 
and current president of Sevierville, Tenn.-based Johnson Pest Control, at ray@johnsonpestcontrol.com.


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