Sales & Service: In Praise of Life Preservers


August 18, 2014

As pest management professionals (PMPs), we repeatedly have to chart our courses. Situations change so quickly, it’s a job in itself to just keep up. New rules and regulations come from every direction. Before we know it, we’re up to our eyeballs with problems. Sometimes we acquire nuggets of wisdom I like to call life preservers from experts who’ve successfully navigated the choppy waters before us. Let’s focus on three life preservers I’ve been thrown:

1. Leave the past. You might think the past is gone, but it’s not. For example, if you still have poor sales-and-service methods and systems in place, the past has you in its grasp. If your sales are flat and your company isn’t growing, you must change what’s obstructing your progress. Has your sales staff changed, or has the world around it changed? Is it getting left behind because of a lack of daily training and coaching? Is your service staff still applying obsolete pest management practices? This is why you must leave the past. The fate of your company largely is in the hands of your employees. Hire and train them well.

2. Seize the present. Finding employees with the right set of customer service skills can be difficult. You might find yourself interviewing people who want a job, but they might be thinking in terms of paychecks not careers. They say they have ambition, but ambition is as common as dirt. They lack initiative. Business owners need every employee to have initiative to be successful. We all receive poor service from employees who lack initiative; but the businesses that go the extra mile for you and deliver the service you deserve are the ones you return to repeatedly. Ambition without initiative is simply daydreaming. Hire sales and service professionals with initiative.

3. Guard your future. The good thing is, you’re reading this publication, which will give you significant knowledge apart from other professionals. But I’m also a big proponent of industry participation. If you’re not a member of your national, state and local industry associations, you’ll have to learn and endure from your own mistakes. Sure, participation is a commitment, but it’s well worth the investment. The PMPs you’ll meet are just as happy to share their lessons learned as they are to pick up a few helpful tips from you.

Our industry is one that shares, especially at events such as the National Pest Management Association’s (NPMA’s) PestWorld, which will be in Orlando, Fla., Oct. 21-24. I hope to see you there. NPMA’s PestWorld is the perfect place to share life preservers.

You can reach Johnson, a past president of the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), president of Sevierville, TN.-based Johnson Pest Control, and founder of ACES for Business, at


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