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Start-Up Diaries: To Pee, or Not to Pee

|  February 10, 2015

You know the look: eyes pinched shut, hand on your stomach, sweat beading off your forehead. Are you nervous because there’s a bald-faced hornet nest the size of Jamaica on a client’s garage? Are you upset because the Packers beat the Bears (again)?

Nope. You have to use the restroom. The problem is that you’re in a client’s home on a call, and her toilet is the only thing between you and relief.

What’s your company policy about using the bathroom in clients’ homes? Do you let techs cut loose and potentially lose a client, or do you tell them to suck it up and wait to find a gas station?

I’ve never had a problem asking my clients if I can use their restrooms. In my opinion, if you gotta’ go, you gotta’ go.

The first time I realized this might be a problem with some clients was about 12 years ago. I was working in Algonquin, Ill., as a manager when I received a call from a client demanding a particular technician never be allowed back in her home. When I asked her why, she didn’t hold back: “He peed all over my floor!” 

During the next few days, I received six complaints about this tech. When I approached him, he denied any knowledge of the slippery issue. It all came to a head when our accounts manager, after having him in her home, admitted that he peed on her floor, too. She was a single lady, so I drove to her home to see the evidence. Sure enough, there was urine all over her toilet seat and bathroom floor.

I concluded the tech wasn’t doing this on purpose. He had a large belly and couldn’t see what he was doing. When I approached other clients, they told me the situation had been going on for months but didn’t know how to deny him powder-room privileges. 

I sat the tech down and told him he’d need to be more careful and wipe up after himself in clients’ homes. He was embarrassed but handled it well. I could’ve made a bigger issue out of it and fired him, or denied bathroom privileges to all techs, but I wanted to see if we could resolve the problem quietly. Over time, the complaints piddled away.

Using the commode in a client’s abode can be a problem for anyone in the service industry. I’ve heard horror stories from home inspectors who thought they were alone and someone walked in on them doing their duty.

Below are related tips I give my techs. (Yes, I review bathroom protocol with them during training.)

Bathroom Etiquette 

Make sure you ask the homeowner for permission.
If no one is home, make sure the toilet flushes before you use it.
Use the smallest amount of toilet paper possible (to avoid clogging).
Never put paper towels or feminine products in the toilet.
Make sure the toilet seat is up if you’re male and urinating.
Make sure the toilet seat is clean before and after you’re done.
Don’t go through clients’ personal items while in their bathrooms.
Don’t use your cell phone while in their bathrooms.
If there is air freshener, use it.

Schopen’s Open Book

Start-up: Schopen Pest Solutions, Inc.
Headquarters: McHenry, Ill.
Founder: Peter F. Schopen Jr.
Start-Up Date: April 11, 2006
Number of employees: seven (Schopen, four full-time techs, one programmer, one in billing)
2006 Revenue: $97,235 (one employee)
2007 Revenue: $172,495 (one employee)
2008 Revenue: $203,732 (one employee)
2009 Revenue: $243,427 (two employees)
2010 Revenue: $325,960 (three employees)
2011 Revenue: $425,847 (four employees)
2012 Revenue: $489,887 (five employees)
2013 Revenue: $572,772 (six employees)
Projected 2014 Revenue: $731,767


Schopen is owner and founder of Schopen Pest Solutions, McHenry, Ill. You can email him at pete@schopenpest.com or reach him via Twitter: @schopenpest; Instagram: @peteschopen; or Facebook: Schopen Pest Solutions, Inc.

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