How to instill pride in your employees


October 28, 2016

The “Wall of Fame” bulletin board in the break room at Schopen Pest Solutions. Photo: Pete Schopen

The “Wall of Fame” bulletin board in the break room at Schopen Pest Solutions.
Photo: Pete Schopen

My father-in-law, Fred, used to frequently remind me that it didn’t matter what he thought about me, or what my boss thought about me or even what his daughter considered to be my good and bad attributes. The only person I had to answer to each day was … me.

Fred had a blue-collar work ethic, even though he owned his own business. He passed away 18 years ago, but his words still resonate with me. He told me to take a look in the mirror each morning when I woke up and ask myself whether I was going to slack off today, or give it my best and work hard. He also told me to take a look in the mirror at night before bed and ask myself whether I did everything I possibly could that day to make myself a better person.

Personal pride is a hard thing to teach. Being a small business owner, I can only hope I hire people who have a good work ethic. I also hope they won’t lie, steal or cheat me or my clients. At Schopen Pest Solutions, we have been slowly implementing devices into our techs’ day-to-day operations to make them feel more empowered. I hope the following will help them feel a sense of pride in their work:

  • Host monthly meetings. The techs can’t learn pest management or do a job the way I want it done if they are not consistently being trained. In September, for example, we studied a particular pesticide label (again) and then we went on a field trip to a client’s house. At this customer’s home, I showed the techs how I want ant treatments performed.
  • Set standards. I hate cobwebs and wasp nests on clients’ homes. It drives me batty. All of my techs know it. So while we were at the aforementioned customer’s house, I also showed the techs the three wasp nests that were missed during the last quarterly service and the cobwebs that were surrounding the homeowner’s door. If my techs can literally see what is upsetting me, they can avoid letting me down in the future.
  • Have pride in yourself. My techs are not allowed to work without wearing a belt. Nothing looks worse than a worker showing up to a client’s house wearing a wrinkled shirt, pants without a belt and shoes with holes in them. I’m not as strict on shaving or other body hair as long as the rest of their hygiene is appropriate. Some guys just have a hard time with the manscaping.
  • Give compliments. There is nothing wrong with telling someone he or she is doing a good job. In fact, I believe it motivates workers to try harder when they know somebody cares. At Schopen Pest Solutions, we have the “Wall of Fame,” a bulletin board in the break room. On this board are printouts of web-based reviews, letters and transcribed phone
    calls from customers. I always see my employees rereading the compliments clients have given them.
  • Set goals. At Schopen Pest Solutions, we have the “Strive For Five” campaign going on right now. All of my techs are required to ask their clients whether they are pleased with the service that was just provided. If the customer says “yes,” my techs will ask whether he or she would go online and give us a five-star review. If the customer says “no,” the techs will ask the client what they could have done better and try to fix it. Every time my tech gets a five-star review, I give him a bonus.

Getting it right

When I was 9 years old, my uncle, Jack Spellman, was showing my dad and me a house he was building in Wisconsin. Being a kid, I knew nothing about architecture or carpentry. That didn’t stop Uncle Jack from asking me what I thought about the frame he had put up.

I remember mumbling something about the house looking “good.”

“It looks like s—!” he shot back. He pointed a calloused finger at the front of the structure and said, “I have to fix that entire wall. It’s off by at least an eighth of an inch.”

I looked harder this time, but I still couldn’t see any tilt in the home whatsoever. I’ll never forget him taking a level out of his toolbox and setting it on top of the header that would end up being his front door. He showed me how the little air bubble was moving slightly to the right.

That’s the kind of company I want to run: a company where my techs have personal pride and want to do the perfect job each and every time. I want them to come back to the office at night, look in the mirror and say, “I did the very best job I could today.”

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


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