Q&A with Cramer Pest Control’s Chris Cramer


August 18, 2017

Our question-and-answer session this month focuses on Chris Cramer, owner of Cramer Pest Control in Fort Mills, S.C. For the first eight years, he did everything himself. Fast-forward 20 years, and the company now has 16 employees and projected revenues of $2 million.

1. How can pest management companies better attract, develop and retain today’s and tomorrow’s brightest minds?

Millennials get a bad rap. Many are a product of the hovering parent; everything has been figured out for them. But there’s tremendous potential. Because they’ve had constant support, they’re not short on self-confidence. Align a plan for them that is very detailed of your expectations. Once they have a proper plan laid out for them, they can actually excel and exceed expectations. When you don’t give them clear instructions, it becomes very frustrating for both sides.

2. How have you trained your technicians to ensure customer satisfaction?

From the get-go, we wanted fans, not clients. We call our customers the following day to find out how the service went. With pest control, there are so many choices and opportunities out there. If customers aren’t satisfied, they won’t necessarily call you and complain; they will just move to another company. The phone calls give us an opportunity for quality control, customer retention and relationship building.

3. Are customers surprised to get that call?

The tech doesn’t prep them. Eighty percent of our sales are referral business. We’re probably the highest priced in our area, but we grow at a clip like nobody else because of word-of-mouth. When we make that secondary connection, customers find out we really care about them and their opinion.

A lot of times you get the opportunity to fix misinformation. When the technician is there for 25 minutes, and in the customer’s mind, service should have taken an hour, just talking through that helps. They may have felt they overpaid for what they didn’t get, but when you have a conversation with them and they notice they no longer have bugs, they realize the solution was exactly what they paid for.

Educated customers become fantastic referrals because they take the information you’ve given them and they share it with their neighbors. They are your mouthpiece where you can’t be.

4. The industry has had success converting do-it-yourselfers into clients. How can we build upon this conversion trend?

With do-it-yourselfers, it really comes down to price. Their failure usually is going to be when they contact a professional. Don’t ever drop a price point so you’re attracting do-it-yourselfers. Really know what you do, so when they do contact you, they recognize they’ve gotten into an arena they never should have entered. Make sure you take care of their problem as soon as you get that opportunity. Eventually, they will convert.

5. Looking ahead, will regulations related to the pest management industry increase or decrease?

Based on the new head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), I think regulations will be eased. To some degree, regulations have raised the standard of professionalism for our industry. Safety concerns are not bad, because they teach us to go back to basic training tips and techniques learned so long ago. If the pest can find food and harborage, then the pest is going to exist; the pesticide or lack thereof has never been the focus of the treatment. Our professionalism and how we educate the consumer are always going to be the key.

You can reach Managing Editor Diane Sofranec at dsofranec@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3793.

About the Author

Diane Sofranec

Diane Sofranec is the senior editor for PMP magazine. She can be reached at dsofranec@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3793.

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