Consolidated Pest shares why customer satisfaction is key

By |  November 19, 2018
Jai Buttram, owner, Consolidated Pest Control

Jai Buttram, Owner, Consolidated Pest Control

As the owner of a pest management company in the Tampa, Fla., market, I’m often asked about the way we do things and what has worked best for us. We have been blessed with success in many areas, not to say that we have it all together (we don’t), but here’s a little of what we’ve learned along the way.

Central Florida is a unique market, and we pride ourselves in the growth we have been able to achieve. Our team has been serving local business and families in Plant City since 1989, when the Buttram family began working in the green industry. Plant City is a growing rural part of central Florida known for its strawberry growers and the annual Plant City Strawberry Festival.

Over the years, Consolidated has grown by adding services to keep up with customer demand. Like many pest control companies, we started as Consolidated Land Care, and later expanded to offer pest control services. As you might expect, different parts of our company have grown at different rates.

Our fastest growing service is currently our lawn fertilization and pest control division (LNO). It originally grew from our lawn mowing customer base. In 2013, we sold the lawn mowing, irrigation and landscaping division to concentrate on lawn spraying and on the pest control division. This was a strategic choice to cut out superfluous parts of our business, and to focus on what works best.

Other services that we now offer have grown from that base. Our market is very competitive, and the way we stay ahead is pretty simple: We keep trying to offer the best service at a fair price. I know this isn’t groundbreaking advice, but we have found that the best way to grow is to provide the best service, and then trust your customers to refer you to friends and neighbors.

We have various ways of trying to help that along, of course. We provide incentives for our customers to refer us. We also have a bonus system for technicians to earn more for making new sales with the use of flyer cloverleafing the neighbors of our existing customers. In our experience, the easiest customer to earn is the one that can see the quality of your work next door.

So, what advice would I have to a company like ours that is trying to expand? If your results aren’t fantastic, nothing else matters. Customers are not stupid, and they are paying for a specific result. Underpromise and overdeliver to good people, and you will prosper.

Easier said than done

Part of the trick is finding good people with whom to do business. We have found that sometimes, it’s OK to tell a problem customer that our business relationship just isn’t a good fit. In our experience, many competitors that have gone under have failed to learn this lesson. If a customer has frequent issues that despite our best, honest efforts, we are unable to resolve  — or if they just flat out want something for free — we will kindly perform any final services on our dime, and then politely refer them to one of our competitors. The 90/10 rule is very real. If you let them, 10 percent of customers will require 90 percent of your effort. And your good, paying customers will suffer as a result.

Because of the origins of our company, our customer base is 75 percent lawn spraying. The other 25 percent is divided among household pest, mosquito reduction, nuisance wildlife/rodent and termite service. To walk this line, we make sure our technicians are cross-trained to provide lawn care service, and also provide our quarterly perimeter application for household pest prevention from the same service vehicle.

We stay connected with our client base by making sure that each team is assigned the same route and customers each month. We plan to eventually add fumigation to our services. We are always looking for ways to better serve our existing customer base, and have started new services in the past couple years in response to our customers’ specific needs.

In the Central Florida market, we have found that indoor pest control and termite treatment are slower growing services for us. Our current strategy includes putting more energy into growing these types of customers, because we have found once you earn their trust, they are typically long-term clients. Because relationships are at the heart of what we do, our goal has been to “earn the business and keep the business,” and we have found it to work very well for us. We don’t like the idea of a churning customer base.

Training is key

Training is a very important part of a successful team. Our team meets once a month for training and a meal. We cover a topic, and review company numbers and goals.

At these meetings, we do more than just train. They also help with keeping up-to-date with changing weather patterns and how it is affecting our customers; new products; new ideas; and building camaraderie with our team.

Several years ago, Consolidated Pest Control as a company decided that everything we do will be filtered through our “E.T.A. Core Values.” These are Excellence, Teamwork and Accountability. We have found that by creating a positive culture, we can create the necessary structure to ensure the success of our team members and the company overall. We will continue to move forward, together, with our main purpose of providing our clients with the highest of quality and professional experience. By achieving this daily, we trust that our clients will be confident and excited to share their experience with their family and friends.

In closing, I thought I’d share a meaningful quote that is a favorite of our from S. Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A. “If we get better, customers will demand we get bigger.” Wise words from a great leader.

2018 has been a very good year for us with growth, and we are very excited to see what another good year may bring.

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