NPMA Technology Summit explores evolving technology

|  October 2, 2019
PHOTO: ISTOCK.COM/URUPONG

PHOTO: ISTOCK.COM/URUPONG

When pest management professionals (PMPs) get together, they tend to share the successes and challenges they’ve experienced in all aspects of their businesses. Be it tips for pest control, advice for managing problematic pests, ideas for marketing their services, or suggestions for hiring and retaining employees, PMPs don’t hesitate to explain what works best for them so everyone benefits.

Technology is no different, which is why the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) will hold its 2019 Technology Summit in Atlanta, Ga., Dec. 4-6. Networking is a highlight of this event, as participants are given ample opportunities over the course of three days to ask questions and share ideas with speakers, as well as attendees.

“The people in the pest control industry are so good at sharing with one another,” says the NPMA’s VP of conventions and meetings, Alexis Wirtz, CMP.

The event is geared to anyone who works in pest control: business owners; the decision makers who buy the hardware and software; and the technicians and office managers who implement and use the software and high-tech pest control equipment. But many are wary of taking the leap and making an investment in the industry’s most innovative products and services.

“Technology has gotten cheaper, but there’s always a cost component when implementing new technology,” Wirtz points out. “PMPs want to make sure they’re making the best business decisions before they make a buying decision.”
 

Focus on profitability

On tap are presentations that will be delivered by PMPs who use technology to help their teams work smarter and boost their bottom lines. Tech-savvy PMPs from companies large and small will discuss a variety of topics that have had an impact on their businesses.

A company’s need for technology can be broad, such as when it is used to run a business, communicate with customers, and manage employees. It also can be specific, such as when it pertains to pest control as a service industry.

“There are particular ways technology can influence and change the business itself,” Wirtz says, noting that’s why it’s so important for PMPs to offer presentations about their experiences, too.
 

Outside perspective

NPMA’s VP of conventions and meetings, Alexis Wirtz, CMP.

Alexis Wirtz

Each day, the Technology Summit will include a general session presentation by a tech expert who does not work in the pest control industry. After the presentation, each speaker will facilitate a group discussion based on his topic, so attendees can discuss how to apply what they just learned to their businesses. These extra sessions took place after each general session at the last Technology Summit, and proved to be a highlight of the 2017 event.

“Learning about technology from keynote presenters who are talking about technology on a global scale, and how it is changing the way we do business, is important,” says Wirtz. “But it’s more beneficial to know what you can do to implement that technology when you get back to your business on Monday. Hearing from people who run similar businesses and getting tangible takeaways is more helpful.”

For example, this year’s program features a speaker who will talk about the “uberization” of every industry. PMPs in attendance may wonder how this concept could potentially affect the pest control industry in the future. They may question whether customers will one day be able to go online and ask that the closest pest control company send a technician to their house in five minutes. Because the presenter will remain in the conference room and talk through how his discussion relates to a service industry, attendees will learn how the future looks in general, and then how that will trickle down to the pest control industry and change it.

“We decided it was important to have keynote speakers from outside the pest control industry talk about global technological advancements,” Wirtz says. “It’s interesting for attendees to learn about what’s coming in the future. At the same time, it’s important to digest that and bring it back to how it affects us as an industry.”
 

Industry input

The members of the NPMA’s Technology Committee helped determine the content for this year’s Technology Summit. The committee is comprised of PMPs who use technology to run their businesses more efficiently, as well as representatives from companies that offer tech-related products and services. They developed a survey with session topic ideas, and distributed it to members of the NPMA to gauge interest. Topics were narrowed down for inclusion in the program.

“Our technology committee is an amazing group that knows a lot about technology,” Wirtz says. “They worked hard to put together the program.”

When finalizing the Technology Summit program, the committee took care to provide content that would pertain to a wide range of attendees.

This year’s program will feature breakout tracks. One track will be geared to executives and owners — people who want to know how they can make larger changes within their organization, whether it be office automation, call centers or ways to streamline business practices.

Another track will be for sales and marketing specialists looking for ways to better engage with their customers and increase sales using technology.

A third track will focus on the IT experts who rely on technology daily. These sessions are geared to a pest control company’s technical team members interested in data security, compliance and how to use technology to gather better data.

“From the owners to the IT team, there’s something for everybody,” Wirtz says.

Indeed, the Technology Summit will include an area for exhibitors, where attendees can get an up-close look at innovative products and services designed to make them work smarter. Exhibitors will be comprised of companies that offer business-related services, as well as manufacturers of pest control products that feature technological advancements.

“To exhibit at the show, companies must have a product or service that’s associated with technology in some way,” Wirtz says, adding that throughout its 86-year history, the NPMA has championed new technology that relates to the pest control industry.

“It’s important not only to care about it, but to embrace it in order to advance any pest control business,” she says.
 

First, San Diego

Even though the NPMA is holding its biennial Technology Summit this year, tech-centric sessions also will be offered at PestWorld, the organization’s largest gathering of the year. PestWorld 2019 takes place in San Diego, Calif., Oct. 15-18, and will feature several educational sessions on technology.

“But the Technology Summit dives much deeper into technology-related topics,” Wirtz says. “Because the Technology Summit runs every other year, we put additional programming on the PestWorld program in the off year.”

Whether you’ve worked in the pest control industry for four months or 40 years, she adds, there’s no denying the benefits of embracing innovation.
“Technology touches every part of our lives these days,” Wirtz says. “It’s impossible to run any business without it.”

Diane Sofranec

About the Author:

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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