We asked Pest Management Professional’s columnists and editorial advisory board members to share important lessons they’ve learned while working on commercial accounts. Here are some of their responses — including a few extra that didn’t make it into our October 2019 print edition. Share some of the lessons you’ve learned with us in the comments below or to firstname.lastname@example.org.
PMP’s Regular Contributors
Stuart Aust: “Say what you’re going to do for your commercial client and then do what you say. Also, I always recommend quality assurance/quality control inspections as a value added service for commercial clients. It’s a good way to keep your clients for a long time.”
Dr. Jim Fredericks: “It’s not always enough to tell a client what sanitation or exclusion issues need to be addressed; sometimes you need to show them what to do.”
Paul Hardy: “Communication is essential to success. Know who is in charge of the establishment and develop a working relationship with them. Talk with the employees who know what is going on. Remember, public relations is 70 percent, service is 20 percent, and showing up as scheduled is 10 percent.”
Ray Johnson: “Other than delivering excellent service, build close relationships with the decisionmakers that will keep you on as a vendor.”
Frank Meek, BCE: “Know your client’s business. Know the lingo used in their business. This includes the names of any specialized equipment or machinery, as well as any of their production or manufacturing processes. It builds your credibility as a trusted and valued partner. Also, make sure you know all rules and regulations specific to their industry.”
Kurt Scherzinger: “The most important lesson working on commercial accounts is make sure you know who your contacts are and communicate all you do for them.”
Pete Schopen: “You should always act with urgency with every client, but especially with commercial clients. Many times, you don’t have the same relationship with a commercial account that you do with a residential customer. If they think you didn’t act swiftly, they might jump to another company.”
Mark Sheperdigian, BCE: “You never know the relationships that exist between employees at any given account, so it is essential to make a positive impression on every single person.”
Stephen Vantassel, ACE: “Find out who the decisionmaker is and how you will be paid.”
PMP’s Editorial Advisory Board
Judy Black, BCE: “If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no. If you think any of the following (or similar) need to be done for you to be able to resolve the pest issue, then ask:
- A borescope is not always going to give you the view you need. Remove wall board to really see inside the wall void.
- Put a flexible gas line on a piece of equipment so it can be moved.
- Dispose of equipment that is not working, such as a refrigerator or oven.
- Install an access panel for an area/piece of equipment to be regularly inspected and more easily treated if necessary.
- Get keys (or access) to the liquor room and office.”
Ryan Bradbury: “An open line of communication with the client. It’s important for both parties to recognize they’ve entered a partnership and the main goal is a pest-free environment. Both sides have a responsibility for how to make that happen. An open line of communication sometimes is the best way to get there.”
Michael Broder: “During the inspection and proposal phases, make sure you are very clear on exactly what areas are to be serviced or to be handled separately. We have seen many commercial properties that will include some tenants/areas for service, but not others — and they just assume you know that. Not only is it a cost drain if you are treating areas you are not supposed to, there could be legal ramifications as well.”
Doug Foster: “Because we deal with several layers of management or supervisors — or sometimes no supervisors — we need to communicate clearly our expectations, their expectations, preparations needed, and so on. We also need to use both written and verbal communication whenever possible. A close second to communication is follow up. Where there is no follow-up, there is no accountability.”
Dr. Faith Oi: “Find the right person to communicate your findings/actions to and develop a communication strategy. A lot of customer frustrations stem from not talking to the right person.”
Dan Baldwin, BCE: “It may seem overly simplistic, and a bit of a cliche, but establishing and maintaining good, clear lines of communication is absolutely essential to providing an appropriate level of service. And it’s not just a matter of making sure the service personnel speak with the onsite contact at each service call.
It starts during the sales process. Salespeople need to clearly and accurately describe the services to be provided and set reasonable, attainable expectations. During that process, the appropriate contacts need to be identified, at least in terms of position.
The service person needs to know the onsite routine contact, supervisors need to know who to contact for escalated services or other concerns, and management or owners need to know the main corporate/business contact for business reviews and contract maintenance.
Also during that sales process, it should be plainly established that the routine contact must make themselves available for the service personnel at least at the end of the service, if not before, during and after.
An escalation process should be established up front — and general, initial action steps spelled out and explained to the customer.
Prevention steps should be detailed and prioritized, but avoid giving non-actionable findings and recommendations. Your clients are not pest prevention professionals; they rely on us to provide useful information. For example, documenting several instances of freshly dropped food on the floor of a commercial kitchen isn’t anywhere near as important as pointing out a severely neglected floor drain, and it’s easy for the floor drain to get lost if the finding is buried in the midst of irrelevant items.
The bottom line is that clients need to fully understand what we can do, what they must do, and what to expect. Talk to them. Just talk to them.”
*Featured photo: iStock.com/onfilm