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Run Your Business: The Baltimore Blister

|  June 15, 2020
PHOTO: PLAYB/E+/GETTY IMAGES

PHOTO: PLAYB/E+/GETTY IMAGES

I ran the Baltimore Marathon on a warm October day. The race started off fine. I’d trained for it, and was ready to break my four-hour mark.

There were hoses flowing overhead to cool off the stream of runners. I ran under the mist, my arms stretched out wide. But within minutes, I realized my mistake: I now had wet socks rubbing inside my brand-new sneakers, the ones I’d forgotten to break in.

The blister was inevitable.

A big one formed on the ball of my right foot. It was still early in the race. I had more than 20 miles to go. But I pushed through the heat and the pain — until muscle cramps stabbed my legs.

My blister screamed with each step. I couldn’t help wondering if I should give up.

Have you ever had a job or project that falls apart? A job where everything that could go wrong, does?

Of course you did. You can’t be in the service industry without having one.

CASE IN POINT: BED BUG NIGHTMARE

Sometimes, a dream job turns into a nightmare. That’s what happened when BHB Pest Elimination was asked to insect-proof every unit in a building because bed bugs were found in just one apartment. This was a high-end building, and management was terrified that bed bugs would spread to every unit.

I tried to talk the management company out of it. It made no sense to do such a major treatment for such a minor issue. My honesty won us the job I didn’t want to do in the first place.

Like the marathon, though, the job began to fall apart at its very first steps. Usually, pest control work is invisible. We work in hidden areas where the pests are. For this, we had to treat every inch of their exquisite, perfect residences. Tenants complained about everything. The caulk was too shiny, too thick or they wanted a certain color. They weren’t happy, and they made that clear to the property manager.

He shut us down. On Day One.

I met with the manager the next day. There was part of me that wanted to walk away from this opportunity, even if this was a company that could open up other doors for us. I didn’t want to deal with an unending list of complaints. But problems are part of our business. Whether it’s a blister in a race or a nightmare job, things are going to fall apart.

I promised him we’d turn the job around. His look of disgust only fueled my determination.

We met with each tenant and gave them choices. We explained how we’d treat each apartment.

And then, we got to work.

I limped over the finish line that day in Baltimore and earned my medal. I did not get one at the end of that bed bug job. But that’s OK. We finished, and the tenants were happy. The project manager was shocked and impressed that we fixed all the complaints. He even recommended us to other managers, and today, we service more than 50 properties directly connected to him.

That job taught me to never give up. Dig down deep and always cross the finish line. Have a great run!


BRODER is president of BHB Pest Elimination, which is located in New York, N.Y. The company provides general pest control services in New York City’s five boroughs of New York, as well as New Jersey and Philadelphia.  He may be reached at 212-242-3383 or michael@bhbpest.com.

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