Let’s talk about the weather.
The old adage of “if you don’t like the weather, hang around for five minutes, it’ll change,” rings true for a good portion of the country. Still, we arrange our lives around what we think the weather will be, don’t we? Going to the game? No, looks like rain. The beach? Not today, but later in the week looks fine.
Plans get set or changed all based on what it’s doing or expected to do outside. Planning for our services should be no different.
I realize labels can be somewhat ambiguous at times. But they’re pretty cut and dried when it comes to application in bad weather. What part of “do not apply in rain” is hard to understand? “Do not apply with winds at or gusting to…” Some products even mention a window of time where if bad weather is expected, do not apply.
However, I’m not aware of any label or statute that says you must stop all pest control activities in the presence of bad weather.
AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION
With just a few minutes’ investment in the day to watch the news or click the weather app on your phone, a lot of weather-related downtime in the field could be avoided. Freeze warnings, high winds, lightning, chance of rain — right down to the time of arrival, expected clearing, areas most likely affected — and on and on, are all available 24/7.
Just as we plan to go or not go to the beach, we should have viable plans in place when the inevitable hits. At my company, we don’t let bad weather halt our production unless it’s severe or a matter of safety. We have set protocols and seamlessly go from standard service to “Plan B.” We have bad-weather accounts that usually don’t get on the regular schedule; these are kept for just such an occasion. We employ products or methods not hindered by the label restrictions.
Remember, it’s never raining inside. Make use of this time to reconnect with clients you may not have seen for a while. If all else fails or you truly are caught off guard, there’s always time for training or an impromptu company lunch. Team building is never a waste of time, and perhaps an afternoon of bowling would be a good way to spend a soggy afternoon.
Avoid the temptation to announce “Let’s clean the trucks” or some other bleak task. It will make an already dreary day downright awful for employee morale (unless, perhaps, lunch or competitive prizes are involved).
Another option is to just send your crew home. You can use the quiet time to think and establish a viable plan for the next time a rainy day hits.
Tips from the Pest Cemetery crew
“When severe, inclement weather is not conducive to field operations, we redirect staff to training. Our techs are paid to learn, and often we can focus on extended training for specific pests or new products. I’m never upset when inclement weather rolls in. It’s a win-win for all.”
— William Chandler, Owner, 360PestControl, Jacksonville, Fla.
“Reason No. 867 I do the jobs others refuse to do: For restaurants, my ‘slow season’ is never actually that slow — although the quarantine made things a little touch-and-go this spring. Regardless, the weather makes little to no difference.”
— Annmarie Pristera, Owner, Intelligent Pest Control, New York, N.Y.
“Separate billing from service, and it becomes a non-issue. Develop a legitimate service protocol for adverse weather that is not only legal, but effective.”
— Michael Spellman, Owner, Sigma Pest Control, Fredericksburg, Va.
“We run commercial accounts part of the day, then have a company lunch, followed by the rest of the day at a shooting range. This way, we have money coming in; we eat and discuss work; then play and enjoy.”
— Brad Ulanowski, Owner, Termite King Pest Control, Haslet, Texas
SCHAPPERT is owner of The Bug Doctor, Ocala, Fla., and administrator for Facebook industry discussion group Pest Cemetery. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.