To scale a business, it’s a simple formula: You have to be able to duplicate what brings you success. For a widget maker, the formula is fairly easy: Make 1,000 quality widgets, one after another, and you’ll most likely have 1,000 happy clients. Well, maybe more like 990 — there are always going to be a few unhappy campers.
In the service world, it’s still the same formula, but not at all as easy to employ. Treat 1,000 accounts, and my guess is you’d have a very high number of mixed reactions about what they received. “The technician was too fast.” “She couldn’t answer my question.” “He left footprints on the floor.” “I still am seeing bugs.”
The problem is, in my mind, twofold:
- No two accounts are exactly alike. What may work at one property may be a total bust at another. On top of that, no two clients are alike. Some are demanding and unrealistic. Others may be laidback or happy-go-lucky. Some may be both, depending on which day you visit!
- Service success has too many variables. No technician is going to be able to reel off 1,000 services exactly the same. We have good days and bad days. We’re running behind. Our equipment is faulty. The list goes on.
Hopefully more often than not, we’re on top of the world and not a thing is on our mind except performing at our highest level — and our customers love us as a result. If service were a widget, this would be the one we’d want to duplicate. So, how do we get there?
There are plenty of workable approaches, more than I have space for here. That said, I will give you what I believe are four of the most important:
1. Sing from the same hymnal. Everyone in your organization should communicate with clients at a similar level. Speak the same entomological language, so no one is miscommunicating, talking down to a client, talking over a client’s head, etc. Accomplish this with written leave-behinds and recurring training.
2. Educate, educate, educate. Piggybacking on the above, both your clients and your team should be armed with technical knowledge and understand why your company does what it does and charges what it charges.
3. Provide the right tools for the job. This isn’t just about tools and materials, it’s also about providing the time your team needs to realistically get a job done right.
4. Dress for success. Look sharp, and the client is automatically confident in your service. Is it fair? Maybe not. But it’s true.
If you want to be the best pest control firm around, you have to have the desire to instill these — and perhaps many more — precepts in your company. It almost always starts at the top. If it’s lost anywhere along the chain, your value will diminish.
Overall, I believe our industry is heading in this positive direction. Today’s customers expect nothing less. With that in mind, what will you do this year that will take your team to the next level?
Tips from the Pest Cemetery crew
“Customers may not like to be sold, but they do love to buy. God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we should listen twice as much as we speak.”
— Chris Colbert, Gulf Region Quality Auditor, Terminix, Gulfport, Miss.
“Sell yourself. Earn the customer’s trust. Identify the need. Offer a solution. In everything you do, reflect value. If you reflect the value you have for your customer, your job and the services you provide, the customer will see the meaning of value.”
— Doug Dempler, Service Technician, McCloud Services, Indianapolis, Ind.
“Selling a job isn’t always just selling a job. It’s about selling yourself — and yourself as a pest control professional is a huge part of what the value is.”
— Phil Tubbs, Owner, BugBros Pest Control NEOK, Tulsa, Okla.
“Quality is doing a job that takes care of the problem. Value is making them want you past the point of the job you’re hired for.”
— Nathan Watson, Owner, Watson’s Pest Solutions, Carlisle, Ky.
SCHAPPERT is owner of The Bug Doctor, Ocala, Fla., and administrator for Facebook industry discussion group Pest Cemetery. He may be reached at email@example.com.