Strategies for clearing the next hurdles


September 1, 2021


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Pest control is just one of many industries that is having difficulty finding employees in 2021. Yet according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the unemployment rate was 5.8 percent as of July 14, a figure that is not particularly alarming. Why, then, is it so difficult to find workers?

Like many of our colleagues, ABC Home & Commercial Services is struggling to get job candidates to come in and apply for work. We also are concerned about retaining our current team. To make sure we can carry on with business as uninterrupted as possible, we are considering the six following strategies to boost hiring and retention:

  • To provide an incentive, we are offering a signing bonus and referral bonus. For the signing bonus, we give a small portion to the new hire and a significant portion at the end of the new hire’s 120 days on the job. We give the referral fee to the team members who recommend family and friends. We break that up by giving them one-fourth of the payment upon the new hire’s acceptance of the job, and three-fourths at that end of the pay period.
  • To seek new potential “unknowns,” we are opening up an apprenticeship opportunity to the younger work force. We want to provide the opportunity for potential pest management professionals to learn about our business.
  • To be competitive with wages, we are re-evaluating the salaries we offer at each of our service lines. We are looking at all job search websites that potential employees in our area use, to learn what similar employers are offering potential candidates. Then, we can decide whether we need to raise our rates to be competitive — or at least know our pay is in line with, or better than, what other employers in our area pay workers.
  • To be efficient, we added staff to our recruitment team. It takes time to check out different job search websites, review job applications, and engage in the interview process. These tasks can’t all fall on the human resources department.
  • To be competitive with benefits, we are reviewing our current personal time off (PTO), health care, and 401(k) matching offerings. My “old school” way of thinking that being away from your job for extended periods of time means you really aren’t needed doesn’t fare well. But PTO costs money, so we are analyzing how much more PTO we can afford to offer while still being competitive with other industries. We already offer full healthcare benefits, but we will be reviewing other options from the employee perspective when we renew our plan this fall. The other benefit we will analyze is our 401(k) matching. Can we match at a higher rate? Is that even a competitive factor? We are adding this conversation to our recruitment process.
  • To provide the opportunity to work from home, we use flex hours with a 3:2 work schedule. We have a Monday-to-Wednesday rotation, and a Tuesday-to-Thursday rotation, with everyone working from home on Friday. We found this to be well received by our customer service representative (CSR) staff. It also allows our administrative team to be able to see that team face-to-face on a weekly basis and make that connection, which is vital.


In addition to hiring and retention, other hurdles I didn’t anticipate include the shortage of supplies and the disruption in the supply chain. For instance, our Houston office services swimming pools, and chlorine is in extremely short supply. So, we have to adapt our processes and sales tactics. And like many of you, we are dealing with the limited availability of vehicles. We have to get better at being proactive and planning ahead. While these hurdles are out of our control, we still have to figure out how to deal with them.

At the end of the day, these new challenges definitely are having an impact on my business, and I don’t have all the answers. However, I know our attitude toward the hurdles we endure makes all the difference.

Our team is used to adapting; every day presents new challenges, even during “normal” times. We remain grateful that the pest control industry was deemed an essential service during the pandemic.

About the Author

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JENKINS, who rotates this column with his brothers Bobby and Dennis, is president of ABC Home & Commercial Services, Houston, Texas. He can be reached at

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