Sell with a service — as appropriate


December 15, 2021

Jerry Schappert

Jerry Schappert, owner, The Bug Doctor

I absolutely hate taking my truck in to get an oil change. In fact, I’ll trade vehicles for the day and let one of my techs do it for me whenever possible. That way, he can just look at the oil service tech and say, “No, the boss says oil only.”

When I go, this “5-minute” service turns into a 20-minute barrage of upsells:

“Looks like you’ll need a new air filter.” Hmm, in my experience, a blast of cold air would make that filter as good as new.

“Oh, windshield wipers not working so well, I see.” Wait, didn’t you replace those 5,000 miles ago? Or is that just what the script tells you to say, regardless of what you’ve done for my vehicle in the past?

“And did you want the standard oil, or can we fix you up with our premium synthetics today?” Just change my oil, please!

If they had their way, by the time I get out of there my $29.99 speedy service is well up over 100 bucks.


photo: fstop123/E+/Getty Images

Your technician’s arrival should put customers at ease that their pest problems are going to be addressed, and not dreading the thought of having to sit through a sales pitch after treatment. Photo: fstop123/E+/Getty Images

Don’t get me wrong. I agree that sales are the lifeblood of any company. Without them, our businesses couldn’t exist. Yet when I receive the “hard sell,” I almost always feel as if I’ve been duped.

At my company, I never want my clients to feel this way. I discourage my techs from selling in this fashion. Rather, I believe a more targeted sales approach can be a win-win for everyone. Who else is on the front lines and knows that structure better than your tech? They see the ins and outs, and notice problems — potential and current — on a daily basis. This doesn’t happen with your average customer service rep, or even the salesperson who may have originally sold the job. Nope, it’s your trusted service technician upon whom you depend to do a good job and uphold your good name.

Our technicians’ primary goal is to service the account, not mindlessly upsell every account based on a cookie-cutter approach that equates to “Do you want fries with that?” Instead, they’re trained to look for ways to help individual customers prevent potential issues.


Take, for example, the notion that Mrs. Smith is having a big outdoor shindig this weekend. Her technician could offer a mosquito treatment to ensure the event is pest-free. Or what about elderly Mr. Jones, whose crawlspace walls, upon inspection, are starting to retain more moisture than they should? If that’s not a service your company offers, let him know of a trustworthy contractor that could give him a reasonable estimate — one who also has you on a referral list when they encounter pests.

These types of opportunities pop up all the time, and when they do, it’s nice to have a service expert who can offer a solution.

I don’t want my people focused on selling synthetics while good old-fashioned elbow grease is barely applied.

Tips from the Pest Cemetery crew

“Service first, and your service will sell more services. If your techs focus on selling first, they’ll run the risk of slacking on the original services sold.” — Adrian Boldt, Owner, AJ’s Animal Control and Pest Prevention, Franksville, Wis.

“Service is selling.” — James Miller, ACE, PCO Market Manager, Trécé Inc., Adair, Okla.

“Technicians make the best sales reps. I won’t hire techs who can’t communicate effectively. Effective communication, plus the knowledge of servicing, equals great revenue brought in by those on the front line.” — Joey Polster, Owner, Legacy Pest Management, Smyrna, Tenn.

“Service and sell: The technician is trained to identify the problem and provide a solution, whether it be a home modification or an additional service.” — Paul Potts, Owner, Potts Pest Control, Ocala, Fla.

About the Author

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SCHAPPERT is owner of The Bug Doctor, Ocala, Fla., and administrator for Facebook industry discussion group Pest Cemetery. He may be reached at

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