Observations on the general economy

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May 11, 2022

Jerry Schappert

Jerry Schappert

While we appear to be just now coming out of a two-year global pandemic, business couldn’t be better. 2020 for my little firm was a banner year, despite all the uncertainty. We crushed our yearly goals, and could barely keep up. 2021 was a repeat of the same. 2022 has only begun, and we’re ahead of even that. Who knew?

CUSTOMER BEHAVIOR

I’m not an economist by any stretch of imagination, but I can tell you my observations as I deal with hundreds of customers in any given month.

There seems to be very little pushback from people as they spend money to retain my service. We offer free quotes over the phone, and as we barely start describing what we do, prospective customers resoundingly say, “Yes, sign me up!”

I’ve also sold more preventive termite work than I can ever remember doing. $1,500 pitches in the past would have been met with, “I’ll have to talk to my spouse,” but now, it’s barely a concern.
It’s not just our services customers are gobbling up, either. When I’m at a customer’s home drilling out an abutting slab, I have to squeeze between the house and a new boat or RV. Or I have to ask them to move their new toy — like jet skis or a four-wheeler — out of the garage.

Customers also seem to be retaining companies for all sorts of services — like landscaping, house painting, remodeling — and it just doesn’t seem to fit with what the state of the economy looks like on paper.

In addition, people who were told to work from home seem to be in happier economic moods, now that they made the adjustment. Perhaps it’s the savings on commuting, or maybe it’s the deals they now seal while still in their pajamas.

While you would think productivity would take a hit, it seems just the opposite. For example, my neighbor is an accountant, and used to get up and out of the house early every day wearing a suit and tie. Now, he’s been home doing the same job, but getting it done early, and signs off every day at 3 p.m. rather than rolling in at 5:30 p.m.

PREPARE FOR THE FUTURE

Still, all bubbles burst. We need only look back 14 years to the last time this happened. Many of us were caught off-guard, and really took a hit.

Again, I’m no economist, but I agree with the saying, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

So, as rosy as the spending and comfort levels seem to be, my last observation may be the most important one: People seem to be saving more now than in quite some time. The media tells of record numbers of people who, if they can, are saving money. People who are saving seem to be paying off debt. Maybe we won’t have financial amnesia this time and won’t get caught by surprise. Instead, it looks like folks are being smart and taking advantage of this opportunity. They’re making hay while the sun shines.


The Pest Cemetery Crew

“This is a great time to build stronger relationships with our clients. The more we prove we care, the more accepting our clients will be with price adjustments to reflect the current economy.”
— Chris Monroe, Owner, Grand Rapids Pest Control, Grand Rapids, Mich.

“I started about six months ago. My prices have increased since I started because I saw prices starting to rise across the board, but not in a major way. I found a happy medium price-wise, and am doing very well.”
— Jean Rivera, Owner, Evergreen Professional Pest Control Inc., Citrus Springs, Fla.

“Regardless of the economy, inflation is temporary and your reputation is forever. Never forget that as an owner. Adapt and overcome.”
— Richard Dudkiewicz, Veteran Owner, Elite Pest Services, Tampa Bay, Fla.

“As an owner and operator, in these times I have learned to build quality over quantity. For example, I condense routes to smaller areas. Like one of my customers said, ‘Quality service for an affordable price.’”
— Mark Whorton, Owner, Whorton’s Pest Control, Owens Cross Roads, Ala.

About the Author

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

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