Clean, organized vehicles show you care

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October 19, 2022

Jerry Schappert

Jerry Schappert

Many years ago, I worked for a small, but oh-so-busy pest and termite control company. The general pest control division was run like a top by my boss, Jimmy.

APPEARANCES MATTER

Within a couple days of being hired, I was given a set of personalized dress shirts. I was then told to turn in all the shirts I wore during the week for professional cleaning. What? Who does this? But Jimmy was very meticulous, and he wanted all of his workers to present his company in its best light.

The same rang true for his trucks: They looked sharp darting around town with an eye-catching logo. We each were given a weekly ticket to use at a car wash because, as Jimmy would say, “a clean ride makes me money.”

Tools were not just stored in some open box where dusters and the like were thrown in, only to be buried with other equipment and possibly never used again until they were unearthed one day. They were standard boxes, but compartmentalized so each tool had its place. No matter how many potholes you hit, the tools were in the same spot when you opened the toolbox lid.

ADVERSE CUSTOMER REACTION

Something else Jimmy provided for us was a weekly newsletter. As a product of its time, it was a simple black-and-white printout, stapled at the top left corner. It had articles about pests, products, changes to laws, and the like. There was one particular issue with a cover story that Jimmy insisted we all read and keep in mind because it went right along with his philosophy.

The title of the cover story was, “It looked like he didn’t care” and it was illustrated with a black-and-white drawing of a tech wearing an untucked, wrinkled shirt and carrying a dripping sprayer. Overall, he looked disheveled. The article was written from a housewife’s perspective and the impression she got from a tech who treated her home. She was less than impressed with his appearance.

But she also went on to describe his company truck. Now, this was almost 35 years ago, but the gist of the story as I remember it was the truck was in disarray, with hoses hanging over the side and sprayers rolling around in the bed. When the tech opened the truck’s door to get the service ticket, wrappers and cups from just about every fast food place in town spilled onto the customer’s driveway.

The customer said the tech was nice and seemed to get the job done, but she couldn’t help but wonder: If he treats his truck that way, how’s he going to treat my home? The article ended with an observation that provided the title. It went something like: “Appearances matter and first impressions last the longest. In this instance, it just looks like he didn’t care.”

Fast-forward to today, and you’ll find all my Bug Doctor trucks clean and sharp. I’m happy to say this trend is widespread in the industry. In my Pest Cemetery Facebook Group, I ran a contest and the premise was simple: Who has the sharpest, cleanest, most organized rides? It did my heart good to see all the pictures of so many great setups; the judges had a hard time choosing the winners.

Ultimately, the winners were crowned (Editor’s Note: See “Photo Finish” for more details), but for anyone who participated or shares this philosophy, kudos to you. Jimmy would be proud.


The Pest Cemetery crew

“I have found it to be important that when a client sees the inside of my truck, that it is clean and orderly. It shows that I take what I do seriously. Like a clean uniform, your service vehicle should send a positive and professional image.”
— Brent Towle, Master Technician and Owner, Spectrum Pest Control Eco-Tech, Kenosha, Wis.

“A properly organized service vehicle will save you time and reduce product waste.”
— Dave Raymond, Field Technician, Anchor Pest Services, Manchester, N.H.

“Being organized promotes safety, yourself and your brand.”
— Shaun Funk, Regional Operations Manager for Texas and Oklahoma, RK Environmental Services, Westwood, N.J.

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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