Sunny skies are on the horizon, according to the respondents of Pest Management Professional’s (PMP’s) 2023 State of the Industry (SOI) survey.
Many business owners have struggled to find and keep workers, a problem exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our SOI survey shows 90 percent of the pest management professional (PMP) respondents expect to retain at least 76 percent of their employees in 2023, about the same as last year’s results.
PMPs are finding creative ways to shore-up their staffs. Competitive pay, bonuses, benefits, training, career advancement opportunities, and a desirable work environment are just some of the tips from survey respondents.
“Right now, almost every company is hiring technicians,” says William Woodhouse, technical specialist for Ecoshield Pest Solutions in Denver, Colo. “It’s all about setting your company apart, whether it’s better pay, benefits, company outings, bonuses, or all of the above. You have to set yourself apart to generate interest from PMPs who are already employed.”
Joe Sheehan, CEO of Colony Pest Management in Brooklyn, N.Y., is among the PMPs who provide desirable benefits to employees. Paid time off for vacations, holidays and sick days; medical, dental and vision care insurance; paid life insurance; and 401(k) with a company match are just a few of the many perks his company offers employees. He ensures job postings for positions at the company mention the range of benefits available.
Trent Heard, owner of RedHawk Pest Control in Madison, Ala., is an advocate for training and education because, as he notes, “we always should be learning.”
“There’s a big difference between 10 years of experience, or one year of experience and repeating it 10 times. Having a positive growth mindset is key,” Heard adds. “But how can employees go out and achieve greatness if they aren’t confident in themselves and the services they provide?”
Heard recommends management give employees room to work, and support them fully when they do what they were trained to do.
“Contrary to the popular saying, the customer is not always right,” Heard quips. “Nothing will kill your company culture faster than an owner or manager who will throw a team member under the bus just to pacify an unreasonable client.”
Jeff King, president of The Pest Rangers in Hanover Township, Pa., says he believes company culture plays an important role in gaining, and keeping, employees. He says because his employees enjoy what they do, and know management is flexible when needed, they tend to stay on the job.
“It comes down to understanding,” King adds. “People have family. People get sick, people sometimes have to do things during work hours. That’s one good thing about the service business, especially for the guys who are on the road. You can work around people’s schedules.”
King encourages his employees to work together as a team.
“In our office, I hate when people say ‘I.’ I would rather they say ‘we,’” he explains. “I redirect people to say ‘we’ instead of ‘I’ because we’re all in this together.”
King’s efforts pay off in employees who work well together and enjoy what they do. Indeed, it’s not uncommon for the technicians who service
The Pest Rangers’ commercial accounts to get asked, “Is your company hiring?” during their service calls.
“Your employees are your best recruiters,” King notes.
INFLATION’S SILVER LINING
For Sheehan, inflation has had a positive impact on attracting potential workers. “We used to get 40 percent of job candidates actually show up for their scheduled interviews. That was after each submitted his/her resume, spoke with us on the phone, filled out a job application, took our behavioral assessment, and agreed to come in for an interview,” he says. “Now, almost 80 percent are showing up for interviews.”
Customer retention for the pest control industry is solid: 95 percent of survey respondents project they will retain more than 75 percent of their customers in 2023. Last year’s results were similar.
Philip Smith, president of Compass Pest Management in Cornelia, Ga., says PMPs must do their part to ensure customers realize the critical importance of the work they provide.
“Pest control is not a service of convenience, it’s a service of necessity,” Smith says. “The sooner we embrace this truth, and teach our technicians and office staff to effectively convey this message, the better off both the pest control business and homeowners will be.”
One more trend on the horizon: The Pest Rangers’ King predicts that the days of having a dedicated sales staff on the payroll are numbered, as more technicians out in the field are proving their pest control knowledge and customer relationships are big sales pluses. “Your technicians are your best salespeople,” he says.