I remember my first day out on the job with our service manager: It was a disaster.
Although it was my first day out in the field, it was not my first day of training. For three months, I sat in a small room and watched videos and read books — lots and lots of books. One day, the service manager came in and said, “You’re riding with me.” And boy, was I ready.
Unforgettable first time
Our first stop was at a residential ant account. Immediately, the upset customer started berating us up one side and down the other. After what seemed like forever, the service manager asked me to go upstairs and treat — probably just to get me away from the woman’s tirade.
This was my first time ever touching a sprayer. Yes, I read about using one and watched a ton of footage showing how to use one. But there I was, all alone, trying to get my liquid mix in just the right spots. While the service manager was still getting verbally accosted in the living room, I used my company-issued flashlight and dutifully hit every crack and crevice I could find. Thankfully, the customer’s tirade subsided and we were able to get to it but wow, what a first encounter! I think back on it and how this experience never really ended; it stays with me to this day.
There are a lot of schools of thought on just how to get pest management professionals (PMPs) out on their own, and successfully solve problems and prevent pests. Some take the new hire out the very first day and dive right in. Other companies, usually the larger ones, have an entire training process that can last a week or more. When training is finished, the new PMP shadows a tech on a route to see firsthand how it’s done. Gradually, they do more and more until one day, they get the keys to the truck.
Personally, I believe a standardized training process is your best option. Provide training the same way with each new hire, and in a way that truly helps them see the vision of how your company works. Have a written training process with accountability, such as passing tests. True, you’ll always need to provide some retraining here and there if a bad habit shows itself, but in my opinion, you’ve given that guy or gal every opportunity to succeed. It’s a win-win.
After 37 years of working in the pest control industry, I’m still learning and taking training classes, partly due to the unsatisfied customer I first told you about. You see, about a week later, my branch manager called me into his office and showed me a letter. It was a scathing rebuke of how I sprayed upstairs, and even went into all her closets. I was shocked! The manager slipped the paper into my file, where I’m sure it sits to this day. From that day forward, I vowed never to get such a letter again, and immersed myself even deeper into training and learning.
Thank you, dear lady, for a lesson I’ve never forgotten.
The Pest Cemetery Crew
“Licensed training doesn’t necessarily provide the sort of customer skills a good tech needs. Competent supervision is important, and the supervisor must be willing to learn and have up-to-date knowledge.”
— Dr. Don Ewart, Pest Trainer, The Institute of Pest Risk Management, Melbourne, Australia
“Do we train employees simply for them to pass a test? The purpose of training is to get the best results while they’re performing their job. Training is an investment, not a cost.”
— Daniel Dye II, ACE-Emeritus, Daniel D Dye Pest Management Consultant LLC, Brooker, Fla.
“For 30 to 45 days, I train new techs on the routes they will be servicing, and then at least once a week for a few months thereafter.”
— Timmy Horvath, Owner, CareFree Pest Solutions, Sarasota, Fla.
“Train them how to use their tools — tools being educational resources, equipment and communication skills. Teach them how to manage their route with realistic expectations.”
— Doug Dempler, Service Technician, McCloud Services, Indianapolis, Ind.
“Teach them to break down a job into sections, which equates to more detail.”
— Max Scainetti, Head Technician, Alabama Termite & Pest Services, Lillian, Ala.