Take control of cancelations


March 14, 2023

Photo: vichie81/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Photo: vichie81/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

I’ve seen some crazy reasons for cancelations. We’ve had customers cancel because the technician was too late, too early, too fast, too slow, missed one tiny weed in the farthest corner of the yard, etc. And that’s just on the technician end of my business.

Uncovering the real reasons

I believe most of the time, the answer given is not really the reason someone cancels. Rather, it is a convenient excuse to mask the real reason or avoid conflict. Cancelations happen; they are a part of every customer service business. But if we don’t have at least some sort of strategy in mind, they can and will get out of hand.

Money rarely is the impetus for a cancelation. I live in Florida, the retirement capital of the world, and many of my clients are on fixed incomes. My company just implemented a stout price increase, and with one month of higher prices under our belt, I can think of only two customers who just couldn’t stomach the increase. One incurred just a $5 increase and man, she acted like it was the end of the world. However, it was fairly apparent her reason for canceling went deeper than that: One of our techs left for greener pastures and she just loved him. So, I think money wasn’t the issue at all.

Managing the changes

How can you keep cancelations to a minimum? You can’t fix what you don’t see is broken. With today’s powerful business management software, information about your company’s cancelations can be one or two clicks away.

It’s best to have cancelation reports printed out and plopped on your desk daily, weekly or monthly — you decide. But once you know a cancelation has occurred, you can take some action.

Jerry Schappert

Jerry Schappert

A soft word turns away wrath is an old proverb, but it has served me well. Many times, when customers are in the process of canceling, they are upset or angry. If you or your staff choose to respond in a negative manner, it will be like putting the final touches on that grave. Instead, be as kind as you can. Listen to what they are saying. See if there’s some way a cancelation can be avoided. Again, the reason they give often is not at the heart of the matter.

Finally, make a personal call or visit to see whether the account can be saved. One of my old bosses, a mentor, never hesitated to sit across the desk at a huge commercial account, or on a living room chair at a little old lady’s home, to do anything and everything he could to keep that client. He led by example. He also taught me that every account has a lifespan, and to let go of those who needed to be let go. So, for as much as he taught me, I hope these lessons will help you as well.

Tips from the Pest Cemetery Crew

“Exterior service has helped us treat more people in a timely manner, which has made us more money. But it comes at the cost of that personal touch and our clients getting to know us. Provide a personal touch.”
— Charlie Sims, Master Pest Control Technician, Cayce Exterminating, Cayce, S.C.

“Offer an additional service in conjunction with their current service. For example, if a customer has pest control only and wants to cancel, offer a free mosquito, rodent bait station or snail service for three to six months if they continue service.”
— Jason Shelton, Owner, Allure Pest Management, Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.

“I like to call and first, thank them for being a customer and second, ask, ‘Is there anything we could do better to help us save this relationship?’ It has not always worked, but I’ve had people call back years later and become customers again for many years.”
— Keith Romer, Owner, All Pro Pest Control, Layton, Utah

“Being in touch with the customer and making them feel we care is important.”
— Raja Mahendran, Founder, International Pest Business Consultant, Sydney, Australia

“One word: listen. If you ever need to ask a customer why they canceled, you did not listen. Too often, pest control is a rat race to get to the next stop, and we forget this concept.”
— Sean Plucinik, ACE, PHE, Owner, Maury County Pest Control, Maury County, Tenn.

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 bugdoctor@embarqmail.com.

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