Editor’s Note: This is an extended conversation with Mickey Thomas, who handles Customer Care and Inside Sales for Arrow Exterminators. An abridged version appears in PMP’s Anniversary issue.
Mickey Thomas is a senior vice president of Customer Care and Inside Sales for Arrow Exterminators, based in Atlanta Ga. Thomas oversees all business data reporting; inside sales data reporting and budgets; and administrative training and reporting. She leads a team of 40 that directly manage more than 500 employees.
Thomas’ passion for training and innovation have given her multiple opportunities to serve in leadership roles for the company, beginning in 2007. The professional highlight achievement that she received in 2019 was being promoted to join the executive committee for Arrow Exterminators.
Outside of work, Thomas participates in many conferences as part of the National Pest Management Association’s (NPMA’s) Business Innovations Committee, Leadership Networking Community Council, and Professional Women in Pest Management Council. She has been honored with several awards, including the NPMA’s Impact Award for Women in Pest Management two years in a row. Thomas also enjoys spending time with her husband and children, working in the yard, shopping, and watching her daughter compete in Jiu Jitsu.
Q. What drew you to the pest control business? I came from a background of owning my own business. When I was looking for a new career, two things were important to me: a family-oriented environment and opportunity for growth. When I found Arrow, I was willing to overlook the fact that I was terrified of bugs! That’s because I was happy, I found a culture that was important to me. I grew to love being in the “bug business.”
Q. Looking back, do you have a favorite job you held during your career? My current role as a Senior VP of Customer Care and Inside Sales, because I get to interact with all aspects of the company. I’m a people person and my passion is customer service and experience.
Q. If you had to pick just one characteristic as to why you’ve been so successful, what is it and why? I firmly believe hard work pays off. I take pride in everything I do.
Q. Do you consider yourself in introvert or extrovert? Would others agree? Extrovert all day long. I go out of my way to make people feel special and I have never met a stranger.
Q. Can you think of a time you handled a tricky customer or employee situation? What did you do? An after-hours call came in with an upset customer not understanding her billing and wanting to cancel her service. I explained in detail how the billing cycle generates to reassure her, and I gave her my personal number to reach out anytime she needs to. I also added her to my calendar to reach out to her after every service to make sure she was satisfied with the service. With this experience came referrals, along with a great friendship.
Q. Are there any rules you live by when dealing with customers and team members? Be empathetic and listen to what they have to say. Always have a smile on your face, even when they can’t see it.
Q. What do you feel your role is in mentoring others into leadership roles in the company? This is one of my primary responsibilities as a leader. I always have my eye on top talent. I go out of my way to recognize others’ strengths and look for opportunities to help them grow. One of my favorite questions to ask our team members and my team is “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Because I started as an administrator in one of our local offices, I’m a good example of how hard work and dedication truly pay off, and that goals are always reachable. I love sharing my journey with new team members.
Q. Let’s talk about overcoming challenges. Have you ever been so afraid of success that you didn’t go for it? I thrive for challenging the perimeter of success for myself as well as my team.
Q. The fear of failure can cause people to stop trying. Is there a time you can recall failing at something? How did you move on? Were there any lessons learned? I have had many failures, but I can’t recall a time that I didn’t look at it as an opportunity to grow. I try not to beat myself up. I’d rather move forward.
Q. Have you ever had a big win, promotion or success that ultimately didn’t lead you where you expected? I started as an entry-level administrator to now being a senior vice president of Arrow’s Customer Care and Inside Sales, which means I’m also a part of Arrow’s executive team. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect this much opportunity. Each promotion that I have received has led me down a different path then what I have expected, but I can’t imagine my career any other way. They are all big wins in my book.
Q. Is there any specific time in your career when you were down? How did you battle back? Have you had to work through a professional plateau? No. My career has always provided opportunities — even when I least expected it.
Q. Let’s delve into how you have managed to balance your personal life with work. Has it been a challenge? Yes, this has been a challenge for me at times. However, I have learned that taking time for myself and spending time with my family helps me be the best version of myself.
Q. What is your routine for self-care?I love to pamper myself and I make it a priority. If you need me on a Saturday, you will find me at a spa of some sort!
Q. What is your guilty pleasure? I love taking a Sunday drive in my Bronco and having Chick-fil-A at least once a week.
Q. Is there anything else you want to share? This year, I celebrate 25 years with my husband, Steve. The past couple years we have developed a new perspective on building a new chapter as we have become empty nesters recently. We also enjoy remodeling projects — or shall I say “I love to direct new projects around our home!”