Just ask: It’s free and worth way more


January 16, 2024

Bob Williamson

Bob Williamson

Almost every pest management professional (PMP) I speak with is looking to increase sales without spending more on advertising. The most common solution is to sell additional services to your existing customers on services you can provide with current resources without significant incremental costs.

We see examples of this every day. Ordering “fries with your burger” is the most referenced example. Here are some other non-pest examples:

  • Upgrades on car washes to include wax and tires.
  • Improved seats when you travel by air or rail.
  • Hair products offered when you are getting a haircut.
  • Appetizers before ordering dinner.
  • Desserts after eating dinner.
  • New wiper blades when your vehicle is serviced.

All these examples provide customer value while increasing gross margin without additional investment.

The ability to consistently make these incremental sales is what we need to focus on.

The answer is one simple word: Ask!

Coaching staff to ask is what we need to do. The ability to process rejection is what matters.

Most successful people do not let rejection define them. They let their reaction to rejection define themselves. Sports is a great example of how this works:

  • Baseball players are successful when they get one hit of three at-bats.
  • Most basketball players miss more than half the shots they take.
  • Golfers typically don’t make the green in regulation.
  • Soccer and hockey goals are scored on a small percentage of shots on goal.

Successful people learn that processing rejection is how to improve results. Asking every customer contact if they want a mosquito application added to their routine service will result in increased sales without additional cost. The companies that can stay disciplined in their approach of asking will see a large increase in gross margin.

Tracking rejection can make this fun and not allow rejection to stop additional effort. I have run campaigns where I incentivize staff by paying for “The Ask” vs. the sale. The unconventional measure brings attention to the process. It teaches people that the amount of rejection they actually experience is far less than they perceive it to be. It will result in discussions of how to respond to a “no.” It will make the awkward moments feel normal and allow opportunities to improve your process.

The ability to stay quiet after you ask for something is the hardest part for most people. Allowing the person to say no without handling objections makes it a better process.

I’ll end with an example I recently dealt with firsthand: My wife and I recently attended a movie at a nearby community theater. While buying our tickets, we were asked about becoming a supporting member. The ask was reasonable. Although we save a little money on future tickets, the real benefit is supporting the theater we routinely enjoy. This was after we were solicited by emails repeatedly asking for the same thing.

Asking is free and it works.


About the Author

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Williamson is pest & lawn director for Cetane Associates. He serves on the Pennsylvania Pesticide Advisory Board, is former president of the Lawn Care Association of Pennsylvania and former president of Warrington PA Rotary Club. For over 30 years, Williamson worked with Moyer, a large Mid-Atlantic residential service provider. Williamson has managed services including heating oil, propane, HVAC, plumbing, home security, swimming pool, lawn and tree care, and pest control.

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