How Exit Interviews Can Improve Your Termite Service – PCT

If someone wrote a book about your business, what story would it tell?

Fred Strickland Jr., board-certified entomologist and vice president of customer experience at Waynes, Birmingham, Ala., posed this question during his presentation at the National Pest Management Association’s PestWorld 2020 virtual conference.

Strickland spent nearly 35 years in pest control as a second-generation PMP before changing careers: At the time of his PestWorld presentation, he was a senior manager at facilities maintenance company Miner Corporation in Dallas. He returned to the pest control industry in December 2020 when he took up his current position with Waynes.

In a way, Strickland said, a PMP writes the book about their business every day. He quoted a poem by Paul Gilbert: “You write a gospel, a chapter each day. By the deeds you do, by the words you say. Men read what you write, whether it’s unfaithful or true; Say, what do you think the gospel is?

If PMPs think of the building blocks of their business like chapters in a book, they can get a better overview of their business identity and identify areas where it can improve and grow. Strickland outlined seven chapters for a successful business based on his career in and outside the pest control industry.

Chapter 1: Why are you in business? The first question PMPs need to ask themselves, Strickland said, is why they started their business in the first place.

“Are you going to build something?” He asked. “Are you going to make a living, make money and help others too?” Do you provide an essential service? »

Strickland cautioned against staying “inside the box” when defining a business. Often, he said, companies “fall into the sea of ​​similarity.” To avoid this, owners need to differentiate what sets their business apart.

Strickland used the challenges of the 2020 pandemic as an example of working off the beaten track, with conferences going virtual and employees working remotely. He urged PMPs to reflect on how this upheaval has taught them how to grow in business.

Every business has its unique fingerprint, Strickland said. PMPs should strive to leave an impression that satisfies customers. And if not, “What can you do to clean up that fingerprint and make sure the right one is given so that they not only taste good, but the service was so well done that recommend you to a neighbor, friend or family member in a heartbeat?

Chapter 2: Core Values. Next, PMPs must clearly define their core values, the principles that guide a company’s actions. These values ​​boil down to the core of a company’s leadership team, Strickland said. PMPs need to ensure they are integrated into every customer experience and employee interaction.

“You want to be aggressively authentic, not pie-in-the-sky,” Strickland said. “It’s not a marketing pirouette of ‘Oh, that sounds good.’ Or you pick it up off the internet from a social media page. The key is, why did you choose this? And what does it mean for you and your associates in the form of action?”

When determining core values, Strickland said PMPs should analyze both the tangible and intangible aspects of the business. “Tangible things, we know, are things you can measure,” he said. “OK, we’ve got 200 customers, we’ve got $1 million in the bank. We can measure by the month, by the day. We have a 5%, 10% growth plan. We can budget it. We can achieve it. C is something you can see and write about.

Intangible aspects include why employees want to work at a company. Paying attention to both the tangible and the intangible helps develop “a place where team members can feel part of something much bigger than themselves,” Strickland said. “They are fighting for something: higher and better cost, not for the owner, not for the manager, but for the customer, for their family, for whoever is right or left in the trenches with them. “

Chapter 3: Battle Cards. PMPs must then assess their business model. Having a successful business is all about math, Strickland said. The question is: what should be measured?

“What are the three or five important things you see or look at every morning? These are things that you can put on a daily operating report or a weekly operating report,” he said. Examples include a profit and loss statement, the number of customers served each day, the percentage a business wants to grow in a month or a year, or customer retention statistics.

Successful professionals should also research their competitors. Drawing inspiration from his past as an athlete, Strickland has developed a unique competitor analysis. When Strickland was playing basketball, he once came across a “fight card” that a rival team had created for him. “[It said] that I was right-handed; I couldn’t dribble very well on my left hand. True,” he said. “I was better off shooting 15 feet from the basket. I was a center. And the idea was to get statistics about me and information. But it revealed my weaknesses; it revealed my strengths.

Strickland asked PMPs to consider a competitor battle map that included information such as their target market, products, strengths and weaknesses. Then, he flipped that concept on its head. “Here’s my twist: don’t think of it as the companies you fight with every day,” he said. “What if you write one about your company, write one about your staff, or have a competitor’s battle card on you?”

Chapter 4: Communicating basic concepts. PMPs are already familiar with the basic concepts and principles of pest control. But how can they communicate them to customers in an easily digestible way?

Take the time to answer customer questions and put them at ease, Strickland said. Company team members need to be on the same page so they can present consistent and accurate information to customers. In the past, Strickland has used a training concept he called “squeezing the lemon” to facilitate this.

“When you squeeze a lemon, what comes out? Everything inside,” he said. “So we would put all of our associates in that Q&A- answers. A role play, if you could, among peers, ask these questions and then teach them how to answer them. “The product I use is this formulation. … That’s how it helps with the insect problem you have. And here’s what I need you to know about the safety aspect and what what it is.

Chapter 5: Business maturity. Strickland asked PMPs if their company was at the same level of maturity as its age. “If you’ve been in business for 10 years, here’s my challenge for you: have you been mature for 10 years, have you been in business for 10 years, or have you been in business for a year, but you’ve been doing a year for 10 years?” He asked.

Companies should take stock of their arsenal of tools, he said, and ensure they evolve as they mature. “You could use a five iron in your golf bag,” Strickland said. “This particular tool is an important tool, and we need it. But let’s make sure it’s not the only tool we have.

He recommended that PMPs note each product in their chemical storage unit. “Put them on a piece of paper with the active ingredient and the formulation,” he said. “A dust, an aerosol, a liquid, an EC.” This helps PMPs track their sourcing, but also ensures that they are not using products that contradict each other.

Another element of business maturity is documenting customer feedback and service quality, he said. Customers can appreciate when a technician sweeps their cobwebs, puts covers on their shoes, or takes the time to explain a process. Any positive comments should be documented for future reference so they can be repeated consistently, Strickland said.

Chapter 6: Your customer. It’s important to know what a customer likes about your business, but also what they don’t like, Strickland said.

“What have you or your associates done that continues to cause pain for your customers? ” He asked. He encouraged PMPs to look for weak points and find ways to improve them to facilitate customer satisfaction and loyalty. “Can you make it easier for them to pay the bill? ” He asked. “Can you make it easier for them to plan the service? Can you make it easier for them to get in touch with someone? With today’s society, they don’t necessarily want it now, they want it yesterday.

If companies don’t address these issues, they run the risk of negative reviews on social media and beyond, Strickland said. He used the three-legged race as an example to demonstrate how members of the company must work together to achieve customer satisfaction. In the race, legs linked, partners must communicate a plan, move in sync and, above all, trust each other. “Two different people are doing two different things, but the cadence is there, and at the end of the day, if we go on a three-run race, it doesn’t matter if you came first or I came first, because we’re together. “said Strickland.

Chapter 7: Your people. Your team members are the most important part of your business, Strickland said. “It’s the point of contact with our customers, whether virtually on the phone or on the computer,” he said.

He referred to a saying attributed to the Greek soldier Archilochus, also used by US Navy SEALs: “Under pressure you fail to rise, you fall short of your training.” In difficult situations, Strickland said, employees will fall to their highest level of training. Therefore, training well is one of the most important tasks a company can undertake.

If you’re writing the book about your business, Strickland said, and you want to make it better than the competition, focus on the promises you make to your people: your customers and your employees. “What separates you is your team and your customers,” he said. “And that’s what you’re selling. It’s what makes you special.

The author is editor of PCT magazine.

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