5 Rookie Mistakes & Why Your New Hire Needs To Be Like Brett Favre

Brett Favre in the snow http://pestcemetery.com/Football Question; Who caught Green Bay Packers long time quarterback Brett Favre’s first NFL pass?

I’ll provide the answer at the end of the article which may surprise you-but in the meantime, let’s talk about rookies.

In professional sports we call the new kids on the block- rookies. We tend to give these “new” players a lot slack. We expect them to commit errors. Should they fumble the ball or make the wrong choice of who to pass to we call it a ‘rookie mistake.’ In most cases everybody’s willing to forgive. The coach taps em on the behind as they trot off the field, the announcers acknowledge the blunder as they diagnose the play but always point out- he’s just a rookie, he’ll learn. Even the fans back at the bar, although disappointed don’t give up hope and perhaps the rookies gaffe might even make the loss that much easier to swallow.

How About Your Brand New Tech?

How much slack do you give to a brand new technician? There’s gotta be some right? I guess that answer will vary with the reader and perhaps some mistakes are a little more understandable than others. For instance; you hire a 26 year old gal who’s never done pest control before but on her first day out– she backs the truck up into parked car. Ok, rookie mistake. She’s not used to a truck with tool boxes etc. Or perhaps not– she’s been driving for what?, at least 8 years now, maybe more? -hardly a rookie. So I’m not giving you absolutes here nor is this an exhaustive list or even the top 5 most common. Just some food for thought and perhaps a heads up & something to look for that you hadn’t considered.

#1 Not Asking Questions

I often say that I can tell pretty quickly if someone is going to be a good pest control tech. I simply sit back and watch them work and if they’re not “curiously” tipping rocks over to see where a trail of ants lead or poking their heads up (way up) under a sink to see if they can view some thigmotropic action– my guess is, you’re probably not destined for the technician of the year award. (also if you’re new and you haven’t googled the word thigmotropic by now, I figure the same 😉

But you can’t ride with a person everyday to see this first hand, that’s just not practical. However, my guess is you’ll see them at least once won’t you? So when you do, does your new hire have any questions for you? any concerns, comments, excitement, stories, etc.? Or do they quietly slip in and out of the office hoping not to be noticed?

Now it could be a shy person, it could be you’re kind of an unapproachable boss, but you CAN’T tell me this career is something you can just shut up about at the end of the day. There’s just too much about this job to keep quiet about. So if your new employee is not at least 1/2 full of questions or seeking advice on a regular basis that is a huge mistake. Again, you’ll need to find out the underlying cause but a quiet tech, is not a learning tech.

#2 Relying Too Much On One Tool

Of course the big bug-a-boo in pest control is the ‘spray jockey.’ The guy who just comes in with a hand sprayer and whisks around the edges and in no time flat, he’s off to the next job. But have you heard of the bait nuts? Or the dust freaks? They’re out there too. (their the ones complaining about the spray jockey’s 😉

I’ve seen way too many techs who rely on one tool and it doesn’t matter if all you do is bait cabinets all day or just walk around the outside of a structure with a caulking gun looking for gaps to seal. Now unless you’ve trained them for this, – which I doubt, techs can all to often fall into complete reliance on one tool, one product as their “solve all” solution. This is a hard habit to break later on but easy to correct as they’re first learning. For me, I look at two things, service tickets and their tool belts. If I see just one or two products listed on a majority of tickets I might raise an eyebrow. However, if I do a truck inspection or ride with them and see their service belt just about empty–that’s always my best clue. You see I get teased all the time that I look like the ‘ghost buster’ because I have some pretty fancy stuff hanging on my belt. It’s a little heavy and awkward in tight spots but I’m one that wants to be instantly ready in any situation. I find that with many of the guys I’ve trained will do the same when I’m training them but their belts get ‘lighter & lighter’ when they’re on their own. When I see that- than I know they’ve limited themselves to whatever’s in their hand and …..maybe….. a half torn silverfish pak or lint filled maxforce station at the bottom of their belt pouch.

#3 Failure To Prepare

Now this is something the brand new person is gonna do once or twice guaranteed. However, if this becomes chronic their route will forever be fraught with problems. In my little company there’s not much excuse for this. We schedule a week in advance and anybody can see what their doing and where they’re going way in advance. So when I get the call to run something out to a job or we have to reschedule work because we didn’t have what we need- I’m not real happy. So just like that errant pass from your new rookie quarterback you forgive a time or two in the first few games. There comes a time however, when you have to demand that those mistakes be cut out.

#4 Forgetting The Paper Work

No jobs finished until the paperworks done right? Of course. To take one step further you might add; complete and correct. I don’t think I need to state the obvious here but I will. Service tickets can often be “everyones” first line of defense. And that’s a good thing! The clients, should God forbid there be a problem and they need medical attention. What if it’s a Sunday and your office is closed? Can they read the techs scribble? Did he or she list everything? It’s a lot easier if a clear record of what was used & where is provided. How bout your office, if for the same reason and is suddenly asked to fax over the label? So the secretary grabs the last ticket and she can’t make it out? Or nothing was put down. What if there’s a question about quality of service? It’d be nice if you could point out that the ‘signed’ service ticket says your tech spent more than an hour there wouldn’t it? That’s put an end to many a misunderstanding for us over the years.

Now some of this may be on the bosses head I grant you. There are a ton of good software programs that do a lot of this work for you. We have tickets that simply require a check mark–but the computer isn’t gonna automatically know and list what you used & check the box for you. Getting into the habit of filling out your tickets, making a graph, jotting down a comment etc. is all part of the job. Too often, with new hires this is often overlooked. It happens from time to time even with the more experienced. But there comes a time it just needs to be automatic, part of the complete service and you should hold even your newer rookies accountable.

#5 Not Selling (perhaps this is most important on this list- especially for the rookie)

I soooo wish my techs would sell more often, especially someone new. You see, the sooner they start the easier it becomes and then it’s just a natural part of the job. Oh–don’t know if you agree with that? Tech’s selling is not part of the job? Oh contrare’ mon senior’ (terrible french there sorry) Selling is part of any techs job, rookie or vet alike. Now it may not be all door to door type sales but that should be part. What about an up-sale here or there? You know, you’re doing a one time for wasps and you at least give out a little info on your maintenance program. Maybe someone needs a powerspray or perhaps you’re baiting for mice and you see that an exclusion service is needed. Bottom line, if you’re not selling you truly didn’t get the full scope of the job in training or you just have your head in the sand. There are so many opportunities to sell even a little bit it isn’t funny. I marvel at my guys when they see Christmas time coming up. They pretty much know they get a little bonus and then come the 1st of the year- a raise. That to them is their reward time for the year and they just don’t realize it could be Christmas ALL YEAR LONG! For everybody. Ever heard of commission? I ask whenever I hear a complaint about not making enough.

Rookies need to know that selling is just part of the route- it’s what pumps life into the business which is what keeps everybody working. New techs need to sell and if they don’t, there should be steps made to correct that.

Enter #4

No not the forth on this list–but 4 as in Brett Favre whose jersey number was #4. To answer the question I posed up above. Brett’s very first completed rookie pass in the NFL was thrown and completed, —to himself— for a 7 yard loss. Ha! What a joke right? Well, he was a rookie and so he was cut some slack and as it turned out that wasn’t a bad thing. Love or hate ol #4 is up to you but he did go on to set some amazing records.

One of those records was one I’m sure he’d like very much not to have. Brett threw 13 interceptions in his rookie year and 24 more in his second season- all total 336 for his career which is the most of anybody else. (it’s not even close) He also holds the all time sack record–that’s “getting” sacked!! (525) For most Qb’s, that’s enough to get you benched, traded or fired. But not Brett–and why is that?

Because Brett did the one thing that kept him from that fate and the one thing a rookie or any tech could do to insulate him or herself as well. Brett made sales!!! ie: he threw a lot of touchdowns and won a ton of games with that same arm that got him into trouble-

In all #4 threw for over 71,000 yards, (that’s 40 plus miles) 508 touchdowns and didn’t miss a single one of his 321 straight games in 18 years (injuries and all)

Now I’m not advocating you become a slick gunslinger salesman so you can be a tech who makes mistake after mistake. There’s of course a difference between throwing a ball in a game and applying a pesticide in someones home. But I am saying if you were a little bit more like #4 and worked for me– I might be inclined to look at you more like #1 and keep you around for a long long time.


See Brett’s first career completion

About The Bug Doctor

Jerry Schappert is a certified pest control operator and Associate Certified Entomologist with over two and a half decades of experience from birds to termites and everything in between. He started as a route technician and worked his way up to commercial/national accounts representative. Always learning in his craft he is familiar with rural pest services and big city control techniques. Jerry has owned and operated a successful pest control company since 1993 in Ocala,Florida. While his knowledge and practical application has benefitted his community Jerry wanted to impart his wisdom on a broader scale to help many more. Pestcemetery.com was born from that idea in 2007 and has been well received. It is the goal of this site to inform you with his keen insights and safely guide you through your pest control treatment needs.
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