I left Baltimore and the drama of the big corporate world behind for grande promises and a tropical paradise. When that went to hell in less than a year I needed to move on. I did about 2 years as a Branch Mgr./franchisee/District Director/ Any Title I Wanted That Made Me Feel Good but forget about the low pay. Again, pure Hades. Then in 1993 I launched my company and although it’s been a very long road, I am blessed to be where I am. Still, tucked neatly away in all this history is a 3 month period of time that I wish could forget and I wish never happened. 3 of the oddest months of my career in which I truly felt that I was dealing with a mad man.
Fire To The Frying Pan
Leaving hell and going anywhere has got to be a good thing right? Well it was I guess until I got there at the mandatory 7 am and was handed a leaf blower. Not only did I have to do the sidewalk, driveway and porch but there I was on top of the roof dislodging leaves from the gutters while the sun was barely waking up. Of course I didn’t always have to do this-they weren’t slave drivers. No, on other days I vacuumed, dusted or straightened up the break room. Ahhh, all that pest control training was really paying off. Suffice to say the owners of ‘said business’ were a bit quirky but I do credit the Mrs. for a lesson that I still carry with me to this day. You see, we did ‘courtesy’ WDO inspections (in other words free) so of course we would do 10 or 15 per day. We weren’t allowed to write them by hand but rather type them at the end of the day OR we could come in early before cleaning. Needless to say it was a mad dash to get em done & I, in my haste misspelled the word subterranean. The Mrs. did not like this egregious violation in her perfect little world and as such I was tongue lashed in front of my peers for the offense. I mangle many things in writing (just look around the web site 😉 ) but subterranean is forever etched in my mind.
Philosophy Of A Mad Man
Free inspections was the brain child of the old man (owner) and we were constantly told to recruit new realtors even though we had no time for the work already. Our pitch to them was “Our inspection is free to our preferred partners, all we ask is every consideration for the job.” The realtors never heard the rest of his theory and that was, “Every home has a problem-find it, I want to TREAT every house.” To say the guy was shrewd was an understatement but he fancied himself as this huge pest control tycoon and bragged of the companies he had bought out but never changed their names. “That way even when I get beat! The check still gets put in my account.” He also loved the fact that the company wasn’t even in his name rather a female relative so he could catch all the tax breaks. He came to our branch once and started the meeting with “I can kick any one of your asses right now- who wants to try me?” and of course that was a fun meeting.
Motivational NUT & The Invisible Dog
This company had 4 branches if I remember right and at the end of every month we all gathered (on a saturday=unpaid) at the head quarters where we were told how great he was but also the salesman would get plaques and told what place they came in for sales that month. I surprisingly got a plaque the 1st month and ranked 4th or 5th. Who knew? The old man loved competition and to fuel the fire all salesman had to call in their numbers everyday at 4:30 and then at 5 the main office would announce the totals on speaker phones so all could hear. I hardly ever could make it nor was I interested but more than once I had to listen in from a pay phone while out on the road. The last week of the month the tallies were kept in secret to really motivate us and aspire to be top dog.
In my 2nd month I sold a ton of work and lo and behold at the end of the month I had earned another plaque and I was very close to #1. My branch mgr. just winked at me walking in the meeting hall and I thought for sure I won. When the names were called out from lowest to first I was more convinced with each name that wasn’t mine. Then when it got to #1 I had a lump in my throat thinking wow, I actually did it. The name was called and I went to stand up and I realized, it wasn’t mine. I was shocked and embarrassed-not only did I not win, I wasn’t even mentioned. To top it off my totals for the month were the highest but not even an explanation! That really put a pit in my stomach watching the other guy get my award and congratulations and there I was in the back of the room wishing I could just slink away.
The Straw That Sent Me Through The Ceiling
You know thinking back on this black hole in my career, there really are a lot of things that happened even though I only worked there for such a short time. By the time I had had enough I was on my 3rd branch mgr. who at first was a very cool guy and he helped me with sales technique quite a bit. It was when slower sales cycled through and pressure from the looney bin head quarters started mounting that things got ugly in a hurry. I was still doing 15 or so WDO’s a day and at one point I had 2 client complaints of things I missed and one where I fell through a ceiling during an inspection. I guess if my sales were up a bit they might have let some things slide but hey, no better time to kick a guy then when he’s down right?.
One error on a WDO was wood rot on a spa that was built into an attached deck. $200.00 The other was wood rot on a front door jamb that I found but my memory was a bit foggy at 6 am when I came in to type my 15 reports. $250 The last was that while rushing just to catch up with my day I put my foot through a ceiling over a garage while traipsing the attic. $200 So these 3 things landed me in the office with the nut job owner and my new mgr. I was told I was forgiven for the 2 WDO’s I missed but there was no excuse for the damage in the attic. For a 1/2 hour I had to hear the virtues of safety, caution and respect for other peoples property and by now I had steam percolating in my head and out my ears. All this from a whack job who had me doing his house cleaning everyday, was demeaning, arrogant had me doing 15 or more FREE WDO’s and claims he can kick my ass any day of the week– WOW! In the end he asked me if I had $200 dollars in such a condescending way which made me feel like a poor soul begging for his mercy. I told him I’d bring a check the next day but by now I was planning to bring much more.
The next day the mgr. wasn’t in as usual in the morning so we just went about our day. I had gathered all my equipment and was going to quit right then and there but with no one to tell I went home. By the end of the day phones were ringing and people were mad and I was called into the office once again. My branch mgr. went off on me pretty good but for once in my life I stood up and gave some right back. At the end of our “conversation” he said in a well rehearsed way the old man thinks you screwed him by what you did and thinks you might have well just said f@$k you to him.” To which I replied “If he had the guts to be here for this planned event, I would have said just that.” At that point he reached across the desk and took my $200 check and said he was relaying a message that I was no longer needed. That’s when my 3 month odyssey came to an end and although absent- I was fired by a mad man.