It doesn’t happen to me very much any more but there was a time when I would be asked to do pest control- you know– on the side. For a struggling young man this was a hard temptation to resist, the lure of cash for just a 20 minute quickie and no one would be the wiser was at least worth considering. I guess now that I’m older or perhaps people can tell I own the company somehow but I’m just not approached about it like I was 20 years ago.
Now here is the part where I tell you I never stooped so low and my morals were beyond reproach and kept me from this nefarious act, right? Sorry to disappoint you but I cannot. I too was tempted like I’m sure every pest control technician, plumber, a/c guy and who knows what else. It may start innocently enough doing a favor for your mother in law or a friend across town and they may even give you a 10 spot for your time. Next, you’re approached on the street or even at a clients house and the person claims they don’t really want a contract, just a quick once over for some pesky roaches and they’ll pay you cash. It seems innocent enough and maybe the first few times you feel a bit guilty but that soon goes away as you stuff the $20 in your pocket and drive away to your next stop.
The seduction of quick money is a powerful thing and I’ve known people who’ve turned their side business into mini sized routes. They might ad 3 or 4 stops to their days and even got so cocky that they were soon charging clean out fees or ‘extra’ for rat and mouse stations. In those days exterminators didn’t get paid a lot- huh, kind of like now. We had to hustle to make draws or be charged back and daily quotas meant you had to do at least 17 stops per day plus 3 or 4 clean outs (initial services) just to make a couple hundred bucks on your monthly commission check. A $22 dollar stop meant you made $ 2.20 and that didn’t add up to much at the end of the day. Even with the extra that came with your clean outs you might top off with a $60 dollar day while you watched your buddy on route 7 take in $60 to $100 for as few as 3 stops.
What happens next for those with a conscious is justification of the act. We might tell ourself that we aren’t using that much chemical and really this one little job won’t hurt the company and besides they got more money coming in than they know what to do with! This makes it easier (and it’s what we as humans do) to take the next one and the next and pretty soon we’re building a sizable side route without even realizing it. We try not to think of the gas we use as we park in the alley or the time it takes and we never think too hard about the few extra aerosols and bottles of concentrate we grab from the store room. Moving in the shadows and back streets no thought is given to insurance fees, the customers we could have been doing for those that gave us our employment or even the fact that this is in it’s basic definition stealing. We do that because we’re human and gave into a temptation and would rather not think of ourselves in that light.
As much as I laude the pest control industry and especially the service technicians who are the backbone that keep it all together I’m sure this problem still exists. I didn’t just come to this conclusion in 1991 when I started my company just because suddenly I was paying all the bills either. I was tempted like I know you were and perhaps are and I am just as guilty as anything I’ve written. It is a powerful lure to say the least but at some point you have to ask yourself if it’s worth the risk of doing. Pest control is one sector in the job world where more people go from the bottom to the top and even those who have fancy degrees such as an entomologists still are called on to dawn a pair of cover all’s every once in awhile and get in the trenches to see what you & I do to keep this engine running.
While pay might be low and the work hard, doing side work will do nothing for you as you try and get ahead. The rewards are there for those who love their jobs and it’s seldom that any striving technician gets caught up in a dead end position for long. Like I said it’s been eons since I’ve even been asked to do a side job so maybe I’m out of touch and this doesn’t happen like I think. Sure not doing them made for a lot of peanut butter sandwiches along the way but I don’t regret getting honest with myself even the slightest. I do regret doing them in the first place but I’ve learned to forgive myself and you should too. That’s also a human thing, it’s what we do.