The lure of a side job

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 chemicalman in the shadows pestcemetery.com 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.

pinnochio pestcemetery.comWhile 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.

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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  • If you work for someone – its stealing. If you are an employer treat your employees right and hopefully this won’t happen to you. Excellent article, it makes you think what can we do better!

  • If you work for someone – its stealing. If you are an employer treat your employees right and hopefully this won’t happen to you. Excellent article, it makes you think what can we do better!

  • It’s VERY illegal to do pest control jobs on the side. With every service it’s against DEC law not to have a ticket every time a product is applied.

  • It’s VERY illegal to do pest control jobs on the side. With every service it’s against DEC law not to have a ticket every time a product is applied.

  • The Bug Doctor

    I agree with both of you. As stated, I’m not sure if it’s as a big deal these days but I know the temptation is out there despite the risks. I forgotten to mention that GPS tracking on the trucks was partly instituted for this reason and I I’ve seen many a tech get burned when a complaint call would come in but the company ‘had no record’ of the caller.
    This is such a great job, I don’t know why people would risk it.
    Hey JP, what is DEC? I’m guessing Dept. of something…

    Thanks for reading
    The Bug Doctor

  • The Bug Doctor

    I agree with both of you. As stated, I’m not sure if it’s as a big deal these days but I know the temptation is out there despite the risks. I forgotten to mention that GPS tracking on the trucks was partly instituted for this reason and I I’ve seen many a tech get burned when a complaint call would come in but the company ‘had no record’ of the caller.
    This is such a great job, I don’t know why people would risk it.
    Hey JP, what is DEC? I’m guessing Dept. of something…

    Thanks for reading
    The Bug Doctor

  • Mel

    Iam guessing out of the million possible acronyms, DEC is Department of Evironmental Conversation (NY). I had to google it to find it. Undoubtedly side jobs still occur. I know a tech who’s mastered a script to obtain jobs. On several occasions his side income exceeded his monthly salary. Many of these transactions were shady. For example, a $1200 dampwood termite treatment. As you all know that money would have been better spent correcting the conducive condition for the termites. Time has finally caught up with this guy. He’s burned enough companies no one will hire him.

    I get approached every once in a while for a side job and Iam glad to say I decline them. I’ve been given $40 tips this year. To some they might be misconstrued as a side job. I told my manager in case it was ever misinterpreted by the giver that I was going to do something extra. That never happened. The only thing “extra” I did was spend time being thorough inspecting to resolve a pest issue.. They noticed and appreciated the effort. Thus the tip.

  • Mel

    Iam guessing out of the million possible acronyms, DEC is Department of Evironmental Conversation (NY). I had to google it to find it. Undoubtedly side jobs still occur. I know a tech who’s mastered a script to obtain jobs. On several occasions his side income exceeded his monthly salary. Many of these transactions were shady. For example, a $1200 dampwood termite treatment. As you all know that money would have been better spent correcting the conducive condition for the termites. Time has finally caught up with this guy. He’s burned enough companies no one will hire him.

    I get approached every once in a while for a side job and Iam glad to say I decline them. I’ve been given $40 tips this year. To some they might be misconstrued as a side job. I told my manager in case it was ever misinterpreted by the giver that I was going to do something extra. That never happened. The only thing “extra” I did was spend time being thorough inspecting to resolve a pest issue.. They noticed and appreciated the effort. Thus the tip.

  • The Bug Doctor

    Excellent commentary Mel, Very well said.

  • The Bug Doctor

    Excellent commentary Mel, Very well said.

  • jay

    I’m sorry but lately, our company has been holding our work lately. We have only been running 11 stops @ 15% and I have missed paying my rent. Upper managment for some reason thinks that we want to be home early everyday. They have this weid conception that 650 customers is enough for a technician. The route grows to 700 and then corporate says that its too much for a tech to maintain. Once upon a time, at a much more successful company, I ran 850 customers, on the dime, like clockwork. I would honestly tell you that if it wasn’t for a side job or two, I wouldn’t have been able to cook dinner today. Just my two cents.

  • jay

    I’m sorry but lately, our company has been holding our work lately. We have only been running 11 stops @ 15% and I have missed paying my rent. Upper managment for some reason thinks that we want to be home early everyday. They have this weid conception that 650 customers is enough for a technician. The route grows to 700 and then corporate says that its too much for a tech to maintain. Once upon a time, at a much more successful company, I ran 850 customers, on the dime, like clockwork. I would honestly tell you that if it wasn’t for a side job or two, I wouldn’t have been able to cook dinner today. Just my two cents.

  • The Bug Doctor

    Jay,

    As stated in my article I am guilty of it too and for pretty much the same reason so you’ll find no stones being hurled at you from me. I never felt right about it as I can sense of you in your words.

    Thinking about it after I read your response something wonderful did come out of it. This was about the time my wife (then girlfriend) both took a night job in a restaurant and cleaned houses, gutters, yards etc. on wknds and whenever we could. It was a great growing period and we learned so much about each other and began to build something special that still is going strong today- We look back at those hard times and really do think of them as some of the best times of our lives.

    Your honesty in your response is courageous & I’m glad you took the time to do it. I hope things get better for you soon, you’re definitely in the right industry for growth but for now maybe just not the right situation.

    Thanks for reading
    The Bug Doctor

  • The Bug Doctor

    Jay,

    As stated in my article I am guilty of it too and for pretty much the same reason so you’ll find no stones being hurled at you from me. I never felt right about it as I can sense of you in your words.

    Thinking about it after I read your response something wonderful did come out of it. This was about the time my wife (then girlfriend) both took a night job in a restaurant and cleaned houses, gutters, yards etc. on wknds and whenever we could. It was a great growing period and we learned so much about each other and began to build something special that still is going strong today- We look back at those hard times and really do think of them as some of the best times of our lives.

    Your honesty in your response is courageous & I’m glad you took the time to do it. I hope things get better for you soon, you’re definitely in the right industry for growth but for now maybe just not the right situation.

    Thanks for reading
    The Bug Doctor

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  • starving

    Theft is Theft any way you look at it, these guys are Theives.

  • starving

    Theft is Theft any way you look at it, these guys are Theives.

  • The Bug Doctor

    Seems to be a common theme. Thank you for your comment and Thanks for reading.

    The Bug Doctor

  • The Bug Doctor

    Seems to be a common theme. Thank you for your comment and Thanks for reading.

    The Bug Doctor

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  • Sb2ndstrike

    I think the author is out of touch. While he speaks of regret, and his guilt; he says very little of the reason for the side job. To pay our bills, The company pulls in 1 million plus each year, while the higharchy gets penthouses, and nice cars; the techs are the ones in the trenches with barely enough to pay for groceries. Most, are on public assistance. It’s only after the author has THEIR very own company, which many out there can’t afford, that the critism starts. Piosness here is misplaced, and I guarantee the author that his employees are doing side jobs. 

  • Than you for your comment- this article seems to bring out some brutal honesty for some reason. 

  • Dylan

    Im a 8 year tech and have been asked about side at least a hindred times. My response is always the same…I dance with the person who brought me. My company has always treated me well and I want to do the same to them.

  • So people still do ask for side work? I figured so- kind of a time honored tradition of sorts. 😉

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  • Bobby

    when i worked for one of the leaders in the field i did foreigners that we called them, i never kept them going i would just go in and clear their problem and that was the end of it, they said if you got caught you would be fired needless to say i never got caught, on the same breath i had family working for me and i let them do the odd wasps nest or mouse problem in some of their friends homes and use my products but THEY DO IT IN THEIR TIME NOT MINE AND IT WAS A ONE OFF, not to start a little run of their own up lol…..

  • I’ve seen guys/gals have whole routes on the side…

  • Bobby

    ive seen it myself Jerry and its mainly council workers using council vans, poisons and time, i just done one off’s cleared the problem grabbed the money and ran lol.
    i think today its a lot harder with legislation and you have to leave a reporting system for when the health officers do their rounds, and if something goes wrong then they need a fall guy to throw the book at, so if they do they need to watch out as im sure they wont have their own public liability and might just find them self in court…..

  • I think it’s not as prevalent here anymore… but I’ve been out of that loop for a long time. My guys do not do that I’m sure… I’d find out because we’re a small town and even my competitors watch out for me and vice versa.