Recently on a trip to the Pacific Northwest I was reminded of a service that I thought had gone by the wayside and I just took for granted that it was now my lifelong task. I pulled into a gas station and before I could unbuckle my seat belt there was a man at my window peering in at me. I was of course startled and he obviously wanted something from me so I nervously rolled down the window not sure what he would say.
I was pleasantly surprised to find out I wasn’t being car jacked & all he wanted was to pump my gas but still it raised some questions. At first I still wanted to pump my own gas thinking this guy was gonna charge me extra. I thought about going to another station but he told me it was the law in Oregon and when I saw another car also being serviced by an attendant- I relaxed and let him do his job but still I had questions and as always- they came back to pest control. (it must’ve been the fumes)
We Even Forget The Good
I remember gas attendants very well growing up but I had thought they went out with the dinosaurs. They would raise the hood & check the oil, clean the windshield, check tire pressures & oh yes, even “fill er up” with gas. It was a great service and a major reason you’d pick one station over another was if someone treated you better than the other guy. This is still a major reason people choose services today including pest control. Now I don’t know why this service went away for most of us but I will tell you I don’t even miss it. Even with all those fantastic little extras they did I have no interest in ‘Full Serve’ and I’m not exactly sure why. Time, control, cheaper prices who knows?, I’d just rather do it myself. So while not the perfect analogy, it does set up my question of “How much pest control do you let your customers do?”
The Lure Of Self Serve & A Lesson Learned
A few years back I had a customer with a huge german roach infestation. She lived in a small single wide mobile home and these roaches had the run of the place. She had birds and pets and of course this impeded some progress as she didn’t want a lot of sprays. She liked how I approached my service and the care I took around her home. Baits back then weren’t very good but she wanted fresh dabs in each drawer every month because she was convinced it was helping out tremendously.
She was a nice lady don’t get me wrong but a bit of a complainer none the less. I have a policy now but not back then of no complaint service for german roach accounts with monthly service. There’s just no point 99% of the time. Like I said, it wasn’t a standard then and this lady took advantage quite often. I was a very small company in those days so I wasn’t pressed for time but the cost of gas and chemical hurt a bit. On one such visit I guess I was a little frustrated and towards the end I gave this lady a syringe of bait and told her to use it in between my regular visits. My thinking was instead of calling me she would simply apply some bait when she saw a roach. Heck, since I wasn’t thrilled with the stuff I didn’t mind the couple dollar investment just to keep me from running out there on complaints.
Much to my surprise when I called her for the next ‘regular (paying) visit’ she proudly canceled her service. When I asked her why she simply stated “why do I need you when I’ve got the bait and can do it myself.” This shocked me, even with my good service she’s canceling? I made up my mind to never give anybody any chemical again. Truth be told I haven’t always lived up to that promise and I still get burned every decade or so. (I’m such a sucker)
What Do You Do?
So what do you say when a client asks for a little spray or says they’ll do some pest control in between? Do you let them buy some product or do you give em a hand full of glue boards to save yourself a trip? Has anyone pulled this or something similar on you? I can’t be the only fool can I? Don’t answer that! Since my lesson way back then I hardly ever give anything away except advice. How bout you giving me and the rest of us some of yours on how you handle this situation? Our ears are wide open so go ahead and ‘fill er up.’