I think most folks are familiar with the Biblical story of the prodigal son. A story where a young man, heir to his Father, decides to cash in early on what’s his and go off on his own. He leaves a very good situation, runs off for reasons unknown and for awhile–ahhhhhhhhhhh, he just lives the high life. You can read the rest of the story here-Luke 15:11-32
Suffice to say, the young man “comes to himself” after finding that’s he’s in a much worse circumstance then when he left– I guess that happens when you find yourself suddenly living in squalor compared to what you were a custom to. So, figuring out (finally) that the grass just wasn’t so green on the other side he heads back to the place he, for whatever reason came to dread. There he finds the familiar care and fulfillment and open arms to greet him. It’s there, he find’s home once again.
Well, for me, I think this story should really be referred to as the “Forgiving Father” as that’s truly the gist, sum and substance of the tale. Since however this is a pest control article, let’s just call it, The Tale Of The Prodigal Customer.
We All Have Them
Stick around long enough and you’ll find you have many ‘prodigal clients’. Good customers that have been faithful for years, or maybe newer ones that are all excited about your work or even those you’d least expect to leave but–suddenly, poof, they’re gone. Either convinced by slick commercials, lured away by enticing “one time” deals or perhaps swayed because of a stubborn cycle of unwanted bugs that you couldn’t get rid of quick enough…. for whatever reason….the grass looked greener, the promises of other companies appeared shinier or just the seduction of a better way persuaded them to leave you behind. (now try to imagine how the Father in the story felt)
I guess for awhile the new service worked really well. Why else would they suddenly forget your years of effort? (a one year contract maybe?) The times you searched the attic for an hour and a half tracing down an ant trail? The day(s) you waited for 45 minutes while they were running late. How you didn’t charge extra for the $30 dollars in lure traps for that pantry pest invasion back in 09. This new service is so advanced, fresh and reinvigorating and the promises–oh the promises! Who wouldn’t jump ship and go with all those flowering words and professional brochures? And what’s worse– the way in which they leave. Sometimes you get no details at all only to find out later with your network of friends who they left you for. Other times you get the call and you’re blatantly told you’ve been replaced because of a deficiency (perceived) in your work. You know it’s not true and you want to scream, but politely, you thank them and simply hang up the phone or walk out the door. Thoughts of betrayal fill your mind but your experience, your professionalism and your zest for a vital business or route spur you on. You move forward but the wound bites, nags and persists.
That Familiar Call
Hang around long enough and you’ll ALWAYS get that call. In fact, stay on the route or in business for any length of time and you’ll find you’ll get the same cry more than a few times and many of those, from the same client(s).
Sometimes it’s an apologetic tone but mostly it’s just an vaned attempt to disguise themselves as a long lost client that’s alway’s loved your service and just now, suddenly, wants to reconnect….
“Hi this is Joe Smith, I was wondering if you still serviced my area? I’d like to have you guys start treating my home again.”
A sly grin brushes across your face and you want so badly to get the whole story and just find out why they left, where they went and what caused them to just out of the blue come back???? But you hold off. Why? Because more than anything, you’re Thankful. Thankful for the new (reinstated) business, the reaffirmation that you weren’t so bad AND that in the end, YOU, YOU, were that company, THAT TECHNICIAN and that trusted service provider who when push came to shove they needed most. That you were/are that forgiving individual, that they could’ve and should have, had faith in, all along.