Is Your Smart Phone The Dumbest Thing For Your Pest Control Service?

Does anybody remember just how we managed to get along before there were cell phones? Sifting through the trash on the floor boards of our bug trucks looking for .25 cents to use a pay phone. Planning our stops so we could swing into the local Quick Stop convenience store where there always seemed to be a phone booth. Some of us were even so bold as to actually ask the customer to use their home phone to call our next client or the office. How did we ever get by?

Before There Were Tweets There Were Beeps

Then when beepers came into play communication got a boost of speed and for awhile those little boxes on your belt were all the rage. They got pretty sophisticated too and not only beeped but gave texts and even could play audible messages from callers like an answering machine. I use to feel like I was important with my beeper but after about the first week of being beeped for the stupidest things, it got pretty old. Portable cell phones were around at this time but it seemed only the Doctors or affluent could afford them. Besides, they were hardly portable unless you didn’t mind carrying around a huge man purse. Cell phones eventually got smaller and less expensive and with the dying out of the pay phone, they were firmly established as the future of people talking one to another but who knew what was next to come? With the advancement of cell phones the beepers went the way of the pay phones and pest control routes and service were even more streamlined and efficient.

Fast forward to today’s service and communication and the story is quite different. Not only is contact practically instant but you can also communicate with pictures, texts and even very clear videos or chats. Trading information has never been faster or more efficient and these same devices can also keep track of our areas serviced with bar code readers, accept payments for service, navigate our routes, take and send pictures of pests to the office for identification and even look up technical information on a certain pest or product label. With todays devices there is very little excuse to be anything but extremely productive and project the utmost professional image.

So How Are Smart Phones So Dumb?

Hardly a CEU or meeting goes by anymore without seeing someone texting, gaming or on Facebook during the presentation. To me this is pretty rude and although they try not to be obvious it’s pretty easy to spot and it does detract from what’s going on and it makes me wonder. Do they do this out in the field? The answer to that question is yes and while I could take the time to look up some stat or poll to validate myself, there is really no need. You see, I work with techs all the time and consult and help fellow bug men in my town quite a bit and I’m amazed just how often I see them shooting off a text or reading their status updates while trying to treat a home. I even watched one tech bump his face into a door jamb as he rounded a corner with his sprayer in one hand phone in the other and his eyes fixated on the tiny 2 x 2 screen.

This trance like effect is bad enough when the customer isn’t looking but for some the allure of the vibrating phone in its holster can’t be ignored even when they are face to face. You can usually tell when the tech has an alert because his eyes get a little bigger and he fidgets a bit trying to resist the call of Facebook, Twitter or what ever else has his phone buzzing. When the temptation takes over and he scoops it out of its fake leather case like a old west gunslinger you can always see the surprise of the client. For some it’s a disbelief that you’d answer that when right in the middle of talking to them. Others realize it’s business if it’s actually a call but even with that they’re uncomfortable listening in and they’ll pace about or leave the room. They get very disappointed when they gaze out their window expecting to see a tech granulating, spraying or dusting and all they see is the fastest thumb in the west as he stumbles about the perimeter.

You see; To the client, as silly as this sounds, this is their time and they would like your undivided attention and feel better to know that you treated their home professionally not Tweeted it 1/2 heartily.

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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  • AceTermiteOkla

    My Mom & Dad started Ace Exterminators in 1959 (license #65) going Statewide (Oklahoma) their 1st year. Mom also had 5 kids to raise… She has always said they operated fine without telephones… When the Service Technicians were finished with a job, they would just use the customer’s telephone & call in to the office to see if there were any messages. Of course Dad enjoyed the latest & greatest… so in the late 60’s he installed a telephone in his car. You had to call an operator & she would connect you…

  • #65 !!! That is so cool. I haven’t been around that long but I agree with your Mom whole heartily. I never had a customer say no AND so many of them would go ahead and offer the use of their phone knowing the type of business we were in and they wanted to be polite.

    Got any pics of your Dads phone? Was that a wind up crank style? haha lol 😉

  • James Butler

    I made it personal policy to leave my work phone in the truck while servicing homeowners.  When I’m on a service call, I’m on their time, not the companies.  If it was absolutely necessary for me to have my phone with me, I kept it on vibrate.

  • Good policy-I keep mine on my belt but even on vibrate mine is a distraction but at least I don’t fumble with it in front of the client trying to silence it.

    I should just leave it in the truck as you do–if the office needs me-they know where I am.

  • Mel

    It might not be smart to make or accept calls while servicing a customers home but utilizing a smart phone in pest control is certainly not dumb.  You wrote an article once about using a smart phone to access county records for graph purposes. I’ve used them to take pictures for ID or to seek an alternative opinion. I’ve pulled up images to show customers to verify what insect they were seeing but no evidence left behind. My smart phone helps me take an alternative route when traffic is horrible. I receive schedule changes instantly without having to take a phone call. It’s pretty smart if you ask me.

  • Yea but are you reading pestcemetery while you should be working… 😉

    All good and valid points Mel — The smart man uses his tools to give him a superior advantage while the fool is updating his status on FB— (I think I just called myself a fool)