I had no idea about the Florida heat when I moved here back in 1990. Relentless and oppressing isn’t even the strongest way I could describe it. To add to my misery, my new company that was so happy to have me relocate 1500 miles, was too cheap to even give me a truck with working a/c. I use to show up to many a sales meeting looking like a drowned rat.
What I also had no idea about was the amount of WDO’s a person could do in a day. 10? 15?– Sound incredible? Well, I did that many and some days more as I left a trail of sweat criss crossing the town in my over heated rusted bucket of bolts.
You see, my employer at the time (a self proclaimed genius) had a pretty big niche in the real estate inspection market. No he wasn’t a guru marketer that knew how to network. He simply GAVE away his inspection service for free and every realtor in town used the heck out of me,… eh emm,, I mean,… his offer.
A Flawed Plan
He would go to the many real estate offices in town and present it (with his slow southern style and a sh*t eating grin)– “ We’ll do your inspections for free, we just ask for every consideration for the termite work should we find a problem.” — Back at the office it was presented to us with the same smirk, however the tone was now more like a drill sergeant, “ You WILL find a problem.”
His system worked except for two things; # 1 He was too cheap to hire more than one tech to do the work & # 2— See #1.
In my short time there, we must have gone through 5 or 6 termite techs. (I could only stand about 3 months till I bolted) Some only lasted a 1/2 a day but most were either fired or quit inside a week.! The work load was incredible and since products like Termidor weren’t around at the time, full drill was the main order of the day. I don’t know about you but trenching and drilling in the brutal Florida sun is not my most favorite way to spend a morning. Especially when there may be 3 or 4 more jobs on the books.
Enter The Pro
About midway through my illustrious career with this guy, they hired an experienced treater. A real bonafide pro who had been doing nothing but termite work for years. He was easily in his sixties and I remember nudging the pest salesman at the time and remarking how I didn’t think this guy would last the day.
This tall skinny gentleman showed up every morning at 7am wearing full cover alls. Checked over his truck, grabbed everything he needed and was on the road without hardly saying two words. At the end of the day, usually 7 pm, I’d be busily typing away on my reports and I’d see him as he pulled into the yard. A little dirty but not to bad, and seemingly not real worn out at all. He spent a few minutes tidying up the truck, came inside to turn in his work, a few words with the manager and he would quietly slip out the door.
To my surprise this went on for more than a month. Rain or shine and in the never ending sweltering heat this guy faithfully did what no one else could accomplish. I know the work was hard for him because I sold it and I got dizzy just doing the inspections. My graphs looked like a construction blueprint with all the lines of where we were to trench and treat and little arrows that represented the hollow block or attached slabs that needed drilling. But, there he was, everyday quietly getting the job done.
The Genius Wasn’t Happy
As part of the “geniuses” pitch to the realtors he had me go out to do ‘quality control’ inspections. (as if I didn’t have enough to do) Actually it was just a reason for me to get out in front of the new homeowners who had just purchased the house to sell them pest control. So I had my list of such calls for the day and around noon time I rolled up onto a job I had sold over 2 weeks ago- To my surprise the new owners weren’t there but our termite tech was. Dressed in his long sleeved crawl suit he was in the blazing sun angle drilling an abutting slab to treat the block and brick veneer voids that the slab protected. As usual he didn’t say much– so I walked around the home to look at what he had done. I was amazed at the perfect lines of the treatment holes and the care and time he must’ve taken to access each and every void. The trench looked like a freshly plowed row that a farmer would do in Iowa using a tractor. Roots were cut and removed, cables were unscathed and neatly placed out of the way. It was obvious he hand dug around hidden pipes exposing them so that the liquid would have no choice but to completely encircle them creating a full and complete barrier. I know it sounds weird but to a termite guy, this job was a thing of beauty.
Coming back around to the front he had just barely finished the hole he was working on and was lining up for the next. “Where are the owners, I asked somewhat befuddled, they closed on this place two weeks ago.” Obviously not happy that he’d have to take his eye off the spot he so carefully lined up he said, “ They couldn’t move in yet because settlement was delayed as the termite work hadn’t been done, I’m a little behind.”
We talked for a few minutes more and I found out that he wasn’t at all happy with the job anymore. He had often asked for a helper but was told no at every turn. Each night when he rolled in the bosses words were getting harsher and he felt the pressure to do more or face the consequences. “ I just don’t work that way he said, I only know one way to do termite work,– the right way.” With that, I fired up the rig and started treating all the beautiful work he’d done and he finished up the drilling. Even with two of us it took an hour or more to button it up. By the end of that week, the pro, was let go.
A Pipe Dream Turns Back To A Nightmare
As I said earlier, we went through a lot of techs and most were fired. The reason that most all of these met this demise is because while they may have wanted to do good work, it was an impossible task. The heavy load without any help caused most of these guys to rush their work. Because of this I’d say at least 6 or 7 jobs were halted due to spewing pipes punctured by a heavy hammer drill. Cut cable lines, sliced gas lines or other such damage seemed to be a daily call. Also- I wasn’t the only one doing quality control checks. The owner often went out and even ‘spied’ on techs like a cop in a stake out. If a job wasn’t complete or shortcuts were taken he wasn’t a happy camper. He many times took glee in bragging at our meetings of how he snuck around like a private Dick. (hey-relax-that’s detective lingo) If standards weren’t at his level, heads usually rolled.
But in the end he was just too damn cheap to pay for the work he demanded but I guess he wasn’t smart enough to see it was costing him with plumbers and electricians. Let alone the reputation hit he took with shoddy work. (swarm season killed him with retreats-wonder why)
Here we had a true pro who did better work than I could ever remember seeing and he squandered it just to save a few bucks and pad his numbers. He justified the pros firing by saying he was too old and too slow– and he was losing hands over fist money. Tsk tsk.
On the Monday after the master tech was let go—we got that familiar call. Our new termite tech, (also experienced) had hit a pipe & a geyser of water like Old Faithful was coming out of a porch slab………….and the madness continued.
I don’t know where that ol pro ended up but hopefully to someone who appreciated him and his fine work. While true, finding a perfect technician without some small drawback is rare indeed….just putting anybody in the truck that can plug in a hammer drill & thinking your business won’t suffer…well that’s just a pipe dream, a broken one to boot.