It’s said that in business, there are two subjects that you should NEVER bring up. Politics and religion. Whoever said this was either a very wise person or someone who found themselves with one less client whenever they opened up this can of worms. My guess is the latter.
Now I’m always accused of being a talker, my secretary often asks if she should figure in “the Jerry talking factor” when she schedules my day. I can talk to anybody about almost anything when I’m servicing a home and for the most part, it’s pleasant, welcomed and interesting. Still, there is these two hanging curve ball topics that can and do come up often & I find myself in a situation where the ice can get pretty thin. QUICKLY!
Now I’m sure I’m not alone on this but recently with the elections, political talk is all people seem to have on their minds. There’s signs in the yard, stickers on bumpers and a lot of clients have come straight out and just voiced their opinions, & looking at me, they want to hear a reply. So what do you do?
Politics Should Stop At The Pest Control Treatments Edge
I’m all about free speech, it’s part of the backbone of our great country but say the wrong thing or claim your allegiance to one guy or the other & you run the risk of alienating your customer pretty quickly. I mean where do you go if you say politician so & so is a liar and a greedy pig and just then you see a 5×10 picture of the guy and his wife up on the mantle? Hard to walk that one back. Just a few years ago I had a customer who refused to have a tech of mine out and he wouldn’t say why. It was me or else he’d cancel. Turns out ol big mouth tech of mine said something derogatory about President Bush (Ok I said it-I guess I am a talker) and this guy took extreme offense. Now, if I want to keep this client, he is forever on my schedule even though it’s not convenient in the least. How bout religion? What if someone is a Buddhist, Christian, Atheist or dare I say? Muslim!!!!! If you think Bush is a trigger point try voicing any contrary view to any of these. It can be disastrous.
My best advice. You’re there to do a job so don’t go there. Yes conversation often times makes it more pleasant, lets you know more about the person and can even let them know that you care. I have very few clients (I do have a few) that let me in the door and stay stone faced throughout the service and just want me in and out with no chit chat. By nature we are curious beings and we want to know about people, what makes them tick and they you. I like to hear about peoples families, their jobs or favorite TV shows. I’m sure I bore people to death talking about my kids or my quest for the perfect koi pond but that’s where I’ve learned it should for the most part stop. Once you venture into the hot button world of political or religious topics, you most often wish you kept your mouth shut.
Do You Advertise More Than Just Your Number?
How bout your truck or your business marquee? I’ve seen more bumper stickers on bug trucks that shout out loud where people stand then ever before. In my mind this can be just as dangerous if not more. While a good number of your clients won’t see it while you’re parked in the driveway, 1000’s of people will as you travel the streets. It’s kind of like selling a home with a pool- you cut out 1/2 the buyers just by having one even though the home may be just beautiful. Recently I posted a pic on my facebook group- (you should join it btw, great stuff from a lot of pros) of a pest control companies message on their sign. It was during the ‘Chick Fil A’ controversy and while I’m glad they had an opinion, I just thought it wasn’t the kind of thing I’d put on any marquee’ of mine. Still, I was kind of shocked at some of the comments. I figured somebody would say this wasn’t a professional thing to say right or wrong, but no one did. That said, you still run the risk of losing customers long before you ever have the chance to sell them. If you’re going to put anything on your truck or signs, my advice is to think it through and choose wisely.
We Have Free Speech Too
Now I would never say you CAN’T say this or you should NEVER display that, that goes against something I hold (& I hope you do too) very dear–Free Speech. However, I find that even when I know someone is say voting for my guy I still so often disagree with them on certain points and it almost ends up just as bad if I get into the dreaded conversation. For me, I almost always try and avoid the discussion regardless and if I am dragged into it, I ride the fence like any good politician would. You may or may not agree with me, you may say I have no conviction or backbone to say what I believe. I welcome your comment but nothing could be further than the truth. For me and my company, it’s all about service and building relationships not tearing down bridges.
On my blog, at a park, facebook or some other setting- I have no problem chatting it up with the best of em. That’s the appropriate place at least in my mind where I can air my views and you yours. I may not always be right, but at least there, I’ll be in the right place for saying what’s on my mind.