What The Customer Hears Can Cost You

Do anything long enough and you can almost go on an auto pilot mode and things just always seem to go as expected. You’ve got your little system that works for you and methods that work well on the pests of your area. You can get pretty comfortable in a route with smiling happy people that have no problems but the curve balls always seem to come with new customers or even those that have been around awhile that suddenly have an outbreak of pests. Now you have to communicate and explain to clients just what you’re doing and in most cases- WHY– it won’t work over night. This in my experience is where problems come in and all the obvious answers in the world just don’t seem to help.

Tell The Customer What They Want To Hear

I realize of course the old adage that gets heads nodding and contracts signed. Techs sometimes in a rush might even just blurt out what he knows his client wants to hear and hopes for the best as he rushes for his truck.(he knows he’ll be back) Both of these scenarios happen way too much. Having said this please understand- I know full well the value of telling a perspective client or one with a problem the positive side of what I can do. No one wants to do business with someone who isn’t sure of his treatment or says in his best Eyore voice “maybe it’ll work I dunno.” We’re an industry of problem solving so to me this is not something you can cut out of your daily service. But as a general rule and even more deep rooted is the fact that somewhere between your lips and the homeowners ears an entirely different expectation is conceived by both parties. You say “give it a week to 10 days and the problem will have gotten much better” and they have it as gospel that they will be pest free in a week, tops. Now you didn’t say this of course but in 5 days when the phone rings and it’s your angry customer wondering why they still have german roaches (or whatever) running around you are suddenly behind the preverbal 8 ball. Now you might go on the defensive and try to explain but you’re not in a great position and so many times you end up just going out on a useless call. You wonder where they got the idea they’d be bug free like that and especially in just 5 days. Ahhh, not that I’m not any great psychologists or anything but while a week to you or I might mean 7 days to others it’s 5. They hear what they want to hear. To boot, most everybody throws out the second number and even if you arm wrestle them to give it at least that much more time, all you’ll have bought yourself is a few more days– Day 10= Ring Ring,” it’s me again.”

Under Promise & Over Deliver- NOT

So what can you do about this time, money and reputation draining dilemma? Sure I read all the fancy magazine articles and hear all the industry experts tout education and IPM but cmon! ‘Educate?’ How’s that help me when I’ve been out for the 3rd time on a pharaoh ant job just this month and the clients at the end of her rope? Small guys like me can’t afford to lose work but I can even less afford to keep it at a loss. Conventional wisdom is to Under Promise and Over Deliver but I’m saying this won’t work. If you under promise you’re breaking a fundamental rule of sales for one thing and you’re instilling zero confidence in service for another. You’ll never make it to the over deliver part.

Real simple, what I do and it seems to work well. (still not 100% ugh) Get on your computer and make up a simple tri fold brochure that explains what a customer should and should not expect. Not so much on time it’ll take for results but more on how you operate and certain policies and procedures you have as a company. For instance in my company we do monthly service ‘only’ for german roaches and for the first 30 days after a clean out we offer NO additional (complaint) service. After the 2nd service we might come out in between if a flair up happens and there’s no charge. It’s just my system and you don’t have to agree but what use to happen is people called after about 10 days which is a pretty typical time where the roaches seem to pick up a little steam. No amount of re-education or advice over the phone was gonna save us from heading on out to a job that had all the residual it needed. So there we were slipping glue boards around or pulling out the fridge for bugs that were doomed already. Now with my policy in writing- we get very little of that. You can also do this with a contract but to me that’s a bit to stuffy and a little brochure can be tailor made to be friendly, informative and even ask for a referral.

Give a try, you might like what you hear.

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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  • Stuto1

    Excellent article. I definitely need a brochure like what you described.

  • They’re real easy to make and you can just print off what you need. It doesn’t solve 100% of the issues but it does go a long way.

    Thanks for reading