What Would You Do If You Had Kept Every Cancelation?

Cancelations of pest contracts is a fact of life in the bug business. In fact the big companies actually factor in to their business plans and strategies. At last check, (25 years ago when I left the corporate world) 3% was the highest acceptable rate. Anything more and you’d have teams of big brass in suits swarming your office looking for heads to roll. Anything less and you’d have at least a small squadron of those same suits looking in to see how you’re doing it. Cancelations are a study in and of themselves. A good owner knows if he or she can limit their cancelations, they are on a fast track to big healthy routes.

So for just a few minutes let’s explore this area of our business and see if there isn’t something we can do to make it a very small number. Also, I’d love to hear some suggestions from you about it. Surely there are some really smart pest pros out there who have found a way to minimize this route killer & I think we could all benefit by hearing what you have to say.

The 3 Most Legitimate Reasons For Cancelations

#1Death— There’s not a lot more to say about this one. Once a person dies you can’t very well service the home and you have little if any chance of getting paid if you do. Fortunately, this isn’t an everyday occurrence (unless you live in Florida) but I’ve found at least a couple things to keep the service going.

Send a card, a note or make a phone call REGARDLESS if you ever treat the home again. Not so much a technique but this was a human being! A real person and hopefully you care enough just to extend your thoughts and prayers. A 1. At least in my state, we lose a handful of clients this way every year. We most often get the call from relatives and that’s when ‘A.’ comes in to play. Now not to sound uncaring but we do try to gingerly find the occasion to let them know we are still there for them & that if now the house is up for sale or the relative is going to keep it–maybe they should think about keeping our service so bugs won’t build up and the home won’t be infested when they come down or it gets shown. Surprisingly, we don’t often even have to suggest this, it is actually requested by the relative for this same reason. So we get the new billing address and perhaps a key and the service continues.

#2 Moving–Ahh, a little happier scenario but just as devastating to your route. Once you know someone is moving it’s time to get into action. In ALL our homes we’ve placed little service stickers in a cabinet or on the hot water heater. Just a reminder for the current customer but also for the next. What we will often do is offer a last ‘quick’ service just to make sure this valued client takes no unwanted pest with them and the new owner has no unforeseen surprises. This is usually a welcomed thing–who wouldn’t want that? With this service I make sure our our sticker is still there and maybe place another. I also ask if I can leave a welcome note for the new owner in a drawer or on top of the fridge. (great spot for this-don’t know why) If the timing is off I can at least send the note in the mail. I of course also see if my moving client is staying in my area… don’t have to say much here do I?

#3 Dissatisfied with your service. Oh my could we write a book here or what? I’ve heard a million reasons why someone was not happy and canceled but in my opinion this occurs for 3 reasons. Miscommunication— This can range from the tech/office/sales person having a bad day and his/her attitude shows it to simply not setting realistic expectations. Lastly of course is truly shoddy service. (this isn’t usually the problem) This simplistic summary isn’t suppose to be an exhaustive explanation but if you have troubles in these areas you’ll always have high cancellations until you fix them. In the interest of time and writing space I’ll leave this area up to you to explore further in the comment section below. Suffice to say, dissatisfied clients is a huge problem and no tiny article from me is going to help completely–You have to get on it and do whatever is necessary to fix the problem.

So The Real Question-What You You Do If You Had Kept Every Cancelation?

I ask this only so you can let your mind wander a bit-see what was possible and how much better your company would be if you never had a cancelation. Think about it; I’ve had HUGE commercial accounts go bye bye, a line of 10 neighbors in a row. churches, relatives, lawns, termite and pest control accounts of all sorts. Some I admit I was happy to see go but most were making me money and for whatever stupid reason they are gone now. I can honestly say that over the last 20 years or so of my own business I have at least lost a full routes worth of clients, probably more. Shock you? It should, but maybe you have the same number, maybe more. I can tell you the mega companies have whole walls of filing cabinets filled with canceled client folders. These are the guys who have the money, personnel and resources to keep this to a minimum and yet there they are.

So if you and I want to grow and sustain our companies, it behooves each and everyone of us to sit down, look in the mirror, and figure this thing out. What say you?

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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  • It is the customer perception of our service that matters, I can understand the loss by death or relocation or even if they now have a friend in the biz. The loss due to service is the hardest on me, we strive to do the best service but occasionally we mess up. I generally try to apologize and admit that we are human and make mistakes but its hard dealing with the fact that you messed up. I also try to make sure I train often – pest control, termite control is ever changing so its good to be up-to-date with new pesticides and ways of serving an account.

  • perception is key and I find ‘setting’ expectations can be a good start but so often that is eroded by breakdowns in service or the passage of time. (or both) Training is HUGE–you’re right–this can bridge that gap and repair damage even when it is unseen and more importantly, before the seeds of cancelation take root.

  • perception is key and I find ‘setting’ expectations can be a good start but so often that is eroded by breakdowns in service or the passage of time. (or both) Training is HUGE–you’re right–this can bridge that gap and repair damage even when it is unseen and more importantly, before the seeds of cancelation take root.

  • Grant

    Having enough time to service the customer properly is pretty important, i find when I’m over booked I’m more likely to rush , or even if you don’t miss something.. if you are only there for a short amount of time, it doesn’t matter how good the service was.. the customers perception is that the work was shoddy , i cant count the amount of times i’ve gone to a customers house to do a general pest treatment to have them say ” the last company didn’t spend very long here, and wasn’t very thorough, they were kind of in a rush “.

  • Excellent-EXCELLENT comment… If you don’t mind I’m going to print this one out and put it up on my office wall.

  • stuto1

    I just had a new customer cancel by texting me, only had 2 services and no explanation was given. I don’t do contracts, maybe thats part of my problem?

  • Death by text 🙁 — I don’t do pest contracts either (I do termite) That’s part of the ‘draw’ of why people sign up with me as opposed to the heavy legalistic hand of the big company contract…the down side is exactly as you say= it’s just too easy for them to cancel……. I haven’t been canned via text yet but I keep waiting for a Facebook status update from some of my customers/followers … Mrs. So & so changed her pest status from “has service” to a”available” lol

  • stuto1

    My other favorite cancel reason is because “we have a Desert Tortoise now”! That same reason is also why another customer took my service! She didn’t want her tortoise getting eaten by ants.

  • Amazing 🙁