You’ve likely heard this customer complaint: “Your technician was a no show!”
It doesn’t happen very often, but it happens enough to be a pain. “It’s very frustrating,” said David Brown, owner of Brown Pest Control in Winston-Salem, N.C. You know you have a good technician who does a good job but so many people are getting conned these days their first instinct is to assume the worst; the public’s level of trust “is wearing thin,” he said.
To prove work was done and minimize complaints, pest management professionals employ a number of strategies:
GPS TRACKING. Those who use GPS technology to track service vehicles can pull reports to see exactly where their employee was that day and for how long.
“If the technician did show up, we can give the customer the date, arrival time, departure time” of his visit to the home, said Don Grant, president of Grant Exterminating, Gastonia, N.C.
More than a third (34 percent) of PMPs use GPS technology to track service vehicles and of those, 61 percent use it to provide proof of service, found the PCT 2019 State of the Fleet Management Market survey, which was sponsored by GPS Insights and compiled by Readex Research, a privately held research firm based in Stillwater, Minn.
If the customer pushes back despite GPS tracking data, Thrasher Termite & Pest Control of So Cal in San Diego, Calif., sends the technician back out at no charge. It’s easier than arguing about GPS with the customer, said Garrett Thrasher, owner of the company. “We just give the customer the benefit of the doubt and give that type of customer service. If they do it again, then we likely will part ways with that customer,” he said.
TIME STAMP. Grant Exterminating technicians use iPads for their service invoices and must log in and out of jobs. “This time stamps the invoice and serves as a back up to the GPS,” said Grant. In addition, the company’s routing software shows a photo of the house so technicians know they’re at the correct address for a new service or when filling in for a coworker.
LEAVE BEHINDS. A door hanger notifies customers when exterior-only perimeter services have been performed. “If you’re doing your job correctly, the customer doesn’t see you and doesn’t see what you do,” said Thrasher, who finds door hangers worthwhile even though the company alerts customers the day before service by text and email.
Multi-family housing complexes pose another challenge. “We would get the managers calling and saying, ‘Bill over here says he was in his apartment all day and you guys didn’t come by,’” said Kevin Thorn, president of Thorn Pest Solutions in Pleasant Grove, Utah. Even with time stamps and GPS, it was hard to prove the technician was in the unit, so Thorn recently created a small leave-behind for residents. The card states that an inspection was preformed along with any necessary treatment and is left on the counter, table or bench by the front door. He’s since seen a decrease in these calls. “I don’t know why it took us so long to do it,” admitted Thorn, who has long used leave-behind materials in single-family homes.
DETAILED NOTES. “We really rely on our tech notes,” said Justin McCauley, CEO of McCauley Services, Bryant, Ark. A detailed description of what employees see and do at a home often will satisfy a concerned customer.
Technicians at Loyal Termite & Pest Control, a Rentokil Steritech company in Richmond, Va., likewise keep thorough notes, especially when working in apartment buildings. Gena Lupini, the company’s vice president, encourages them to “write down something that stood out just so you can remember when they accuse you of not being in there.” Such an item might be the large, gold horse statue sitting in the middle of the living room floor.
TALK TO THE CUSTOMER. David Brown of Brown Pest Control asks technicians to knock on the door and let at-home customers know they’re there prior to doing an exterior perimeter treatment, and to repeat this when the service is complete. If you don’t go to the door when you’re leaving they might think you were just there for 30 seconds, he said.
If customers are not home, Brown’s technicians call them before leaving the property so they know the service was completed and to contact the office if they have any questions or concerns. “Everybody has voicemail,” said Brown.
TRACK EMPLOYEES CLOSELY. Kevin Thorn of Thorn Pest Solutions thinks pest management companies eventually will track the actions of individual employees while they work in homes and yards using the GPS in their tablets. “In the next few years I think that’s going to come a long way” and help make pest control even more transparent, he said.
Of course, other people already are closely monitoring your employees. “We instruct our techs that a lot of customers, or their neighbors, have cameras to monitor their property, and those cameras can be monitored remotely,” said Don Grant, Grant Exterminating.
“I tell the guys you’re on a camera at three quarters of the homes you’re at,” said Garrett Thrasher, Thrasher Termite & Pest Control of So Cal. People with video doorbells even can share footage among themselves so they’ll all know if a technician missed treating the back corner of the house, he said.