Scott Svenheim

The importance of training has grown significantly in the last 20 years as pest control companies have discovered the value of developing a more qualified workforce, resulting in higher customer retention. Therefore, companies across the country are spending significant resources upgrading or establishing training programs for their employees. This change in attitude means training is no longer looked upon as an expenditure, like the phone bill or insurance premiums, but rather as an investment.

Our company has gone full throttle on employee training, adding numerous ongoing continuing education programs and online training for remote learners all over the country. From our Florida roots, Truly Nolen has expanded across the country and now operates corporate branches in Arizona, California, Florida, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas and Utah, including two corporate Learning Centers in Orlando and Tucson. We’ve also added many franchise offices around North America, including Canada. Often recognized for our non-traditional marketing techniques such as our world-renowned mouse cars, our company takes training seriously. Emblazoned on our Training Department’s Mission Statement is the phrase “Training is an investment, not an expense,” and at Truly Nolen, we walk the walk.

IN THE FIELD. Our introductory training program for new employees places a strong emphasis on helping employees (or “partners”) handle real-world pest management situations and not merely classroom theories. New employees, including sales representatives, service professionals and administrative staff, learn in the classroom, the field and online, about important topics such as proper chemical usage, safety, basic entomology and pest identification, adding to the knowledge that will allow them to work with the customer as a partner in the pest management process. So, our classroom training supplements field training and e-training, and vice versa.

These programs have helped bring consistency and direction to our training efforts. We believe all companies should emphasize people in their training and recognize these partners as internal customers because the company is only as good as they are. Encourage your partners not to limit themselves in just one area but gain a wide variety of experiences. By learning all the roles in a branch, partners get the best teaching, and when it comes to training, new partners need to set their goals, communicate with their manager, find a mentor to work with and, above all, make a commitment to get the job done.

That commitment to getting the job done is not only carried by technicians in the field but also by our management team. In fact, one of the reasons for the success of our training program is that a reliable “trust factor” has developed between technicians and trainers. Partners can feel good about what they’ve learned, and it is understood that the company cares about their professional development and wants them to succeed.

People skills are essential in making any training program a success. Companies should strive to have their partners feel a sense of accomplishment when undergoing training and let them prove themselves. The diversity in the subjects offered will allow them to see the whole picture and that usually stimulates interest in wanting to learn more. In our company’s case, while the initial portion of our orientation program is spent in the field, there is a long-term commitment that extends into the classroom. Each branch office has a field trainer from whom technicians can further their pest control knowledge through step-by-step, hands-on training.

In a “partner-friendly” pest control industry environment, the emphasis should clearly be on giving technicians, sales representatives and administrative staff the information they need to succeed. It is our company’s philosophy that front-line personnel often are the drivers of the business and that investing in their success is suitable for both them and the company.

Svenheim is an Associate Certified Entomologist and the director of E-Learning for Truly Nolen Pest Control.