I always enjoying attending the Purdue Pest Management Conference every January in West Lafayette, Ind. The annual event is a great opportunity to both reflect on the pest control industry’s storied past as well as learn about new concepts and technologies that are moving the industry forward.

At this year’s conference, for example, attendees paid tribute to Dr. Gary Bennett, who recently retired after having led the Purdue Pest Management Conference for 50 years; Bennett was “roasted” by friends and colleagues during a special gathering on his behalf. It was great hearing stories about Bennett and seeing how many students, colleagues and pest management professionals were impacted by him throughout the years.

During this same conference, attendees also learned how their peers are using new technology (e.g., remote monitoring) and developing best practices for their operations. One of the speakers I enjoyed hearing from was former NPMA President Ray Johnson, founder and longtime owner of Johnson Pest Control, Sevierville, Tenn. Johnson shared some of the strategic decisions he made that helped his company succeed, including one of his creations — the Pocket Playbook. On a handy, pocket-sized guide, Johnson collected best practices on a wide array of topics, ranging from pest identification to safety reminders to customer communication. For example, Johnson provides his technicians with a sample script to use when addressing customers who are home (left).

This script, as well as other information in the Pocket Playbook, are simple reminders, but I liked Johnson’s explanation for why he created the guides, which are provided to every Johnson Pest Control employee. “I learned early on with employees that you have to tell them what you want them to say to customers about your company. It was a way to create service consistency,” he said.

The PCT staff also dug the idea of gathering best practices into one place, albeit our magazine is not pocket-sized (unless you are viewing it on a smart phone!), so we created our first-ever Spring Resource Guide.

In the pages of this month’s issue you’ll find a collection of articles that cover various aspects of running a pest control business during the busy season. Our coverage begins with preseason training tips for technicians from leading training and technical directors (pg. 30). We then take a look at how weather and home sales may influence the market this year (pg. 32). Maintenance is the focus of “Driver’s Ed” (pg. 34) and “Get Your Equipment in Fighting Shape” (pg. 38), while “Is Your Paperwork in Line?” (pg. 36) reviews the importance of updating and cleaning out tablets and file cabinets. Our coverage concludes with a primer on spring pests such ants, mosquitoes and more (pg. 40), by Dr. Mohammed El-Damir, technical and training director of Adam’s Pest Control, Medina, Minn.

While we realize that this guide certainly does not cover every issue you deal with when it comes to the busy season, we hope it provides helpful insights and serves as a handy, quick reference that in some small way can contribute to your success this spring.

The author is Internet editor and managing editor of PCT and can be reached via email at bharbison@gie.net.