The last thing PMPs want to hear is a client complaining that their technicians never showed up to provide a promised service. When faced with such an issue in large-unit apartment complexes, Kevin Thorn, owner of Utah-based Thorn Pest Solutions, came up with the idea of “leave- behind” marketing cards.

Prior to creating the leave-behinds, Thorn Pest Solutions, which specializes in commercial pest control, received consistent calls from property managers who had received complaints from tenants claiming technicians never showed up. Thorn, who recognizes the value of such clients’ time, knew he had to solve the problem to make the lives of property managers easier and, in turn, promote a healthy relationship between them and his company.

The main difficulty with providing service to multi-family housing is keeping everyone on the same page, Thorn said. The immediate purpose of the leave-behinds is to inform tenants that a service has been provided.

In addition to being informative, Thorn’s leave-behinds act as a form of marketing. Thorn Pest Solutions tries to take a helpful and consultative approach to all its marketing, Thorn said. Therefore, its leave-behinds are targeted at limiting the stress of property managers.

“Managers talk to one another,” Thorn said. “If we can do these small things — communicate better to tenants — that means [managers] get less tenant complaints, they have less hassles, they know that something is being communicated.”

Thorn Pest Solutions’ “sorry we missed you” leave-behinds help communicate with tenants who may not be home during service.

Thorn noted that serving property managers by helping limit their stress gets them to promote Thorn Pest Solutions to other managers.

“You have to do something talk-worthy and remarkable to get them to open their mouths,” Thorn said. “So, I think it’s important for us to look at how we can help those people who buy our services.”

Such word-of-mouth marketing is important in business-to-business work, Thorn said. He also emphasized the necessity of business owners keeping their ear open for any weaknesses that might be shared. “We’re constantly looking for things in our processes that are weak points,” Thorn said of the complaints they sometimes received from tenants.

Thorn, the recipient of NPMA’s 2018 Young Entrepreneur Award, said since using the leave-behinds, “it has cut down on those (complaints) drastically. Almost to the point where they don’t exist.”

Thorn says the leave-behinds, which also contain a list of tips for tenants to prevent pest infestations, could work in any market, residential or commercial, and in any industry. It is less about the piece and more about how it helps the client, he said.

“Any market — and any industry for that matter — is finding those things that actually solve a real need,” he said.

Although Thorn Pest Solutions doesn’t have anything in the works now for future leave-behinds, they plan to continue using the pieces, along with their other forms of marketing, including education, consulting, online marketing and additional creative marketing.

Kevin Thorn wrote “Here to Help” for PMPs serving commercial accounts.

Thorn said that most of his company’s marketing is in the form of training and education.

“People want education and are looking for education,” Thorn said.

One example of both education and creative marketing is Thorn’s book “Here To Help: Pest Management Solutions for Commercial Properties,” which he wrote to help PMPs in the commercial pest control industry.

“The purpose of that book was to educate,” Thorn said. “Whether or not we got any sales out of it. It was something that I felt was missing.”

Thorn Pest Solutions, which is 80 percent commercial/20 percent residential, also mails customized “bug boxes” with plastic insects in them to provide a laugh and get people to remember the company name.

“It’s time-consuming, but we have to give them something of value,” Thorn said.

He emphasized that creative marketing is all about building trust and making sure clients and customers know what is going on.

“They don’t live in the world of pest control. That’s where we live,” he said. So, it is important for companies to help their customers by providing them materials and information they need, he said.

The author is an Ohio-based writer.