Having owned and operated his own pest control business before joining Syngenta, David O’Neill, Syngenta’s technical sales manager for NSW, VIC and SA, shares his business tips here with PPM readers. 

Owning and running your own business is challenging at the best of times, but can be highly rewarding both financially and professionally. Having previously owned a pest control business, I would like to offer some tips and insights that have worked for me and should be helpful to you and your business.

Professional conduct

Customers’ first impressions are very important – Always maintain a clean uniform and vehicle. Finer details such as this can make or break you winning a job. Look the part; be professional. This helps instil confidence in your customer that they are in the right hands.

Remember you are the expert – but don’t forget to listen to your customer and treat them with respect. Do not be dismissive of them, with the power of the internet, your customers will often be very well read on what they are expecting you to do. However they will value your advice and opinion so why not share it with them.

Communication is key – Be prompt and punctual and if running late for a job call your customer and let them know. Explain to your customer the processes you are going to carry out and ensure that you listen to their concerns and show you appreciate their situation.

Mobile phones

Answer your phone promptly – Customers want to speak to someone now – if you don’t answer then they will move onto the next business and often you will miss out on the opportunity. This is tricky when on job sites, but most customers will understand if done correctly. Just explain to your customer I need to take this call, I will be brief please excuse me. Walk back to your vehicle and take the call, don’t take the call in the house and continue to work, as this will be annoying to your existing client, remember they are paying for your time and your attention so be respectful of that.

Answer your mobile professionally – a good script for this would include a nice, courteous greeting introducing yourself and the business. Straight away this enables the customer to identify whom they are speaking to. Allow the customer to explain their situation and concerns. Arrange a time when you can conduct an inspection or treatment, do not rush into providing a solution over the phone.

Growing your business

Word of mouth – recommendations and repeat business can make or break any business, so why not use these
to your advantage. Ensure that you do a good job, be as neat as possible to leave a positive impression with your customer. This will maximize the chance of repeat custom and strong recommendations. This is particularly important these days due to social media.

Flexible payment options – Consider offering pensioner discounts or payment plans for the bigger jobs. This will make the customer happy and they will tell others about your business.

Be a part of the community – Think about sponsoring local kids sporting teams, this will often be a small cost, which offers great benefits in promoting your business into the local area and surrounding communities.

Leverage local marketing – Approach your local schools or parents and friends committees and discuss a marketing offer with them. For example, provide flyers for the students to take home with reference numbers on them, when the client books a job through your company the school or PFC will receive a percentage of the job. This is great publicity for your company.

David O’Neill, Technical Sales Manager (NSW, VIC and SA), Syngenta