‘Pesties Giving Back’ is a new segment of Professional Pest Manager magazine, sharing the stories of pest managers who give back to their communities.
Doug Balsom (pictured above, left) is the owner of Serial Pest Control based in west Sydney. He and his trainee technician Timmy service the greater Sydney area and have close ties to the local community around Marsden Park.
Since leaving a large multinational pest company and setting up his own business in 2017, Mr Balsom has made it a priority to give back to those in his local community. For him, this means everything from performing free pest treatments to holding small fundraising events, as well as sponsoring those taking part in national campaigns such as Dry July, and the Leukaemia Foundation’s World’s Greatest Shave.
Working in one of Sydney’s lower socioeconomic areas means that there is often the opportunity to help those who are unable to afford a much-needed pest treatment.
“We live near Mount Druitt, a low income area with a lot of commission housing. There are lots of hardworking people here. Sometimes a customer will contact us, and they’ll have a bad infestation, usually of German cockroaches. When we visit the site it might be obvious that they’d struggle to pay – so we do it gratis for them.
“It’s the same with elderly customers. There might be an old lady with a wasp nest, which we will treat for free. We do that quite a lot.”
By taking an active role in the community, Mr Balsom finds that Serial Pest Control is often recommended by one person to another, helping to build a positive reputation.
“Sometimes if we do a free job for someone, they recommend us to others, those who can pay. But it’s not about being good for business, it’s about karma.”
As someone with six children and eight grandchildren, Mr Balsom also enjoys giving back to the community’s younger residents. In July, Serial Pest Control plans to spend the day at the local shopping centre offering free face painting and balloons for children. Mr Balsom also gives away small treats on a regular basis.
“When I park at the shopping centre, kids will often point to my van as it’s got a big redback on it. If I see them, I ask their parent’s permission, then give them some pencils and a colouring book.”
Serial Pest Control is a key sponsor of Blacktown City Bears football club, which in recent years has struggled to gain sufficient sponsorship to remain open.
“My stepson used to play for Blacktown, now my grandkids play for them. It’s only a little club, so they struggle to get sponsorship and face being pushed out by other, bigger clubs. As well as sponsoring the club, we’ve donated registration fees for kids who can’t afford it. By paying the fee, kids who can’t afford to play can join in and be part of it.”
Mr Balsom also believes in valuing his customers, which he shows by offering regular giveaways.
“We’ve given away all sorts of things to our customers – a weekend away, a vacuum cleaner, a barbecue, spa days, that kind of thing. We give a ticket to people who book a job with us, then draw a winner. We sometimes do it through Facebook, too. People don’t have to spend any money to enter, we just give things away for free.”
For Mr Balsom, the idea of ‘paying it forward’ underpins his business practices. “I‘m very much a believer that you can’t take, take, take – business can’t all be about profit and dollars. It’s about the people around you. It doesn’t hurt me to miss out on a few hundred dollars here and there but it means so much to other people. It’s all about paying it forward.”