Pest manager Jay Turner explains why attending industry events, such as the 2016 FAOPMA conference, is time well spent.
September has seen another national pest management conference come and go. This year it was AEPMA’s turn to host it, in the form of the 27th FAOPMA Conference at Sea World Resort and Conference Centre on the Gold Coast. For my wife and I, the annual conferences have become a highlight on our calendar.
Since starting our business, attending this event has become much more than simply seeing what’s new in the industry and learning from the numerous seminars. It’s more about the people that attend these events; people with all different backgrounds, experience, knowledge and skillsets, but all with the same interest – pest management.
Many of these people have now become our good friends, with whom we stay in touch throughout the year, but only get to catch up with face- to-face, just for those few days at the conference. These new friends are spread far and wide, not just nationally but internationally; most of whom constantly extend their hospitality by inviting us to visit them and give us first hand insight into the pest management in their country.
The wonderful thing about being so spread apart is that nobody sees each other as competition. They are sometimes willing to share even the most ‘classified’ of information, about their business and the possible secrets to their success, especially over a few cold beers! It’s this sharing of information that I cherish the most, not just trade secrets but even the simplest things like good and bad experiences with products, techniques, marketing strategies and new innovation ideas.
It’s also sometimes very reassuring to learn that other well respected companies are performing and operating in similar ways to your own business, reinforcing that what you are doing is on the right track. It’s like face-to-face benchmarking, but in a relaxed social environment.
For me personally, I will be the first one to confess that it can sometimes be a real struggle to maintain that high level of drive and enthusiasm year in year out, with which I first started our business. The stress and long hours that go with running your own business, combined with some of the repetitive routine tasks, can take its toll on your performance and attitude.
This in turn can also have a flow on effect with your staff and customers. But I find attending these conferences re-inspires and reinvigorates me so much so, that I find myself busting at the bit to get back to work Monday and start implementing some of the little gems I have picked up over the previous few days. I also find I set myself new goals and challenges, to push myself to improve.
Possibly one of the highlights for me has always been the opportunity to rub shoulders with members of our industry with whom I have held in the highest regard. Dr Don Ewart, Dr Stephen Doggett, Dr Theo Evans, Scott Kleinschmidt and Warwick Madden just to name but a few. Picking these industry leaders’ brains is just pure gold!
My wife and I have benefited so much from these conferences that we now bring our entire team along. This does work out to be an expensive exercise, by the time we factor in each delegate registration rates, accommodation and loss of income whilst at the conference. But we both honestly feel that it is money well invested in our business and a small gesture of appreciation to our staff for their efforts throughout the year. And as an unexpected bonus, this year our staff was there to share in our success with AEPMA’s Pest Manager of the Year Awards.
For those of you who haven’t attended either the Rapids or AEPMA National conference before, do yourself and your business a favour and lock it in for 2017. It’s this kind of learning that you cannot gain from courses or Google, and it’s a tax deduction! My wife and I now have our sights set on NPMA’s Pestworld in the USA.