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WIN IN THE OFFICE, WIN ON THE ROAD

Rapid Solutions surveyed pest managers to learn more about the challenges they face in their businesses; here, Rapid Solutions CEO Belinda Smith shares the findings.

We recently asked clients and the wider pest management and building inspection sectors, to tell us about the challenges they faced in their businesses day-to-day and season-to-season. Nearly 200 operators responded.

Not surprisingly, many asked about technology and innovation in products and practice. But some also spoke about technical support and the challenges they face from an increasingly competitive market.

So, what of technology and innovation? There is no doubt that digital communication has dramatically changed the way that all businesses engage with stakeholders and manage operations. But for many in the sector, the challenge is more about managing the customer experience.

As with all sectors, good customer service can give you the edge over your competitor. It’s much more efficient for a business to retain customers than attract new ones, so much of the response we received was around how pest managers could improve their customer engagement to ensure they provided the best possible service.

For most business owners and managers however, the challenge is how they can add value to customers when their own time and resources are already stretched – particularly in the busier warmer months. They have little opportunity to upsell or to relay important technical information that could reduce claims and mitigate risk in the future.

If other members of the team can be suitably trained, it enables owners and managers to delegate these tasks. Administrative staff in particular are best placed to add value to the customer if they are better equipped to understand what the pest technicians do, their work and then be able to communicate this to the customer.

This is about having people in your business with enough knowledge of the industry and processes to be able to recommend the most appropriate service to your clients, allowing your technicians to perform their duties efficiently.

One of the most effective ways to do this, is to invest in training where everyone from the receptionist to the technician is skilled and educated enough to be able to manage client expectations. This is about getting a competitive edge and becoming a reliable and trusted business with a consistent approach to knowledge across the entire business.

We also identified some trends and a move toward innovations in pest control practices. Rodent control has been digitised and computerised in Europe, with activity and bait consumption remotely monitored and services undertaken only when necessary. Likewise, trapping of animals in New Zealand is similarly controlled. Apart from budgetary restraints, the sky is the limit as to where technology will take the pest control industry.

One of the most common themes from the sector was around the use of products and technical information about pest lifecycles, seasonal infestations and best practice management processes. Technical questions also extended to sparrow and starling inhabitation of eaves; minimising the number of blow flies; to the identification of pests in timber that have crossed state and international borders.

We also heard from operators from all states who were seeking advice around risk mitigation and insurance products that best meet their needs and those of their customers.

Another common theme was how operators could manage the expectations of their clients. Many customers are now seeking out their own information and while on the whole, an educated marketplace is a good thing for our sector, it also presents some challenges in terms of our teams being prepared enough to answer questions consistently and in a way that ensures their clients’ needs are met and managed.

Belinda Smith, CEO, Rapid Solutions

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