For pest control companies, the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly had an impact on the way that business is conducted. While most municipalities have deemed pest control to be an essential service, businesses still need to restrategize their business practices in order to remain efficient, profitable, and productive in the wake of the pandemic and moving forward.
In last month’s webinar, Overcome the COVID-19 Impact on Your Pest Control Business, we explored the impact of COVID-19 on the pest control industry from the perspective of a trusted partner with nearly 40 years of experience partnering with pest control companies to help them reach their full potential. In that time we’ve helped our customers to weather many uncertain times, such as 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy, and we’ve learned that great service leaders push forward to endure these trying times. As such, we shared our insights into how pest control professionals can endure this challenge while simultaneously positioning themselves for future success. This is essential to keep in mind as you develop strategies to take your business into the next chapter of post-quarantine business.
Facing Challenges Head-On
For pest control professionals, COVID-19 and the resulting restrictions and stipulations it has sparked have created many challenges to overcome. Some of them are unique to the industry, while others are issues being faced by nearly every business. In addition to our COVID-19 resource page, which highlights a number of valuable resources for those in the service industry, we’ve compiled a recap of the deep dive into pest control-specific problems that we carried out during our webinar.
Ensuring Cash Flow
Like any business, your pest control company depends on a balance between money coming in and money going out to ensure that you’re profitable. This can be challenging during a crisis, particularly when some customers may be considering canceling or postponing service appointments until things settle down.
Ensuring that your company is equipped to collect and process payments efficiently reduces your cycle time and gets the money that you do have coming in to you more quickly. Additionally, processing payments electronically with a payment facilitator like WorkWave Payments enables you to store customer payment data securely with card not present payments, a high demand option during this pandemic.
Keeping Employees Working
Your employees are the backbone of your business, and keeping them working during this difficult time is crucial. Across the industry, many businesses have seen a drastic downturn in the number of interior pest control appointments their customers are booking.
Most customers are still comfortable having pest control technicians provide exterior services, though, so consider shifting your schedule to fill those gaps. Contact customers and propose shifting their seasonal exterior services of Sentricon installations to a closer date, then use PestPac’s Best Fit and RouteOp features to fit these new appointments smoothly into your technicians’ schedules.
Your business should have a plan for how to keep both your customers and your employees safe during this time. Be sure to provide your technicians with all of the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need; this helps to keep both parties safe, and also adds some peace of mind for your customers.
If you plan to continue offering interior services for those who do need them, you need to take extra precautions for your technicians. Have customers submit a pre-service screening questionnaire covering topics like recent doctor’s visits, any high exposure residents (like medical workers), or any COVID-like symptoms in the household. Communicate with your customers and technicians to ensure that they maintain appropriate distance or, better yet, ask that customers stay in a different room while the service is being performed. It’s also key that you assure your technicians that they have first right of refusal; if they get to a residence and aren’t comfortable with the situation, they can communicate that to you and leave.
Operating in a Virtual Environment
With reduced contact, communication can suffer both internally and externally—but it doesn’t have to. Ensure that your employees are equipped with the appropriate devices to stay connected from home or in the field. PestPac helps keep your teams in sync, keeping documents, notes, and customer information in one place where it’s easily accessible by anyone who needs it. Be sure to read our article on how to get the most out of PestPac during COVID-19 for more details.
Communication apps like Slack are designed to help teams stay connected remotely, as well. With easy access from both desktop and mobile devices, a chat client like Slack can help your team communicate more effectively. From checking in to getting quick answers to specific questions, staying connected virtually is key when you can’t all come together in the office.
Additionally, don’t forget to communicate with your customers. We suggest adding a banner with important information to your site’s homepage where it’s hard to miss. Ensuring your customers that you’re still operating is key. You can link the banner to a full page of COVID-19 information, covering topics like added safety measures your team is taking, changes to your service offerings during the pandemic, and anything else you think your customers should know during this time. Update the page often to make sure that your customers always have easy access to the most current information on your business and how to get in touch with you.
Additionally, take full advantage of email marketing to keep your customers up to date as things develop. You should use call aheads whenever possible as well, to ensure that nothing has changed on the customer’s end prior to your arrival. An online sales portal and booking tool are extremely helpful too, as they enable your customers to get estimates, book appointments, and make payments online without any person-to-person contact.
Using Down Time Productively
Even if you take all the right steps, it’s still possible that the shifting climate around COVID-19 will lead to a reduction in service appointments for your pest control company. That pent up demand is sure to surge when things return to normal though, so it’s important that you take this time to prepare appropriately.
If things are slow, consider taking the time to carry out a full inventory of the materials you have on hand to ensure your files and customer information are organized and up to date, or to work on staffing and employee training for the inevitable return of the busy season. Addressing the tasks you often find yourself putting off can be beneficial to your business and also helps to keep employees active and engaged during this time.