Mobilize your business with digital communication

Digital communication, routing and processing can transform your business, not only saving time and money, but also retaining your customers. However, “tech for tech’s sake is not useful,” warned Andrew Barrows, chief strategy officer of Greenix Pest Control, during a presentation at the 2021 Lawn & Landscape Technology conference. “If you don’t implement it, manage it effectively, or choose the right technology, you can go backwards,” he said.

One element that Barrows sees as beneficial to customer retention is the use of electronic communications both internally and externally. Based on internal studies, Barrows said it determined that 60% of calls to call centers were related to scheduling rather than sales or other customer service issues. For this reason, he is a proponent of moving 75% of business and tech communications to text or web chat. Customers can text or go online to change service days or leave an instruction for a technician without worrying about call center hours, pressing the right number to reach a representative or any other frustration with calls.

Electronic communication benefits your business because it reduces the time needed for scheduling and callbacks and reduces the need to train or staff a call center. (Which, Barrows added, “is one of the toughest jobs to fill.”) Approaching planning from a strategic perspective can have a huge impact on your company’s operational efficiency and level of satisfaction of your customers. Thus, moving customers from calling to texting increases efficiency, reduces costs, and facilitates customer interaction, providing a better experience.

This is especially true for millennials, who have become the largest part of the workforce and, according to the National Association of Realtors, now make up 43% of homebuyers — the most of any generation. Getting these younger generations (and other tech-savvy people) into electronic communication is usually straightforward. “[They] I don’t want to talk to you on the phone,” Barrows said. “They just want to receive an SMS.”

But there will be others who will be more reluctant to change. One company successfully managed this by implementing a 15% price increase, which was reversed for customers who switched to electronic billing with their credit card number and email address retained for billing automatic monthly. By personally informing customers of this change and discussing it with them, the business of the company has transformed in a year.

However, there may be drawbacks to electronic communications that must be addressed in other ways. For example, the loss of face-to-face interaction can be detrimental to the customer relationship. One company overcomes this by requiring technicians to perform an act of service (eg, taking in the trash, getting a package out of the rain, etc.) at the end of each pest control service. While doing so, the technician takes a selfie and texts it to the customer, including general comments and thanks for their business.

The ability to communicate so easily and immediately with customers, while being more effective in the field, is one of the main reasons why the move to mobile (as in cell phones) is so crucial to business growth. a pest control company.

Another technology that some companies have found beneficial is GPS. In addition to enabling on-map routing, GPS can improve visibility of employee actions and provide tracking and verification if a customer questions their service. Some companies have also incorporated on-board cameras, which have proven effective in reducing accidents and can save insurance money. While this also prompted some techs to quit, believing it was too big an invasion of privacy, some companies considered it a “good spin”.

When determining the use of digital communication, including that of internal training and interaction, pest control companies should also strategically consider whether to allow technicians to bring their trucks back. home and from there. “It’s a balancing act,” Barrows said. If technicians are being routed from home, you lose the cultural advantage of bringing them into the office. But it can also be much more efficient than having technicians come into the office and all leave from the same point. If you choose to have your technicians travel from home, Barrows recommended that they still be required to come into the office on designated days for meetings, trainings, etc. Some companies have managed to allow technicians to work remotely, meeting only in the office. once a month, while others see a better balance in having techs in the office once a week.

Implementing technology that allows a business to go paperless also provides other benefits, such as reducing the potential for a sales consultant to make changes to a contract, creating a location single, easy-to-access location for data retention and paperwork reduction. Every time an employee takes a paper, it costs you money (hourly rate, benefits, payroll taxes, etc.). Every time an employee calls to make a change they can’t make themselves, it costs money.

But a critical aspect of going digital in any capacity is selecting the right software for your business and the right vendor, and then implementing it. “When looking at technology, make sure you have a plan,” Barrows said. Evaluate your procedures and the way you run your business, and consider how new technology will change the way you operate. “Too many people are still doing what they’ve been doing even with new technology,” he said. There will be an investment in the software, but if done strategically it will pay off.

On the other hand, every dollar you spend on your employees and the business is an investment in the future. Ensuring you get a return on every dollar spent, including technology, is key. It’s about “spending money to make money,” Barrows said. “But you have to understand it and you have to execute effectively in order to get a return.”

The author is a freelance writer based in Stow, Ohio.

Go mobile

Stating that “mobile is crucial to growing your pest control business,” Greenix Chief Strategy Officer Andrew Barrows provided 10 ways mobile helps get more done in the field.

Technicians can:

  • Complete proposals, follow leads, sign documents
  • Use with or without a data connection
  • Send emails on the go
  • View basic information for each account
  • View service history and estimates
  • Accept credit card payments on site
  • Use the mobile app for commercial barcodes
  • Capture photos as proof of inspection

Supervisors can:

  • Sync technician schedules and add service stops to a technician’s route from the office
  • Location of technicians by activity

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