The House That Frustration Built

By Hope Adcock

In this age of visual and audio bombardment, it is a daunting task to stand out among the dozens of fellow pest control providers in your service areas. In the 9-10 seconds you have to win or lose a potential contact, how do you prove you are more capable? What can you do that the homeowners themselves cannot do with the help of the local hardware store and the internet? How can we push our company brand and service options in a way that hasn't been or isn't currently being done? 

The Pest Control industry is made of fine lines that we dance daily. The line between education and information inundation is the main one we struggle with. If we fail to educate as to the services we offer and how they work and are performed, we run the risk of dissatisfied and lost customer relationships. On the flip side of that coin, if you are overzealous in your attempts, you can destroy all loyalty and confuse the client.

As a sales professional no one understands the old adage “live by the phone die by the phone” more than I. It was a struggle to find ways to stay in the public eye in areas where there were literally 15 providers covering a single zip code. I was unable to find new ways to address those ever present ladies in the room, Mis-Understanding..Mis-Information..Mis-Education. In the ocean of DIY, trade shows and community events became my life preserver.

The first event was definitely a learning experience. It was quickly determined that it was not very practical to drag a french drain display, wildlife traps, etc... and try to shove it all in the precious real estate that makes up a 10x10 space. The thought of not taking a visual example of ALL our services terrified me. What if a precious moisture remediation lead was lost because they didn't see our shiny dehumidifier or were curious as to what was in the 20-gallon tanks? Out of this frustration the Service and Education House (S&E) was born.

Using our company brochure, the next month was spent transforming a flea market dollhouse into a physical representation of not just our services, but our company brand. It sounds pretty cool until you realize most dollhouses have never had a need for termite remediation or wildlife exclusion. With the aid of cotton ball T.A.P. Insulation and button Sentricon Stations, we brought our brochure to life. Everything from bats to conducive conditions are represented as well as subtle branding. Miniature bibles and a picture honoring our founder Reverend Ralph E. Clegg were included. Small planes pay homage to our President Phil Clegg's love of flying and history with the Forestry Department. A small cape hung from a coat rack ties into our current marketing. The company logo, history, and mantra are represented in the “yard” of the house.

The S&E House not just allows the explanation of practical applications, but allows our future base to see how unresolved or undiagnosed issues can affect their home. It is now personal. Using the brochure that is stacked beside the house as a guide or key, future customers “explore” the home at their own pace and approach on-site staff on their terms removing the feel of a strong-arm sales attack. The open and free dialogue enables us to educate not just potential customers, but also educate and cement the relationships with our current base. 

In shows prior to implementing the house, the typical traffic was young children drawn to the live insect displays and their parents. Since the house, the traffic has become more diverse. Single renters, new homeowners age bracket 25-35, established owners aged 50 and up and property managers were now visiting and spending double the previous average time. The leads gained from the recent shows resulted in a higher close rate as most of the presentation had already been done using the house as a tool.

An unforeseen side effect of the S&E house was not just the ability to educate about our services/conducive conditions, but also our industry. As a female in a male-dominated industry, the look on a young girls face when she realizes there are non-traditional career choices is humbling. By taking the time to explain the numerous opportunities in our field ranging from chemical development to amazing certified inspectors/wildlife damage control agents, we are helping to secure the next generation of strong women to represent our industry.

The pest industry has not been strongly represented at career fairs in years past, and certainly not by females. I have been fortunate to meet several amazing young ladies who are truly our industry's future. Their interest and love of insects and wildlife, if properly nurtured and encouraged, will not only benefit us as providers but the community as a whole.