As we move into 2014 most Pest Managers are wondering why the phone is not ringing as much as they would like with the type of work and clients that best suit their business and their business expertise. Whilst at the same time, consumers are looking for qualified and reputable Pest Managers and are unable to contact or connect with one that suits their specific needs. It is often heard said that ‘consumers are more informed now’ because of the internet, however it should be said that, ‘consumers are now more confused’ because of the internet. This leads to uncertainty, and in some cases, a lack of trust when selecting a pest management company.
Since the launch of the new AEPMA website we have been able to extract much more specific data and analytics on how and what consumers are searching, and even in this short period of time we are seeing a trend in consumers looking for pest management providers that are association members and verified by the industry association as suitably qualified and reputable.
In talking to other industry groups, consumers, and digital marketing organisations, this trend is across many trades and service providers, especially from the domestic or home services sector.
Some of the reasons for this, are that a lack of trust exists with a lot of websites, in that, they can be really professional looking and present a particular image or claims of expertise to consumers that is often vastly different to the actual company service delivery and overall experience, leaving consumers wary. Whilst well established companies with high levels of expertise and service skill often have under-performing websites and do not invest in SEO or Google advertising, as they largely rely upon word of mouth to gain new business. These companies are often not found by new consumers until they are called to “fix a problem” created by another service provider. Sound familiar?
So I urge all AEPMA member companies to log on to your profile page on the AEPMA website and update your details and technician numbers or secure additional ‘service area’ postcodes at minimal cost if the ones listed don’t fully represent your area of service coverage. AEPMA membership and listing on the AEPMA website should be a part of any pest management company’s marketing and brand strategy, at least for the businesses that qualify and are accepted as AEPMA members.
AEPMA’s national office activities for the first half of this year will focus toward establishing and revising the new training and assessment criteria, with a good start already under way. This initiative and opportunity for AEPMA to take back some control and set the direction for training and our national competencies for the pest management industry, has proved popular with our members and the industry in general. National office and myself, personally, have received many messages of support with the underlying message of, ‘Enough is enough of the poor training and the loopholes to gaining a pest control licence, or shortcutting “the system”’.
The truth is, no one benefits from the current system except maybe those selling franchises and sub-standard training. Even then, they will find they end up with very low skilled operators representing their brand, resulting in high recall rates and low job prices because they don’t have the skill or reputation for referrals and high paying, loyal, regular customers.
This is also true for the independent “start up” operator that gains “a licence” without the necessary training, experience and mentoring necessary to be successful in this industry.
AEPMA believes that, for our industry to grow and be sustainable, and to have the ability to adapt in the future, we need to continuously improve the service and skill levels of both Technicians in the field and the business owners or operators. If we don’t, as an industry, continue to develop our skills and look forward to the future, the “value” to consumers of selecting a professional Pest Manager will diminish and selection will be based on “price only” – not unlike lawn mowing or cleaning.
PestCert is still alive and well, and is an initiative originally designed to address these issues, by offering a system to assist in continuous improvement and industry best practice. So please, if you are serious about your business and professionalism and the sustainability of your industry, re-visit the PestCert section on the AEPMA website and sign up.
Until next issue.
David Gay, W.R Gay Pest Control