Pests news from BPCA

03 August 2020

Engaging with pest control clients post-Covid-19

BUSINESS | PPC100 August 2020

You would have to be living in a cave for the last four months not to know that we are living in strange times. Chris Cagienard, director and field biologist for BPCA member company Pest Solutions, shares his ideas for reengaging with clients now many of our clients are opening up their doors.

Contact after covid-19 keeping in tocuh and reengaging with your clients pest control

The Covid-19 pandemic has tossed many of our businesses into a state of chaos from the outset. Many of us have adjusted and are getting used to operating in the new normal. Some have not.

Some of our customers have carried on with services as normal; some have not. Some have made changes to the way we deliver services; some have closed. Some have disappeared off the radar altogether.

We must take control and make sure we are engaging with our customers to ensure we are in control of our businesses. If we have found it hard to communicate with customers during this time, it is imperative that we make the necessary effort to reengage.

You're there for your customers, but do they know that?

When the Covid-19 Lockdown kicked off even the best-run businesses in our industry entered a period of chaos as we tried to find our feet in how we could safely go about service delivery.

We needed to establish what was safe and appropriate for our people and our customers. Many clients would call and ask if we were able to attend at all.

We are still finding that with some new enquiries we are still being asked if we can attend at all. We are letting them know that if we adhere to our Covid-19 procedures that we can do this safely.

I am certain that the majority of our BPCA members will have made every effort to reach out to all of their customers to let them know that they are available to respond when needed. However, we have had more calls than I can count from the clients of other contractors saying they can even get a response from them, let alone a service.

Some pest control businesses have decided to suspend their services during these times, and that is one of the options available, but if this is the case and customers are unaware then your business may be vulnerable to losing clients if they don't know where they stand.

Make sure to keep your customers informed what the status of your service offering is to reduce the chance of customers becoming frustrated.

My customer wants to cancel their contract

Many of us will have already experienced some customers, especially in the hospitality industry, express real concern for their business to the point of cancelling a lot of their supplier contracts.

Some will have made contact to make this request, some will have just cancelled their direct debits, and a portion may also just fail to make payment of their invoices as they fall due.

In these unprecedented times, this is entirely understandable as many of these businesses don't yet know what their future looks like. However, we need to make sure we are proactive in safeguarding the security of our businesses while trying to support our customers. How should we respond for the best short term and long-term outcomes?

The truth is, as we all know that for many of these businesses that maintaining a pest-free environment is a significant priority in ensuring that they can reopen at the other end of lockdown with minimal disruption. The last thing a struggling restaurant needs when trying to encourage customers to return is a social media post about a rodent sighting by a customer. That could be enough to see the doors close for good. If we can stress the importance of keeping pest control services running uninterrupted, then that would be the best solution for the customer.

The BPCA Staff team have produced some great resources to help educate clients towards this position.

Member documents  (login required)

Risk of bad debts

However, this may not always be the best solution as the reality may be that there is no ability for the client to meet their billing obligations. None of us wants to work for free, but if there is no money available, we may not get paid.

Have you considered assessing the risk of continuing to carry out a service you may not get paid for vs offering a payment holiday and a service break? In some cases, this has proved to be the best solution for many of our businesses allowing us to shrink our servicing obligations and participate in the furlough scheme.

We could find ourselves in a worse position by pushing too hard to insist on delivering a service that can't be paid for — leaving your business out of pocket and with a strained relationship with the client.

Opportunity to cement client relationships

Although we have tried at every turn to educate our customers of the benefits of keeping their service in place, which many have done, some have appreciated the offer of flexibility to support them through these difficult times.

We have found that being proactive in contacting our customers and reaching out with options to help them get to the other side if this situation is a stance that they have been very appreciative of.

We have an opportunity to cement our relationships with clients, ensuring that they are more invested in our ongoing working relationship. When that inevitable knock on the door comes from a competitor offering a cheaper quote, we anticipate greater customer loyalty.

If offering a payment and service break, consider some conditions such as extending the contract renewal date or a clawback of the payment holiday if they cancel your contract in the next 12 months. There are lots of options here to help restore as much of your contract portfolio post-Covid-19.

Opportunity to impress

covid 19 pest ready guidance for clients

The BPCA Staff team and committees have been hard at work to make sure all members have an array of Covid-19 resources at our fingertips to customise and use to engage with our customers.

Make sure you are taking advantage of this member benefit today. Here, at Pest Solutions, we have sent out a Covid-19 pack to all of our customers. We have been overwhelmed by the positive feedback as many of their other trades are not providing such comprehensive information at this time.

The pack we have compiled is based largely on the resources provided by BPCA. Download them and use them in your business to engage with your clients and to demonstrate your professionalism.

Download the Pest Ready guide

Opportunity for new sales

When resuming service following the interruption of a service break or a period of limited access, you may encounter elevated pest issues or proofing issues. The environment and service considerations may have changed.

This may create new opportunities for new sales. It is a fact that many in the industry are reporting an uplift in rodent activity. Many sites that have been quiet or empty may have seen pests exploit this opportunity where previously there was no issue.

Have the confidence to address this issue if it arises and make sure that you are charging for the work that is being carried out.

Customers who have been impressed by your professionalism, support and conduct through the pandemic may also be more likely to refer you to other potential customers. If you know customers are appreciative of your service during the Covid-19 shutdown, then make sure to ask them for a referral.

Engage no matter what

It is so essential to make sure we are making a proactive effort to reach out to clients in the current climate as there is a lot of change on the horizon.

We may not get the news we want to hear, and we may have to make compromises with our service contracts to get through the next 6-12 months. But it will always be better to know exactly what the situation is so we can respond in the best way to protect our businesses.

Don't be paralysed by what is going on; take control. Reengage with all of your customers to make sure you have the strategic intelligence to make the right decisions for your business.

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Source: Online

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