Feature articles

12 November 2019

Strategic storytime: Why don't they pay the piper?

Your association | PPC97 November 2019

Doctors, teachers, accountants, police officers, engineers, nurses… what do they all have in common?

This issue we’re talking about how we show off the value of our trade and our people. All our members own BPCA’s strategy.

We’ve committed to telling the story of one of our strategic goals in each issue of PPC.

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One thousand guilders

Once upon a time, in a small arbitration court somewhere in Germany, the Pied Piper was suing the town of Hamelin for non-payment of services rendered.

“Did I not do as you asked?” called the piper. “Has the plague of rats not gone? Are your winter food stores not safe? Haven’t I stopped the spread of disease in your town?”

“But your fee was not fair!”, protested the mayor. “One thousand guilders! For waiving around a flute? I could buy myself a flute from Amazon. In fact, Gary has a tambourine. He would have done it for a quarter of the price.”

The piper sighed. These people don’t understand my work, he thought.

All they see is a flautist who spent a couple of hours tooting and jigging his way through the town...

They didn’t see:

  • How expensive his professional equipment is or how much it costs to maintain
  • The hours of rehearsals and training the piper invested in his skill
  • His rehearsal room, reception area and little Heinrich the office administrator
  • His public liability insurance, product liability insurance, professional indemnity insurance, employers’ liability insurance
  • His refresher training, continuing professional development days, and the qualifications he’s working towards
  • His promotion costs, his horse (and its oats), his multicoloured uniform
  • Maintaining his accreditation from the German Magic Fluting Association (GMFA).

And so on and so forth.

You wouldn’t dare quibble with your butcher, or the pub landlord, or your children’s teacher, the piper thought.

You wouldn’t say one thousand guilders was too much to pay the town constable to stop a riot or the village surgeon to save a life, he thought.

It’s not until the rats have ruined the winter supplies or infected the town water that you’ll understand my trade.

“If you understood all I did and if you understood all I protected you against, you’d pay me my thousand guilders twice over.”

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Perception and cultural change 

Pest management is still regularly perceived as a panic purchase by the general population.

A few sectors (food, hotels, manufacturing) are starting to recognise the importance of pest management professionals.

But many still think the cost of our trade can be replaced by a Youtube video and trip to B&Q.

Even during a professional tender, we get regular reports from members that cost trumps quality with many a potential customer.

The average investment in pest management services tends to be tiny in proportion to other safety measures.

Our strategic goal is to demonstrate the value of pest management and its people to the wider world.

In other words, we want to elevate “pest professional” to the cultural significance given to educators, medical practitioners and other professions.

Raising the value of something means consumers are willing to pay more to source that service.

Pest management is still regularly perceived as a panic purchase by the general population.

The goal isn’t exactly straightforward. The traditional KPIs for success go out of the window. How does a trade association facilitate cultural change?

Facilitating a cultural shift from a single body is an uphill task, and like reputation, can take years to build up, but be lost overnight.

In the Middle East, pest professionals are held in much higher regard than those in the west.

In the USA, restaurants proudly display their pest control contractor on the wall to show their customers they’re protected. It is possible to change British attitudes.

We know cultural attitudes shift frustratingly slowly. But BPCA has been around for over 75 years, and we’re not going anywhere. BPCA and its members are uniquely placed to get the ball rolling.

Our time

We can split the task into two. As an association, we need to educate the general public about:

  1. The risks of inadequate pest management/pest species
  2. The professionalism of our sector.

It’s time to ask some of the big questions.

What would the world look like without pest management? What is our role in society? Where is the evidence for the story we’re telling?

Once we’ve got our stories, we as a sector need to package them up and get them out to a non-pest audience.

How can you help?

It’s in everyone’s interest to advance our sector.

There are four simple ways to do your bit, to demonstrate the value of pest management and its people:

  • Give good pest advice to your clients – take time to educate them and explain the public health significance of the work you’re doing
  • Let your professionalism shine – be a fantastic, well-informed, pest management professional
  • Join or stay in membership – the bigger we are, the more legislators and associated sectors have to listen to us
  • Share the work we’re doing whenever you see it!

It’s a big job, changing the world – but if we all muck in, we’ll do it.

Pest Control: Zero?

What would the world be like without pest management? Tell us your opinion!


Source: PPC97

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