Perhaps my favourite kind of person is the one who thinks they can do your job better than you can. You know they type, the Harry Enfield character who just knows they would make a brilliant pest controller.
It seems to me, they are often just bored in their own jobs and they assume what we do is easy because all they see is us checking the occasional bait box. It isn’t uncommon to be asked if we have any jobs available. Now, I’m giving away a trade secret here, but the answer we say in our heads if nearly always, ‘No way!’
Good pest control technicians are highly trained and have to cover a wide variety of roles. We see too many unqualified companies, in dodgy vans, who obviously just think it’s a case of spraying pesticides around the place. That isn’t what the job involves. For a start, it can be very hard work – you try lugging bag after bag of pigeon waste down flights of stairs!
Also, pest controller isn’t a single job. There are a variety of roles that come under that umbrella – technician, field biologist, service management, training and quality assurance. I feel fortunate that Cleankill employs some amazing pest controllers, but partly that is because we truly believe in constant training and development.
So, what do I think makes a suitable candidate for a good pest controller?
For the purposes of this blog, let’s assume you don’t have a criminal record and can pass all the checks to be allowed into some of the more specialised environments you may be asked to visit – for example, schools and nurseries. In that case, you need to be:
- Organised, smart and tidy. You also need a vehicle that doesn’t look like its been through a warzone and one that is well organised. Customers need to trust their pest controllers and that isn’t going to happen if you look a mess and are disorganised. The good technician also needs to be organised in the way they approach the working day, reducing mileage and being more efficient for the client.
- Honest and Truthful. Integrity is a large part of our job. Sometimes customers ask you do things that are unsafe, against company policy, or even illegal. A good pest controller will resist, but in a nice way. These situations, and we’ve all faced them, can be turned into a positive if you truly know your stuff and can give the client a suitable, legal, alternative. From personal experience, one of the worst groups to deal with are head chefs. Kitchen brigades are run like military operations, the name isn’t by accident, and they are used to getting their own way. You therefore have to be quite resilient when dealing with an aggressive head chef, but if you know you are right and have a practical alternative at hand, and if you stick to your guns, you’ll ultimately get a better result. Plus, you can sleep easily at night!
- Reliable. We often work alone and this isn’t for everyone. Today tracking devices are used to keep account of vehicles and clients, so the unreliable don’t last for long. Customers are the most important people – if you make an appointment, you have to be there.
- Practical. Not everyone is MacGyver, but you do have to have modicum of practical intelligence to do this job. I wouldn’t class myself as the most practical person but I do know how to fulfil most tasks professionally, and we are a team and some of the people I work with leave me open mouthed when I see their work. Because we focus on prevention, not destruction, we must be able to work out how pests are entering a property and then install professional ways to stop them. Oh, and did I mention the bags of waste you sometimes have to remove by hand!?! It isn’t always for the faint-hearted.
- Discreet. People can, quite understandably, be embarrassed or concerned about pest problems. Businesses don’t necessarily want other people to know about them. You have to make sure you only talk to people who can know about a problem and make sure you keep quiet to everyone else. For example, bed bugs are becoming a major problem. Imagine you are a hotelier that calls us in to deal with a potential problem, she or he does not want that knowledge getting around because it could destroy their business.
- Professional. Not everyone deals with a pest problem in a rational way. It’s rarely Tom and Jerry levels of hysteria, but it does happen. You have to be the calm professional who is there to deal with the problem. It can, sometimes, seem like you are the counsellor.
- Knowledgeable. Obviously, you’ll get training (well I hope you do, I’m not always sure with some companies I’ve seen). We train all our pest controllers to a minimum of RSPH Level 2 – you’ll be amazed what you need to know to pass that. In addition, you need to be constantly on top of new developments and new techniques, to remain the first choice of pest controller for your client.
- Safe – for the client, their family and animals, for you, and for the general public. Recklessness, in any area, it not acceptable in modern pest control. The consequences can be devastating. This approach needs to be in all aspects of the pest controller’s work life, including driving to and from clients.
Now, I’ve hardly been comprehensive in what is needed but it does seem to me that these are qualities you can’t just step into. You must be a certain type of person to do this job.
One of the things that makes me proud of Cleankill is the quality of employee we have. Constant training and development play their part but we are also looking for the right kind of person. I know we have one of the best teams in the industry but what keeps us there is the final quality – a desire to constantly improve. It’s what drives all of us all, from pest control technician to managing director. No one is perfect, but we can all strive to better.