Some jobs are best done by people. For example, pest control involves understanding animals and insects, chemistry, legal situations, and often requires the ability to physically explore difficult environments. In an industry that requires so much critical thinking, it may seem like there’s no place for automated bots and scripts. However, pest control operators find quite the opposite.
Just because people are the best solution for the physical aspects of pest control doesn’t mean that the industry can’t benefit from the advantages of automation. In fact, there’s a new realm of possibility that’s opening up for pest control companies around the country. While people are the best choice for some aspects of your business, automation is a great choice for the administrative side of the job.
According to Forbes, automation has been specifically shown to increase worker productivity. That’s good for your customers and your company alike. So, pest control providers, it’s time to meet your new best friend: automation.
Experts in the Field
Strategic partner to Slingshot, PestRoutes, has joined us for this blog post to help breakdown automation for pest control providers. With over 1,500 pest control and field service companies relying on them to automate their operations, they have a lot of insight to offer on why more and more customers are asking about automation. (Also be sure to register for this week’s webinar with PestRoutes: Improving Pest Control Business Performance with Automation and Sales Best Practices. We'll also be there to answer any questions on how our solutions integrate!)
Now, together with their expertise, let’s dive into the why, what, and how of automation for pest control providers.
Is Automation Really Necessary?
Change is hard, and can feel like a loss of control. Unfortunately, this fear holds a lot of pest control operators back from taking the leap into automation. How necessary is adding this technology to your suite of tools?
There’s no doubt that the actual work of pest control performed by technicians is still best done by people. However, struggling with dated technology on the administrative side of things can put your business several steps behind the competition. Using top-of-the-line automation can help keep your business thriving. Automation keeps your customers happy, your technicians efficient, and your files and records organized.
The most important consideration in switching to automation is the bottom line so let’s also dig into the data courtesy of PestRoutes:
- Their average customer, who staffs two to three technicians, saves $1021 per week sending voicemails, SMS text messages and email communications.
- Technicians can expect a 12% increase in efficiency using automated processes – a fancy way of saying 1-2 more stops a day per technician.
- On average, customers take back 40 management hours per month and increase billing and collections by 5%.
Numbers don’t lie. If you’re looking for a competitive edge, it’s automation.
How Automation Helps Pest Control Operators
Automation has come a long way from the days of robotic-sounding answering machines and unwieldy computer programs. Today, automation can happen seamlessly behind the scenes. And it’s not just for Silicon Valley tech companies anymore either. No matter what industry you’re in, good automation handles repetitive, boring, or finicky tasks and allows you more time to focus on more pressing issues.
When it comes to automation for the pest control industry, think of the “five Rs.”
Pest control automation can eliminate the mundane or stressful administrative tasks in these areas of your business and allow your staff to focus on activities that elevate the client experience. Let’s explore these R’s further.
1. Routing and Intelligent Scheduling
If your pest control business is large enough that you have several technicians, then scheduling is a significant part of your administrative work. By using automated scheduling software, you can avoid problems like:
- Double-booking technicians
- Wasting time between appointments
- Forgetting to add travel time between jobs
- Missing scheduled appointments
Automated scheduling software can even help you plan the best route from job to job making your technicians as efficient as possible. Bulk scheduling customers, assigning areas to specific technicians, and creating pre-built routes are all things that can be optimized with the latest pest technology. Even scheduling and routing that takes existing appointments into account is possible through automation.
This kind of functionality provides time-saving problem solving that allows your staff to focus on their true specialties.
2. Receivables and Invoicing
Getting paid is critical to keeping your pest control business operating, but invoices can be tedious. If there’s one thing that computers are excellent at managing, it’s tiresome tasks full of numbers. By automating your invoice process, you can guarantee that your invoices will be accurate and done on time, every time.
Automating your receivables process will also allow you to set up automated communications. This means you can send customized emails, SMS text, or voicemail messages based on a customer’s balance or the number of days a customer is past due. Automated reminders will help decrease late payments so you get paid faster.
3. Reminders for Appointments and Follow-Ups
Entrepreneur.com has declared communication to be at the core of all business. At the most basic level, all successful pest control companies involve a lot of communication. If you want to keep your clients up-to-date and make sure you’re not wasting time, appointment reminders and follow-ups are crucial.
With the right automation system, appointment reminders can be customized in frequency, channel, and content. For example, you can set a phone reminder to go out a week before the appointment, an email reminder to go out a couple of days before the appointment, or SMS text reminders to go out on the day of the appointment. After the service is complete, your customers can receive a follow-up email with instructions, details about the appointment, and a thank you from the technician.
4. Responsive Sales and Customer Service
Automation, specifically chatbots and IVR-to-text allows your staff, including your technicians, to service more customers at a higher quality. If a simple or common request can be taken care of via a chatbot in a short conversation, transitioning a customer onto a text platform can alleviate your staff for more urgent customer needs.
If your staff isn’t bogged down with time-consuming tasks, they have more time to invest in their customer’s high touch needs and be there for the customer when their expertise and empathy are needed most. On the other hand, this also fast tracks smaller requests so they are taken care of immediately via a chatbot and scripting so customers don’t have to wait or be put on hold to complete tasks like reschedule an appointment, confirm account details, and more.
According to Business Wire, automation can help improve customer satisfaction by up to 92%. Take time back and allocate it to a customer interaction that calls for more than a short message or follow up and consistently impress your customers with quality 24/7 responsiveness.
5. Customer Relationships
Fear of losing the “personal touch” may hold some companies back from employing automation when, in fact, automation provides the single most valuable resource in customer communication: time.
According to Forbes, personalized customer experience increases revenue and loyalty. Today, customers expect you to remember their names, their accounts and pest history. They expect personalized relationships and they’re willing to pay for them. However, delivering on these expectations isn’t easy, especially for a growing company.
That’s where automation comes in. Automated communication with personal messaging can streamline the customer experience so you’re reaching customers where and when they need you most.
And just by being on top of your tech game with sending personalized messages at the right times, offering flexible scheduling, being available 24/7, and using different channels like text, email, webchat, or even social media to communicate with your customers, you’re showing them that you’re an innovative company that cares about making their experience fast, convenient, and customized.