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My analysis on lessons learned riding with technicians – Part I

My analysis on lessons learned riding with technicians – Part I
By Austin M. Frishman, Ph.D.

While training service technicians has greatly improved over the years with in-house scheduled classes, seminars and online materials, some things still slip through the cracks. Having ridden with more than 400 different technicians, I have compiled a list of common mistakes made by technicians. Use this list to formulate a detailed on-the-job training guide, and expand it to cover other items specific to your company practices. 

I preface my remarks by saying that no one technician exhibited all those characteristics, but that the items listed do occur frequently among many technicians. By recognizing them, you can change old habits and prevent them in new technicians.

  • Technicians tend to develop tunnel vision. They can get into a pattern, such as always walking around the exterior or interior of a structure in the same way. Train them to stand back and look at the bigger picture before focusing on one particular target.
  • Their ability to identify specimens can sometimes be sub-par because they don’t have containers needed to collect or properly label pests. More and more technicians are taking photos of pests on their smartphones and asking someone in management what they found, which is a good habit. However, you need to ensure you’re providing the proper tools they need to do their job.
  • It is human nature to take shortcuts from time to time. Once technicians are ready to go out on their own, there is little to no follow-up quality control in the field. If you hire a field supervisor, make sure he or she isn’t covering different routes when technicians are sick or on vacation, which could leave little time to actually supervise the work in action.
  • Technicians have a tendency not to carry business cards, or do little to nothing to solicit new business even when asked about their services. It is up to you to train them on these protocols and provide them with materials like business cards.
  • They don’t always write down valuable information they learn about the accounts they service. Some technicians claim they can remember it without writing it down, or that their office does not add the information appropriately once delivered. Make sure both your office and technicians have the materials needed to take down information at any time.
  • Equipment is not working properly or has been missing for weeks or months. Conduct weekly audits on each vehicle and require technicians to sign a statement that all their equipment is present and properly working (unless otherwise noted, in which case it can then be corrected).
  • Technicians may not be maintaining accurate record-keeping, ranging from the amount of product being used across properties to if their driver’s license is expired. Your office needs to be diligent in checking the information put down by technicians to avoid potential problems later on.

Stay tuned next month for Part II. In the meantime, use this information to take a critical look at your own technicians and practices, and make any changes accordingly.

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