Three years ago, the Allgood Pest Solutions business plan for 2011 included hiring nine new technicians to help handle company growth and convert 20,000 Sentricon® System customers to Sentricon with Always Active™ technology.
Then an idea sparked and Allgood realized they could fill the nine new positions with their current employees if they could fast track the Always Active technology conversion. The labor savings from reducing service calls to once per year would free up labor within their existing workforce and eliminate the need to hire and train nine new technicians. It was a bold idea.
“We were in the budgeting process when Always Active was brought to us in 2010,” says company owner Chuck Tindol. “We had already planned on hiring up to nine people in the next year. We started thinking that if we were to make this conversion, we could take those Sentricon System technicians and they could do other things. But then the challenge was that we had a three-month window to convert all 20,000 customers before the March swarm season.
“Obviously, with Always Active, what jumped out to us right away was moving from more frequent visits to the home to fewer visits. The biggest thing was saving labor, gas and manpower. But there were challenges to converting all of our customers to Always Active. There was a cost, but we knew in the long run it wasn’t going to be for a one-time savings. It’s a savings every year.”
Tindol knew he had to sell the benefits of Always Active™ technology to customers as well as employees.
“We sent a letter to customers explaining the benefits of it,” he says. “We communicated to our customers that this is a product upgrade and it’s an evolution of Sentricon. We told them why it’s better and we told them that the cost of the upgrade would not be passed on to them.”
Tindol knew this task required laser focus, so general manager Tracey Jenkins became project manager. A former U.S. Army Ranger, Jenkins stepped up to the plate.
“At first, the guys who were doing our Sentricon System monitoring saw the writing on the wall — we were going from quarterly inspections to annual inspections,” Jenkins says. “But we guaranteed them up front that we’re not going to displace anyone.”
Though it appeared to be a daunting task at first, Jenkins says he was able to stay on top of the project.
“To be an Army Ranger, the discipline level is crazy,” he says. “That’s always helped me in my civilian life. One of the things the military teaches you is how to deal with people in every walk of life and how to get the best out of them.
“This whole idea was daunting at first because of the thousands of accounts we had to convert in 90 days,” continues Jenkins. “Once we figured out daily averages and our workforce, it was just about pushing the team to get it done. We had some bad weather in January of that year, a lot of rain, so we had to work extra hard after that.”
Tindol says all employees stayed with the company after the conversion. Several Sentricon System technicians moved into general pest control, mosquito control and even supervisory roles. The results: new opportunities for career growth, labor savings every year thanks to reduced service schedules, and satisfied customers who have the latest innovation in termite control.
“Laying people off is not in our culture,” says Tindol. “We want to create opportunities for our employees. Our brand promise is that the customer wants us to get rid of their problem, be careful around their family and that their technician should be a good person. With that baseline, this product is a better product so we’ll solve the termite problem, be less disruptive and, internally, we’re creating opportunities for our employees. The pieces in the puzzle really came together.”
And once it was all done, the Allgood team was stronger.
“It felt really good once it was all done,” Jenkins says. “It was a great team effort and it took a lot of people to pull together, from servicing technicians to me heading up the program. There was a great sense of accomplishment.”
Three years later, Tindol says that this effort has paid off consistently.
“We looked at what our labor was in 2009 and 2010 for Sentricon and compared it to what it is now,” Tindol explains. “We really did save that much money year after year. We’ve even been able to add a huge number of accounts since then, and we can manage the process with our current staff. It’s great.”