In the 25 years since Steve Hotsenpiller and his wife, Anita, founded their pest control company, Steve’s Pest Control, Inc., it has become the largest pest control company in central Missouri. He did it by being fanatical. So much so, he’s there not just for the sale but for the installation, too.
“When I started out, I worked out of our apartment, using two shelves in a linen closet as my office,” Hotsenpiller says. “I worked a day job and then I’d come home, change into nicer clothes, and go out and solicit pest control jobs. I did that until I had enough revenue coming in to quit my day job. I learned that if you’re going to be successful, you need to be almost fanatical about it — live it, breathe it, sleep it.”
That fanatical service to customers led him to become an early adopter of the Sentricon® System, in 1996.
“Sentricon helped make me different than almost everyone else,” Hotsenpiller says. “I was one of the few who could offer not only control but a permanent solution to their termite problem. It separated me from the cheap liquid guys.”
Hotsenpiller takes a strong approach when selling jobs for which the Sentricon System is the best solution.
“I ask customers what they know about termites, and, usually, it’s not much,” he says. “So, then I tell them we can do something on a temporary basis or on a permanent basis. They always say, ‘I want you to kill the termites.’ And I say, ‘I do, too, so why don’t we get this taken care of the right way, once and for all?’ Then I go into how Sentricon works.”
After he closes the sale, Hotsenpiller’s work is not done. He actually helps with installations of the Sentricon System for his customers.
“When the appointment for the installation is made, I’m out there to properly introduce the customer to the technician,” he explains. “I show my customers that I’m not just someone who sold them a product and they’ll never see me again. If they need Recruit AG, I’ll install that and do the paperwork and answer any questions. And usually by the time I’m done with that, the installation is finished by the tech.”
Going above and beyond as a salesman motivates Hotsenpiller.
“If that person had me come to their house, and I persuaded them to use my company, and they trust me, I think they’d appreciate me being the one out there making sure it’s followed through and that they’re completely satisfied,” Hotsenpiller says. “That would make me a lifer with that company.”
Steve’s Pest Control helps its customers understand the science behind Sentricon® with the whiteboard video “The Sentricon System Story.” It shows how Sentricon works, complementing custom literature pieces.
“I had a literature piece made about two years ago,” he says. “I call it Treatment vs. Cure. I tell customers, ‘The best thing I can do for you is kill this colony and solve your problem on a permanent basis.’”
Educating customers is not quick or easy, Hotsenpiller says, but the investment is worth it.
“A lot of times when I do a termite estimate, it’s an hour,” he explains. “I bring the station and show them. I hold the bait, I show them Recruit AG, and I walk them through the whole process and let the customer touch anything. It’s kind of like a show-and-tell, then I leave the literature pieces behind with them. While I do the inspection, I ask them to watch the whiteboard video on my iPad.
“If they’ve already met with the liquid guy who didn’t explain anything, now they understand the science and they understand how we’re solving their problem.”
Once Steve’s Pest Control earns a customer, it is fanatical about keeping that customer.
“We’ve always tried to exceed expectations and deliver the ultimate customer experience,” he says. “We may not be the cheapest, but we’re going to take care of the problem and be professional. If you don’t have a foundation of honesty and integrity in your business, everything else is going to crumble.”
The company capped its 25th anniversary by adding 10,000 square feet to its building.
“I still work in the field as a sales guy,” he says. “It shows we specialize in personal service. We try to make ourselves different from the competition. Besides, when you become a friend of your customers, it’s hard for them to cancel.”