If you own a pest control or lawn care business, you already know that you provide an important service to your customers.
Whether you are preventing or removing potentially harmful insects, rodents, or reptiles from residential and commercial properties, or landscaping, maintaining turf, mowing lawns, or removing debris, you want to be a good boss and manage your resources well — particularly your human resources.
Answer the following questions to determine whether you are a successful boss, manager, or supervisor in your pest control or lawn service business. Pay attention to the solutions discussed after each question to help you manage the personnel in your home services industry business.
1. Organization: How well do you plan and prioritize tasks?
Managing pest and lawn projects involves a lot of juggling, and sometimes it can be easy to lose or drop a ball or two. So many things are competing for your attention at once — time, money, and people.
Sometimes, there’s simply more than you can keep track of in your head. You need to have good organizational habits, tools, and techniques at your fingertips for things to fall neatly into place.
If you find yourself struggling to keep up with the many moving parts of running your pest control or lawn care business, consider using a project management software to help keep track of tasks, projects, and operations.
2. Time Management: How well do you focus and minimize distractions?
As they say, time is money. But, as a pest control or lawn service manager, you know that time can mean so much more. Each project has a schedule with a certain amount of time allocated for the completion of each task. You have deadlines.
A good boss uses effective project management skills to manage the schedule and break it down into steps and tasks that are reasonable and digestible for their teams.
Create these time management processes in your pest control business plan and figure out the best way to monitor the processes. Be prepared to adjust your plans to keep every project on schedule.
Think about seasonality — the time of year when your pest or lawn business makes the most money. You can earn additional seasonal revenue by providing special services such as winter preparation, fertilization, or installing new grass sod.
Plan for these services ahead of time. Make sure that you have staff available and the time to complete seasonal work when it is most profitable.
If hiring additional staff to meet seasonal demands is overwhelming and stressful, consider outsourcing to a reliable third party to help with the increase customer needs and call volume.
3. Task Management: How well are you defining and executing responsibilities?
Task management is a critical project and people management skill. Projects fail when tasks are not completed. For the more complex tasks such as managing service technicians, you may benefit from using software and tools that assign tasks and track their progress throughout your project’s lifecycle.
Using project management and CRM tools can help you automate tasks like sending email notifications to clients about payment deadlines. Streamlining processes can help you manage tasks better and free up more time to connect with your team.
4. Communication: How is your message coming across?
Good bosses can clearly and effectively communicate their ideas to their team members.
Communication doesn’t mean barking out orders. It’s a two-way system that uses both listening and speaking. Getting your message across and understood early prevents fixing communication problems on the backend when a message may have been misinterpreted.
Miscommunication in the workplace can negatively affect your bottom line and lower morale among your team. Communications expert David Grossman estimates that productivity losses due to communication barriers cost companies with over 100,000 employees more than $26,000 per worker.
5. Negotiation: Are you building rapport with your team?
Nearly everything you do as a pest or lawn business boss involves negotiations of some kind.
Whether you are working with your service technicians, subcontractors, vendors, or customers, you should be negotiating the best deal for business success. Find and use negotiation techniques that align with your company’s culture. The better you negotiate contracts, the better your chance of staying within budget.
Salary negotiation is an important thing to consider in lawn and pest businesses, especially since many undocumented workers are in the industry. You will be competing with other companies offering the same services, so it’s worth carefully considering the right competitive wages.
6. Conflict Resolution: Are your strategies effective?
Disagreements often occur in business, whether it’s between two individuals or within a group. Resolving conflicts quickly and fairly is a skill that you as a boss should have. It will keep your projects on track and your team and customers satisfied.
Just as with good communication skills, you should allow your people to be heard. Create a work environment where team members are allies and work toward the greater good of your company.
Sometimes your workers will have conflicts with your customers. Make sure that your client contracts are clear and that your workers can fully understand and communicate the terms to customers who have issues with the work your business promised to perform (or not perform).
This practice helps your team clarify and manage client expectations while minimizing conflict and your risk of legal disputes.
A highly-recommended book for preventing and resolving conflicts and miscommunications at work is Resolving Conflicts at Work: Ten Strategies for Everyone on the Job by Kenneth Cloke and Joan Goldsmith. You can find it in paperback at Amazon for $17.79.
7. Team Building: How do you achieve consensus and remain flexible?
You may have a team of good people, but how do they all work together? Seamless teamwork can take time and effort to build.
Some people fall right in and get to work, while others may need some additional encouragement and support. Teamwork and working in groups can be challenging, but a good manager fosters bonding by leading team-building exercises. Incorporating this bonding into the beginning of projects often brings favorable results.
Emphasize that the success of the company depends on everyone. Your business will retain customers and attract new customers when your team is unified, and taking pride in doing a good job for a boss that they respect.
Here are several activities that focus on team building, communication, problem-solving, and negotiation.
The goal is to guide a blindfolded person to a certain point or object, testing how well team members work together and follow instructions under pressure. One person in a small group is blindfolded, and the first team to successfully guide their colleague to the object wins.
Deliver a speech to all of your workers in a routine company meeting. Periodically use jargon and unrelated sentences throughout your speech. Divide everyone into two teams, then ask questions to see who was actively listening. The team that gets the most answers correct wins.
Divide your workers into multiple teams and give each one a simple jigsaw puzzle with a few pieces missing. Opposing teams will have the missing puzzle pieces. Team members will have to negotiate with other teams to obtain the missing pieces by trading pieces or even group members.
How Good of a Boss Are You?
Managing a pest control or lawn maintenance business isn’t easy. But there are some practices that good bosses follow to achieve success.
Guiding, supporting, and directing your team helps to keep your projects on track. Knowing and supporting your strengths and those of your team will help set your pest control or lawn maintenance business apart as a leading model in your industry.
Slingshot can help you keep your team organized and on track with our modern customer communication platform and integrated automations. Request a demo and learn how we can help you and your team reach your goals.