Step five: Evaluate success
- Describe two benefits you might gain from evaluating your work.
- List three different evaluation methods.
Some jobs demand a little ingenuity and a little duct tape.
This cage trap was too big to fit into the woodstove, so the NWCO moved the stove and attached the trap directly to the chimney pipe. He’s placed newspaper under the trap to protect the trunk from urine stains. Was the customer happy with this solution? Can you think of another way to solve this problem?
So you’ve finished the job. It’s time to tip your hat and ride off into the sunset, right? Well, maybe not. Have you really been successful? Or is the “problem” just waiting to re-emerge, like some bad horror movie that spawns thirteen sequels?
Should you care? Why spend time on follow-up, when you’re already so busy? After all, you’re confident that you do good work, so you expect success. But it’s not a bad idea to figure out how successful you’ve been. How happy is your customer with the work now?
Evaluations help you to improve your control techniques and your business planning, if that’s relevant. For example, after studying his records, one NWCO realized that it didn’t make financial sense to go out on a call unless he’d earn $50. Otherwise, he couldn’t justify the cost of the truck maintenance, the gas, the time, and all the rest.
There are many ways to evaluate your success. A low-key approach might simply be to give your customers your card, and ask them to call you if they have any problems. But keep in mind that many people don’t return to a business if they’re unhappy—they go to someone else. And they often tell friends and acquaintances about the raw deal that they believed they received. In other words, no news is not necessarily good news.
You could plan a follow-up visit to personally evaluate your success. This, of course, takes time, but you could view this as marketing effort. Many customers will really appreciate this extra effort, and that could lead to great word-of-mouth advertising. Also, you see the situation yourself, instead of relying on someone else’s description. Be sure to leave an inspection report (preferably written) with the client.
If you can’t invest the time to go back to all these sites, you could call or email your customers, or leave them a brief evaluation form to fill out and return (use a postcard with your address printed on it, and provide the postage. Then, all your customer has to do is fill out the form and drop it in the mail).
If you are performing nuisance control work to make money, you’ll want to know how well you’re doing. To figure out your profit margin, keep track of your costs for each job (such as materials and labor). Then add in the overhead (truck payments, gas, insurance, phone, taxes, marketing costs, and maintenance and replacement of equipment, for example). Your income, minus your costs of doing business, is your profit margin.
Once you know your exact profit margin, you can think about all sorts of questions that might affect how you run your business. For example, are you consistently making money on certain types of jobs while losing money on others? Then maybe you’d decide to specialize in the profitable work. Or increase the price for the less profitable jobs. On the other hand, some people consider the low-cost, less profitable jobs as a way to build your client base.
Evaluation helps you become a better NWCO. No matter how often you do it, you can still learn something new.
Higher, deeper, further…optional activities to explore other perspectives about this topic
- Design a postcard you could use to ask your customers to evaluate your work.
- Write a few questions you might ask customers when calling to discuss their satisfaction.
- Start keeping track of the costs of each job. Figure out your profit margin.
- Find a small group of trusted NWCOs who all want to improve their skills. Get together once a month to share tips and discuss any problems you encountered on the job.
- Join a professional organization. It’s a great way to learn from your peers, and to find out about new developments in the industry.
- Learn more about housing construction. How does the unseen, internal structure of walls, roofs, and foundations affect your NWCO work? Talk to some contractors. Ask them where buildings are most vulnerable, and therefore, more likely to be invaded by wildlife.
Sometimes you cannot place your trap inside the building because you can’t get to the attic or the rafter wouldn’t support your weight. If you need to set a trap outdoors, especially in an area where it’s visible to many people, cover the trap. If it’s a live trap, this may help to protect the animal from the weather and predators. People are less likely to interfere, too. (Some might try to free the animal, which, as you know, is not necessarily humane. Some might taunt the animal. Others might vandalize or steal a trap.) Discretion is also important when setting a lethal trap outdoors.
- To evaluate your work, you might:
- call you customer
- send a postcard or email questionnaire
- visit the site again
- all of the above
- What benefits might you gain from evaluating your work?
- you can compare the long-term effectiveness of different products and techniques
- you further impress your customers, which is good advertising for your business
- you can determine your profit margin, which may guide your business planning
- all of the above