Prospective customers may be a little more nervous about letting strangers — even those who are making business calls — into their homes in the wake of a Philadelphia exterminator murdering a doctor over what’s believed to be a minor disagreement.
However, Brook Collins, president of Bizzy Bee Exterminators in Covington, said people shouldn’t have anything to worry about if they use precaution on the front end.
“(My first reaction) was just how can this happen in our society? (How could there be) people who do things like this?” Collins said.
“To me, the key words I heard were ‘exterminator’ and the first report I heard was that he was a subcontractor, which throws up a red flag to me. He wasn’t in a marked vehicle, uniformed or anything like that. That always raises a question to me that the consumer doesn’t always look at, but they should.”
Collins said the key is to contract with a reputable company that is taking steps to make sure it hires good people. The exterminator in Philadelphia didn’t have any serious criminal background, with only some traffic offenses to his name, but some reports say he had some character issues.
One of the advantages for a small-town company like Bizzy Bee is that many of its employees come from referrals from current employees.
In addition, all prospective employees must fill out an application, which asks for job references, school history, some living history; go through a short interview often while filling out the application and then going through a full interview if they make it past the first cut; and passing a background check.
In addition, Collins said Bizzy Bee has background checks done on all of its employees once every three years to ensure nothing has happened while the employee worked for the company.
Collins said the company doesn’t hire any subcontractors, but uses only its own employees.
There are several steps customers can take before choosing a company, including: asking friends, family and neighbors to recommend companies, asking for and checking recent references from the provider itself (Collins said all technicians should carry a registration card with them from the Georgia Dept. of Agriculture), checking with the Better Business Bureau and other consumer websites, asking the company if it does background checks and buying value, which is different from simply purchasing the cheapest option.
Collins said many companies, especially in the down economy, have tried to make pricing as competitive as possible, but unlike a good or commodity, where consumers can easily compare one to the other, Collins said that’s a little harder with service businesses.
“You need to look at the full service, and the scope of the work being done versus the price,” Collins said.
Collins said checking the local chamber of commerce can also be a good tip, as they will have likely heard about local companies and possibly dealt with them directly.
Bizzy Bee has a 24 employees, including office personnel and technicians, and its technicians visit an average of around 50-70 customers per week, Collins said, so they’re in a lot of homes.
Issues are very rare, but there may be an occasion where either the customer or possibly the technician feels uncomfortable while a service call is being carried out.
Technicians not only receive training on the law from the state and the use of pesticides in house, but they also receive in-house customer service training, Collins said.
If a customer were to ever feel uncomfortable, Collins recommended that the person leave the home and call the company. Bizzy Bee has a GPS in every truck so they know where the truck is and how long its been there.
“If you have an appointment and you’ve done all these steps prior, you should feel comfortable,” Collins said. “If you’re not getting along or you do feel uneasy, call somebody, the office, or a spouse. If you see something way out of the ordinary, I wouldn’t hesitate to call the police.”
At the same time, technicians have to be wary about entering into certain homes and when they feel uncomfortable, they can call the office to discuss the situation with a manager.
Collins said the spring is generally termite season (while the summer is general insect pests like ants and mosquitoes and the winter sees issues with rodents and wildlife), and people can begin preparing now for those destructive bugs.
As for Bizzy Bee, it’s expanding operations down the I-20 corridor, recently opening a new office in Augusta as it seeks out new markets.