Businesses across the globe, including many pest management companies, are spending more on technology every year. In 2015 alone, small business technology investments skyrocketed by 50 percent, according to Microsoft. Why are companies doubling down on technology? Because when businesses bet on the right tech tools, the payout can be huge.
“For Sprague, we really pride ourselves on innovation,” emphasizes Leila Haas, HR director for Sprague Pest Solutions. “As we all know, it does not matter what industry you’re in these days—technology is really what’s driving innovation.”
Haas says pest control businesses should always be thinking about the smartest ways to leverage technology. “It’s a two-fold situation,” she explains. “First, how can we integrate technology to provide the best training and streamline our process internally? Secondly, how do we leverage technology to best provide service for our clients?”
Donnie Shelton, president of Triangle Pest Control, echoes that sentiment. “The companies that understand how to leverage technology to attract employees and customers stand to gain the most out of tech,” he points out. However, with the barrage of “cutting-edge” devices and software flooding the market every day, it can be difficult to pinpoint the ideal solutions for your unique business.
“There is a ton of technology on the market—some of it is useful and some is not,” Shelton says. “As a leader, you need to have your ear to the ground and be looking for newer technologies that will help, but not necessarily incorporating every new thing. You want to leverage tech, but it needs to make sense for your company and your culture.”
Of course, pinpointing the ideal technology solutions for your business is only the first step. If you want to get the biggest bang for your buck, it’s essential to train your staff to effectively tap into these tools.
Keep reading for some expert advice on how to coach your team to a technology win.
Create a game plan
When it comes to adopting new technology, Haas says it’s important to stay ahead of the game. “We are constantly looking at what’s next on the technology horizon and trying to create a roadmap,” she explains. “So, we look at what steps we need to take today in order to get to that desired future.”
For instance, say you decide to incorporate a new cloud-based pest management system. It’s important to set clear goals for integrating the system and draw up a timeline for achieving each objective. This will give you ample time to train your staff on how to use the new technology. “So, if you say your goal is to be totally within this one system by 2020, then it forces you to think about what steps have to be done today,” Haas adds.
While it’s important to create a roadmap for technology integration and training, you also have to stay flexible. “As we know, technology and software plans can change, so you have to be ready to flex with that,” she says.
Dig into features
As you undergo training for new technologies, don’t forget to explore all of the features. “With most software, only about 20 percent of the features are actually used,” says Shelton. “That means people aren’t leveraging the other 80 percent of features—and then they’re out there looking for other solutions.”
While business leaders are hunting for new tech solutions, the features they need may be right under their nose. “If they would just learn the basic software, a lot of times what they have will solve what they need,” Shelton says. “Usually it’s just a matter of people not knowing all the capabilities of the software.”
By tapping into these “hidden” features, pest management companies can save a ton of time and money. But who can possibly show you how to take full advantage of a software’s capabilities? That brings us to our next point…
Turn to the pros
Once you decide to incorporate a new tech solution, it’s time to call on the pros. “You have to bring in the vendors and have them train your staff on how to use the technology,” Shelton suggests. While these experts can offer comprehensive training for your staff, it’s ideal to have a point person within your business to take leadership of training.
“Ultimately, you want someone in your company who can translate,” Shelton says. “Someone who understands your business but also understands the technology you’re using and can translate between the two.”
Keep it appropriate
Technology training isn’t just about teaching employees how to effectively tap into a new solution. It’s also crucial to educate staff members about how to use the solution appropriately.
With identity theft and cyberattacks on the rise, it’s more critical than ever to protect customer and employee data. In 2016, malicious cyber activity cost the U.S. economy between $57 billion and $109 billion, according to a White House report.
One slip-up could result in major financial losses for your business or even the complete destruction of your company brand. With so much at stake, it’s vital to educate your employees about how to safely handle customer data and appropriately use new technology.
According to Haas, this takes a combination of policy and modeling. In other words, you can’t just talk the talk—you have to walk the walk.
“Technology policy is something that has to provide the foundation, but behavior and modeling are what drive the action,” she says. “It’s a combination of both, and you can’t have one without the other. You can’t live in an organization where you don’t have policy because then expectations can be unclear, and that vagueness can cause risk and liability to an organization.”
However, simply creating and sharing a technology policy isn’t enough. “If you think writing a policy is going to hold up and change people’s behavior, you are 100 percent wrong,” says Haas. “You have to live it, breathe it and most of all, teach managers and everyone to reinforce and model those behaviors on a daily basis.”
Invest in education
As Benjamin Franklin said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” You may have plans to purchase the most innovative, cutting-edge pest management technology on the market—but without proper employee training, you will never see a return on that investment.
“First and foremost, figure out what your business needs to accomplish, and look at what technologies you need to put points on the board,” says Shelton. “Once you figure out what technologies you need, go big on training.”
By Amy Bell