“Big data” has been a buzzed about concept in business for a few years. Many pest management companies have a decent handle on their financial data, but some may overlook the key performance indicators (KPIs) available in their routing software programs.
We spoke to a few pest industry software experts to better understand which KPIs pest control operators should be tracking and which mistakes to avoid.
The most common mistake Tom Gibbons sees PCOs making is not defining which KPIs they’re going to track in the first place.
“Small to midsize companies get so wrapped up in the day-to-day that they fail to keep an eye on what’s really going on,” says the president of F&W Pest Control in Wrentham, Mass. Gibbons also serves as an industry strategist for PestPac by WorkWave.
He recommends PCOs start with the basics by relying on the default reports available in their software program’s dashboard and compare them to industry norms and averages.
You can access some of these pest control industry benchmarks by downloading the 2019 Pest Control Industry Operating Cost Study, a report completed last year by our accounting firm, PCO Bookkeepers, using 157 of our PCO clients as subject companies.
To go beyond the basics, here are a few more KPIs pest management professionals may want to consider both in the office and out in the field.
In the office
New customer growth is one KPI Gibbons recommends tracking with your software.
There are growth/loss reports you can run to pull that information fairly easily,” he says. “We’re looking for over 10 percent growth and we look at it month to date and year to date.”
The customer retention rate is another important one for Gibbons. “It’s foolish to pay for leads if you’re not watching what’s going out the back door,” he says.
To track customer satisfaction, F&W uses the Net Promoter Score (NPS) method.
“We ask (clients) to do a Google review of the service and give us an NPS rating every 90 days,” he says. “We use the functionality through PestPac to do it, but some folks do it through a service called Podium.”
He’s looking for ratings of 4.7 or above on a scale of 1-5 for the Google review and an NPS above 80 percent, indicating customers would recommend his company to friends or family.
“When 85 percent of your customer base is promoting you, that’s pretty cool,” Gibbons says.
From a sales standpoint, F&W is looking at inbound leads as an important KPI.
“With the amount we spend on marketing, we’re making sure our dollars are being effective,” he says. “There’s a lead management platform in PestPac that our sales guys love. We can track everything that comes into the system and an associated dollar value with it.”
Sales team members’ closing ratios are another metric he recommends, as are average dollar amount per sale and whether those sales are recurring vs. one-time services.
In the field
From a technician perspective, PMPs shouldn’t ignore the technician efficiency score, says Mark Stewart, key account executive with PestRoutes. It’s the drive time compared to on-site time per job.
“It tells you if there’s a lot of windshield time for the technician, so you know if you’re wasting a lot of gas and time between jobs,” he says.
Alongside the efficiency score, Stewart recommends pest professionals monitor actual vs. scheduled time for each job. Some software programs like PestRoutes allow for time tracking via their mobile apps, improving the accuracy of this data point.
“As a manager, if a technician has a low actual, you can jump in to see what this person is doing wrong,” he says.
Similarly, Gibbons recommends tracking the technician hourly rate. “We see customers within PestPac trying to be above $130 or $140 per hour,” he says. “You want to make sure you’re utilizing technicians effectively.”
Another technician-oriented KPI that Stewart recommends is daily production rate – “How many services did the technician do and how many were possibly for the day?” he explains. “If you have someone with a low score, you can focus your marketing or sales efforts in the area to build the route.”
Callbacks are another metric Gibbons’ firm keeps an eye on. An uptick in callbacks can indicate if a change in product or staffing is causing any problems, he says.
KPIs are all about knowing where to focus your efforts to improve, Stewart says. “Once you find those techs who aren’t selling the next-door neighbors or aren’t getting referrals, you can help train them, grow their routes and make the whole company more profitable.”
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Scaling a Business
There are barriers to scaling a pest or lawn business that can be broken through when implementing certain branding strategies. I will go into detail on these proven strategies and explain how a company can implement this change to help them grow their business.
Brian Post is a CPA and Partner of PCO Bookkeepers