Punxsutawney Phil the groundhog didn’t see his shadow this week, which is a good sign that winter will be over soon. Those of us who live in the blizzard or ice zone for the winter storm of 2011 will appreciate that.For the groundhog, not seeing his shadow is a good thing; however, as a pest management professional, not seeing your shadow is a bad thing.
How do you see your shadow, and why should you?
Let’s look at a couple of examples, both true stories.
First, perhaps you have an account for ants, and when you get there, the client is freaking out because she has flying ants (but of course, you call them by their proper name, swarmers) in her home. Being newer to the industry, you decide to put out a gel bait, since you know how great gel baits work.
Stop. Where’s the shadow?
Before I explain, let’s look at another example.
You go out to a commercial account, downtown, where Norway rats are showing up. In the middle of the account. No where near a sewer opening. In fact, there’s no openings you can find, or at least, none that make sense.
Now, stop again. Where’s the shadow?
If you are experienced, the first one should be easy. If it isn’t, pay close attention – this is important.
With the ant swarmers, you’re going to be getting a callback. Why? Swarmers won’t take the bait. Their mission in life is to mate and create a new nest. Your bait treatment won’t work and you’ll get a callback. And there is your shadow. Your error, the flaw in your treatment program. If you go out to the callback and just try something else, without considering why you have a callback, then you’ve failed. Look for your shadow, the flaw that led to your callback, and learn from it. In this case, the new technician had to learn that bait wouldn’t work for swarmers.
In the second example, the shadow your inability to recognize the rat’s entry point into the account. Even for experienced people, moi included, we are continuing learning in our accounts, and the way we learn is through going in, realizing we’ve been stumped or outsmarted by the pest, and then studying the situation, perhaps trying treatments that fail, inspecting, reading, talking with others, and finally learning what we needed or finding what we didn’t see initially, that is causing the pest problem.
You new technicians who are reading this – this is the number one skill to learn to turn this into a successful career that can last your lifetime.
When you stop seeing your shadow, when you decide that you aren’t interested in learning more about the pests and finding new situations, or when you think that you’ve seen it all, then it’s time to get out of the industry.
And for new technicians, don’t see your callbacks as a failure, but rather as an opportunity to look for your shadow, learn, and then, try not to make that mistake again.