When the Pest Control Company is your most Annoying Pest!

There are times when, if it wasn’t for the media telling me how HORRIBLE the economy is – I wouldn’t know it. This is not one of those times. This is a sad tale of a business obviously struggling to survive the great recession of 2008 and features my former pest control company – Truly Nolen.

Back in 2007, I contracted with Truly Nolen to provide pest protection for my home and yard.  I paid to have my yard treated despite the fact that I pay a monthly fee to my homeowner’s association and their guy rides around spraying what must be water on my lawn every 4 months.

My complaints about my homeowner’s association are legion but they can wait until another day.

Today, I’m telling the tale of Truly Nolen – how I came to choose them as “my” pest control provider – why I decided to NOT continue that relationship and most importantly, how I have become involved in almost a “Fatal Attraction” style “service provider breakup” with them.

Why I chose Truly Nolen as my Pest Control company

I chose Truly Nolen as my first provider of pest control in southern Florida because of the car. In a word – it’s ADORABLE!!! It’s a yellow VW Bug outfitted with ears and a tail.  You used to see it driving all over town. Looking back, I realize it probably wasn’t the most REASONED buying decision I’ve ever made.

Truly Nolen’s Performance as my Pest Control company

I signed a one year contract for pest control for my home and my yard – because I actually SAW a grub on the sidewalk. When I complained to the guys hired by my homeowner’s association – they told me I didn’t know what I was talking about. Those brown spots in my lawn weren’t from insect damage – they were because I needed to water more often.

I hate being lied to!

So I call Truly Nolen.  The Truly Nolen guy comes out and makes a BIG production about the infestation of cockroaches living behind my dishwasher.  EWWW!!!!  My home is less than 3 years old and I’ve got cockroaches!!!  EWWWW!!!!

I’m thinking, “Boy, am I glad I signed a year contract with these guys.”

As the Truly Nolen dude pokes, sprays and heads merrily upon his way –  I feel safe and protected.

Three days later, I am confronted with one of said cockroaches on my front door. EWWWW!!!

So I call and tell them to get someone out IMMEDIATELY!!!  They say they can’t get anyone out until next week.  

Wait – I’m not feeling so safe and protected anymore.

When the Truly Nolen guy finally arrives,  he is obviously having a bad day.  Obviously, Truly Nolen must not PAY their technicians when they have to go back out to retreat a house.  Or maybe they treat him as badly as they’re treating me.

This scenario plays out repeatedly over the next year.  I see bugs – I call – they apologize, stall and then give excuses.  I anxiously await the call to renew my contract.

Truly Nolen never calls. Instead, my doorbell rings as I’m getting ready for church one Sunday morning (yes – Sunday morning….) and my teenage son answers the door.  As I’m getting ready, I see a Truly Nolen guy walking the perimeter of my house.  Before I can get my clothes on, he’s gone.  I ask my son who was at the door and he told me it was the Truly Nolen guy.  He told me the guy had asked if it was ok for him to treat the house and my son said, “Sure.”

I am now officially upset and sure enough, they follow the treatment with a bill for ANOTHER year’s services.

I call and tell them that not only do I NOT want their sub-standard services for another year but the services they provided were based on a verbal contract with a minor which is a HUGE problem for THEM not ME!

Truly Nolen becomes my most annoying pest

Actually, I think I’m being QUITE nice about this with the young lady from Truly Nolen.  She replies, “Oops!  Let me have you talk to my manager.”

She puts me on hold – 15 minutes later, I hang up and call back.  She answers, and I ask to speak with the manager.  I’m now told that the manager is on vacation and he’ll call me when he gets back.

A few weeks later, I get another bill from them – which I call and am told that the manager is STILL not available to talk to me.

I ignore said bill.

Yesterday, I got a collection notice in the mail.  I call the “collection” agency and get an answering machine that loops endlessly telling you to wait for the beep and it never does.

I feel extorted.  Of course I’ll pay the bill.  It’s not worth it to TRASH my good credit over this amount.  Truly Nolen will have won.  They will have gotten to a little bit MORE of my cash.  [NOTE:  After this blog post was published- Truly Nolen representatives contacted me.  Not only did they promptly remove me from collections and credited the account – they also assured me they would be making the auto renewal of the contract more visible in the future.]

The real pity here is Truly Nolen is selling a SERVICE.  They may think they’re selling pest control, but you know what – I can’t SEE pest control – all I see is the surly Truly Nolen tech.  In her post You May Not Be Doing as Badly as You Think, Cath Lawson writes:

Selling a service, especially a more costly service, to your first few customers is far harder than selling a product, because you’re selling the invisible – they can’t see what they’re going to get.

Truly Nolen “got me” the first time with clever branding and effective advertising.  They won’t get me again no matter how cute the mascot or how effective the marketing message.

That’s the way this whole “customer service” stuff works.

When you please a customer – if you’re lucky-  they’ll tell 3 people.  If they’re pissed or disappointed – they’ll tell 16.If they have a blog – they’ll tell thousands – perhaps tens of thousands – as long as the blog post stays “alive”.

Over at the Ignite Social Media blog there’s a GREAT post on Your Customer’s Hierarchy of Needs. You have to get  passed the “satisfied customers” tier – before you can begin to achieve customer advocacy.

So here I am – pissed off and feeling really abused.  It’s not the money – it’s how they’re GETTING my money – via extortion.   It’s the accumulation of multiple bad experiences with several different technicians with the final straw being a hidden renewal clause.

All I can do is wonder what in the world they’re thinking.

What are YOUR customers saying about you online?  Are your customers blogging about your piss poor customer service?  Are your customers pissed off enough to contact a blog which specializes in airing poor customer service?

You build your business reputation one customer service contact at a time.  If you’re a business owner – protecting your online reputation should be a high priority.  Is it?

Authors note:  Over the course of the past three years – this blog post as served as a “lightning rod”  for people who are upset with their pest control company – or looking to find a reputable pest control service. 

In response, I’ve finally launched Florida Pest Control Reviews. as a place where consumers can leave their authentic experiences with various pest control companies throughout Florida. I’m going to close comments on this post – and ask that you head over there to share your experiences.

Bugs are just a part of living in Florida – but they shouldn’t be the lesser of two evils when it comes to dealing with your pest control company.  Feel free to share your experience at

Florida Pest Control Reviews

Disappointing customers without remorse – until the handouts begin

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could ignore, abuse and ridicule your customers and still make money?  Usually, the ability to “ignore” the economic realities of doing business is limited to giant corporations who keep running in spite of themselves.  However, a recent phenomenon is for these giant corporations to come begging for taxpayer money because they’re just too important to our economy to allow them to “go under”.

Reuters reported yesterday that GM has issued a HUGE “mea culpa” to the “American People” in yet another effort to secure more money from the government.   In the article at Reuters, GM says it “disappointed” and “betrayed” consumers:

General Motors Corp on Monday unveiled an unusually frank advertisement acknowledging it had “disappointed” and sometimes even “betrayed” American consumers as it lobbies to clinch the federal aid it needs to stay afloat into next month.

The print advertisement marked a sharp break from GM’s public stance of just several weeks ago when it sought to justify its bid for a U.S. government on the grounds that the credit crisis had undermined its business in ways executives could never have foreseen.

It also came as Chief Executive Rick Wagoner, who has led the automaker since 2000, faces new pressure to step aside as GM seeks up to $18 billion in federal funding.

GM has been making repeated trips to the government hand out trough.  Briggs Armstrong in a post at the Ludwig von Mises Institute blog points out:

It should not be forgotten that in September of 2008, Congress gave the “big three” automakers a loan totaling $25 billion. Now they are back. This time they say that with a mere $50 billion they can turn things around and become profitable in the future.

I can’t remember a time when GM cared about their pleasing their customers.   In the words of just about every business analyst on the planet – the reason GM isn’t making any  money is they aren’t making cars anyone wants to buy!

I love working with small business owners and this is why – because small business owners “get it”.  If they don’t, they’re bankrupt and broke in no time.  Meanwhile, it is going to literally take an act of Congress for GM execs to get it through their collective thick corporate heads that they need to start building cars people WANT to buy.

Remember the blockbuster movie, Transformers – released way back in 2007?  Remember the ultra HOT Camaro featured in the movie?  Remember?  Gosh – I remember.  I haven’t been passionate about a car in DECADES, yet I really wanted to own a new Camaro when I walked out of that movie.  It’s a good thing I couldn’t walk out of the theater and buy one because there would be on sitting in my driveway right now if GM had played their cards right.

Instead 2009 is almost upon us and  you may be able to finally drive one next spring.  That’s right – spring of  2009.   Oh, and instead of featuring the 2010 Camaro in another blockbuster action movie (been there, done that) , the dolts in charge of marketing are giving you a sneak peak during a third rate network television show “My Own Worst Enemy”.  (Is that show still ON television?  Hasn’t it been cancelled yet?)

Can you imagine Naomi Dunford promoting her Online Business School and then waiting two YEARS to release it for sale?  If Naomi were to adopt such an idiotic marketing strategy, you’d seriously doubt her marketing acumen – yet that’s the rule rather than the exception over at GM.

Long live small business!  Long live the small business owners who “get it” and who product products and services that people want to buy!

Why this is a GREAT time to start your own small business!

Actually, anytime is a GREAT time to start your own business – but these days, with the media bleating about how “bad” the economy is – [insert PRIMAL SCREAM] their pessimism may be EXACTLY what you need to begin building your own dream of starting a business. There’s never been a better time to being offering your own solutions to the trials and tribulations other businesses – and the people who run them – are facing every day.

Jason Cohen in a guest post over at On Startups gives 6 Reasons Why This Economy Is Good For Startups. Tom Volkar also has a great post on Grounding your Business Vision. (For some really great tips on what NOT to do once you’ve made the leap, read Cath Lawson’s How Not To Promote Your Business On The Internet)

Why do I make a primal scream over the media’s bleating?    Because I believe  the media is trying their best to turn an “economic slow down” into the next Great Depression!    Consumer confidence plays a HUGE role in the current US economy and when traditional media outlets spend every second bleating about how “bad” the economy is – well, consumer confidence is destroyed and VIOLA!  A self fulfilling prophecy at work.

Scream “FIRE” long enough and when someone finally lights up a cigarette –  people are going to panic!

I’m not saying the US economy is in “high growth mode”.  (By the way, another name for “high growth  mode” is INFLATION!)  But I am saying that if you take your world view from the evening news, you’re doomed to viewing the glass as half full.   Look at the media reporting of Black Friday sales.  Remember – good news doesn’t sell newspapers which is the reason for the need to “spin” coverage.  For example , Reuters reports Music retailers report bleak sales on Black Friday. See the spin?   “Oh, doom and gloom!  Music retailers can’t sell music on CDs.”  (Maybe that has more to do with selling music via downloads than the economy.)   Meanwhile PC Mag reports ‘Black Friday’ Pretty Rosy for Retailers. Same day, different report, different spin.  See, PC Mag isn’t trying to sell papers – Reuters is!

Meanwhile,  on the web Carrie Hall reports that Search Advertising is Strong in this “Adverse Economy”. Gee – if this is the beginning of another Great Depression – why is spending increasing on search advertising?  Either business owners are idiots for spending money to attract business that doesn’t exist – or maybe things are not as bad as you’ve been lead to believe.

For why this gets under my skin, here’s a snippet from a post from my blog promoting my book (Beyond the Niche) on the subject of smart small business marketing strategies

I’ll NEVER forget a conversation I had with a client many years ago -during a previous “economic downturn”.  The day before our monthly meeting, my client had attended a networking function where EVERYONE was “bemoaning” how “terrible” business was for them.  (Of course, few of them were actively measuring their advertising effectiveness.)  My client joined in the bitch session like a good little networking master.

We met the following day and I was greeted with a glum, “I’m sorry – but I’m going to have to cut my advertising budget because of the bad economic conditions.”   I didn’t know what had happened in the networking meeting at the time and I was shocked.  The last I knew, sales were up because of our efforts.

Instead of accepting her decision, I challenged my client.  I asked her to pull out her books and check this year’s sales against last year’s sales.  She did and was STUNNED by what she saw.  Her sales in that month were running a full 20% AHEAD of the previous year.

Yes, that’s right.  My client’s perception was critically altered thanks to the networking event.  She accepted their fate as her own and instead of rejoicing about a 20% increase in sales, she was ready to cut her lifeline to the very key to keeping her business healthy and growing.

Perception is EVERYTHING – in life and in business.

Somehow, the two (life and business) are magically and mystically intertwined. 😉

If you think your business is about to collapse – believe me, even if it’s not – your perception of the “truth” will make it happen!

If you’ve been pink slipped – take this as your opportunity to do it RIGHT in the marketplace!!!

If you were recently fired, I’ll bet you could probably write a BOOK on all the things your previous employer was doing WRONG!  Do you really think you got fired because of the poor economy – or was it because your former employer ran his/her business badly?  (Sure, we should all try new things and do more things badly, but some businesses seem to have that as their business motto!)

If social media is killing traditional media, my response is “good riddance!  Don’t let the media bleating affect your destiny.  If you’re feeling the need to start your own business, now is the time to do so! However, if you think starting your own business means you can sit on your ass and rake in cash – well, that doesn’t happen often in “good” times but it’s even harder to make happen now.

Do you have a way to make something faster, easier, better?    GREAT!!!  Get on it!  Make it happen!

So if you already have a business, start focusing on getting the solutions you offer in front of the people who need and are able to BUY what is is you have to offer!  If you haven’t taken the plunge yet, make certain that  in the business you DO CREATE that what you’re offering something of VALUE to your prospective customers or clients. Then hit the ground running and make it happen!

The future is only as bright as you can envision it will be!

You can’t make money sitting on your ass

If you want to know the secrets to business success – it’s not really a secret.  One of the key factors to business success is follow through!

Follow through as in “you can’t make money just sitting on your ass.”

It’s been estimated that 75% of internet leads are lost because of lack of follow through.  If I had to point to  the single most common reason for marketing failure – it would have to be lack of follow through.

There’s an upcoming movie called Yes Man based on the Danny Wallace book of the same name.  In the book, Wallace describes how he spent six months “saying Yes where once would have said No”. He embarked on this experiment in an effort to make his life more interesting and positive.

It should be noted that when Wallace said, “Yes” in his experiment, he obviously followed through because simply saying yes  won’t change your life.

Saying “Yes” is one thing, PERFORMING the action of “Yes”  is another!

Jim Carey stars in the movie version and it’s being marketed as a “comedy”.  Obviously there are zany consequences to saying yes to everything that comes your way! If I were actively pimping the movie, I’d include a video trailer here.

When opportunity comes knocking – it’s one thing to say “YES” – it’s another to follow through and not only open the door, but walk through it!

There’s a saying that goes along the lines of, “If you want something done – give the task to a busy man.”  I frequently think of this quote when I ask for information from someone and they never get back to me because more often than not, it’s the people who aren’t DOING anything who don’t get back to me.

For example,  I remember when I was composing a newsletter and the natural “call to action for the article was to offer more information.  The problem was while the newsletter was VERY relevant to what was showing up in my practice at the time, I had neither the desire nor the resources to fill this need for my clients and/or newsletter subscribers.   Fortunately, I had recently been introduced to someone who claimed that this area WAS his area of expertise and it was somewhere he wanted to dedicate his time and energy.

So – I wanted to offer my readers access to a resource and I had recently been introduce to someone who wanted to offer these services.  (In case you didn’t know – this is one of my FAVORITE things in life.  I just ADORE introducing people who need each others services.)

So,  I contacted this fellow and asked if he had a free e book or white paper which I could offer my newsletter readers to close the issue.  He replied that he didn’t have anything prepared, but he’d get something to me in a few days.

At that moment, I was feeling REALLY good about my place in the universe.  Talk about “flow”.   I mean, not only am I about to connect my readers with someone who can really solve their problems, but I’ve also helped put a fledgling service provider on the right “marketing” track as well.  Since this guy was just starting out, I gave him some slack on not having this piece prepared.

If you’re going to be selling your services (a.ka. nothing but air), part of your marketing strategy must be to have some sort of “virtual brochure”.  There’s nothing better way than to start establishing trust with your potential clients  than a white paper on “10 Things you must know about [insert service provided here].”   Such a resource is literally a must have resource as part of your marketing strategy!

I made the request for that white paper over a year ago and I’m still waiting.  Don’t get me wrong,  I’m not upset.  On the contrary, I feel like I dodged a bullet.  I mean, the last thing I want to do is to introduce people to a flake who can’t or won’t follow through.

Unfortunately, this post wasn’t inspired by a year old event.  It was inspired by deja vu all over again kind of thing that just happened.  Maybe December is just a bad month to try to get anything DONE!

Follow through is one of the key factors in business success.

Follow through is more precious than gold.  Follow through is more precious than any gemstone.   Sometimes follow through is called by another name “persistence”.

I guess that’s yet another reason why a blog is a GREAT internet presence to judge someone’s”follow through” factor.  What better way to observe someone’s “follow through” and vision than through a blog.  I mean, it takes a certain level of dedication to commit to a blogging schedule and stick to it.   It’s one thing to have a business vision – it’s another to follow through and make it a reality.

If you want to know the secret to success – you should know it’s not a big secret -it’s follow through.

Thomas Edison is credited with saying, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

When opportunity knocks, get off your ass and answer the door.  Oh – and if opportunity isn’t knocking – get off your ass and start knocking on some doors!!!  Once someone answers – FOLLOW THROUGH!!!

Shedding Light into the Darkest Corners of the Web

If you tell lies about a product, you will be found out – either by the Government, which will prosecute you, or by the consumer, who will punish you by not buying your product a second time.

David M Ogilvy

If there’s one HUGE disadvantage to doing business on the web it’s that it is REALLY easy for people to be – well, let’s say “less than authentic”.

Unfortunately, it’s very, very easy for those who are NOT “web savvy” to be taken in by someone who “baffles them with BS!”

A few weeks ago, I was “virtually introduced” to a small business web marketing consultant and SEO “expert”   During the initial introduction, this small business web marketing consultant and SEO expert shared that she wanted to talk to me because she would like to enter into the dazzling and exciting world of blogging.

This statement is causing red flags are going up ALL OVER the place for me.

A small business web marketing consultant and SEO expert needs MY SERVICES to set up a blog?!?!?!?

No, no, no.  My clients are people who use Hotmail and AOL because they can’t figure out how to set up Outlook Express.    My clients want an easy to use and effective internet presence because if it’s not easy, they can’t use it.   A few of my clients don’t know the difference between an email address and a URL -yet they’re successfully blogging – blogs rock! My clients are the reason I wrote my 8 Week Power Blog Launch course… because once they “mastered” the mechanics of blogging, they didn’t know what to do next.

One thing is certain, my clients usually do not proclaim that they are small business web marketing experts  OR experts in SEO!

One of the things I share in the course are the “secret authenticity discovery tools” available for free  which allow you to see exactly HOW much someone who claims to know SEO really knows.   I mean, if you claim to be a nutrition expert, then I don’t expect you to have a six digit or less Alexa ranking, but if you’ve written books on SEO and claim to be an expert, I really expect to see better than a 4.6 Million Alexa rank.

Yet again, another reason I LOVE blogs!!! 

Blogs can act as a great “authenticity” meter.

Since the small business web marketing consultant and SEO expert doesn’t have a blog, all you can do when you get to her website is to read the three articles on her website or buy a copy of her book.  Did she write the articles?  Who knows – she doesn’t write regularly enough to see if she wrote that copy or if she stole it from someone else.

Did she even  write a book?   (There’s no link to purchase it on her website – but she references it frequently in her email to me.)   Again,  I have no idea, but one has to wonder how “authentic” her expertise on SEO is with an Alexa ranking of 4.6 Million.

There are plenty of people who hire others to write for them.  There’s nothing wrong with this practice – unless you’re hiring someone to demonstrate expertise that you in fact do not possess.

As I was publishing my book I discovered someone was doing just that with articles I had written and published on my old static website.   Turns out a web development firm in New Zealand that had copied every single word of my old HTML static website and published it as their own work.  After I got over the shock, I had to laugh.  The secret spy tools told the whole story.  Let’s just say it was obvious that GOOGLE was giving me credit as the original author of the content.

Here’s the deal – you can hire the “published author, small business web marketing consultant and SEO expert” I recently met who has an Alexa ranking of 4.6 Million to act as your virtual mentor.  You can go to her website, read a few articles and if you want, call her to set up an appointment.  (Oh, good luck with that – you have to schedule an appointment with her VA to talk to her – her time is VERY valuable!)

OR you can have Naomi Dunford of the blog IttyBiz with an Alexa Ranking in the  100K range give you advice on building your online business and SEO.  I’ve never tried to call Naomi but she responds very quickly to email – unlike the “expert” above!

The kicker – you can access Naomi’s “wisdom” by picking up a copy of her SEO Ninja course OR you can pay 10 times that price to book an hour of the SEO pretender’s time.

TRUST -TRUST-TRUST-TRUST-TRUST!

If you get the feeling I don’t “trust” this new contact – you’d be correct!   Oh, and if you get the feeling that I do trust Naomi – well, you’d be right on the money again.

I trust Naomi because of MONTHS of reading her regular blog posts – post I miss now that she’s gone “big time”.

I’ll bet there are people you trust because you’re a regular reader of their blog as well.

Which is why, if you’re selling your expertise and you don’t have a blog – you need one.  There’s no better way to demonstrate your expertise.