Hive of activity
By Leslie T. Snadowsky
Palmetto bugs freak people out.
“They are also known as the state bird,” mused Brian DeChirico, the Hilton Head general manager for Hilton Head Exterminators. “Our customers think they are really nasty because these cockroaches grow to be so big, and they can fly.”
DeChirico provides comprehensive pest management services that make insects and vermin drop like flies. This family-owned pest control company has a mission to keep clients with creepy crawlies coming back for more.
“I would say at least once a day a customer will call and speak with someone in the office to tell them we do great work and how positive their interaction was with our employees,” he said. “Everybody’s aware of the challenging times everyone is having with staffing. So when we get that kind of call, we know we are strengthening the core of our business. Without our customers we would just have a bunch of trucks and employees and no work to do. Our customers are at the center of what we do, and our business revolves around happy ones.”
HHE’s trained, certified technicians rid homes and businesses of infestations of ants, bed bugs, fleas and ticks, mosquitos, roaches, rodents, spiders, termites and palmetto bugs. They also are taught the three pillars of HHE’s business model: commitment, reputation and tradition.
“We tell our staff to treat our customers like they would treat their mom and dad and treat customers’ homes like it’s their own,” DeChirico said. “We also tell them to do what you say you’re going to do and show up on time. If you can’t because of traffic, call ahead to say you’re going to be late because our customer’s time is important too. It’s really about doing the right thing.”
DeChirico said HHE managers and supervisors implement quality-control measures, conduct ride-alongs and offer continuing education to their 75 staff members. Having a large staff allows techs to make a beeline to customers’ homes when needed.
“When somebody calls us, and they have a problem, they want it solved right away,” DeChirico said. “Being able to get there quickly, solve the problem efficiently and take care of it during one visit is our goal.”
Because of HHE’s customer-service culture, DeChirico said their antennae are raised when looking for new hires. HHE employees go through an onboarding process where they take a test and learn about all the company’s baits and repellents.
“The label is the law,” DeChirico said. “We are regulated by the Department of Pesticide Regulations. We have to make sure that everyone who is operating any of our vehicles and applying pesticides understands how to use those correctly.”
DeChirico lives in Beaufort County and said when people find out he works at the 55-year-old business, he’s never heard a complaint about their service. Instead, they’re excited to mention who their HHE field tech is and how great they are.
“The best type of business to get is referral business,” he said. “Customers are an extension of your sales team. If they’re happy and they love what you’re doing, they’re going to be your best advocates and champions for not just repeat business but for new. Referrals are the reward for focusing on a quality customer experience.”
Customer service training also extends to the administrative staff that fields customer calls. The busy bees are instructed to ask questions to pinpoint what’s bugging the customers, address their concerns and offer a plan of attack.
DeChirico said Hilton Head is a beautiful place, but it’s filled with pests, and HHE is already getting ready for the next seasonal outbreak.
“From October to March it’s rodent season,” he said. “We see resident rats find ways to enter residents’ homes so they can stay warm during the winter. The rat population here is impressive, to say the least.”