For a growing pest control business, finding the time to fit training and recertification classes into the schedule can be a challenge under normal circumstances. Add a global pandemic that has technicians not coming into the office regularly and traditional in-person recertification classes cancelled, and you have a conundrum.
Fortunately, Lauren Thrasher, president of Thrasher Termite & Pest Control of So Cal, in San Diego, was already immersing herself in researching how to incorporate learning management software into the training mix for the company’s 30-plus employees.
“We had been using the online training that is available through Veseris’ ProTraining platform to make it easier for our technicians to earn CEUs,” says Thrasher. “It was convenient before but even more so with the current situation.”
The online training that many suppliers, associations and industry groups now offer helps Thrasher supplement and build on the company’s internal training efforts.
The family-owned company, which services all of San Diego County, had a basic onboarding program and traditional in-person meetings to review new information on pest ID, application techniques or labels. With the online training resources that are now available, the company can offer its technicians more opportunities to develop their skills.
Thrasher says she appreciates the soft skill courses focused on leadership skill development or how to interact with customers more effectively. She sees these skills as valuable to technicians as their technical competence.
“It’s incredible what’s available online and how it fits into what we want to accomplish long term with our technician training and development plans,” adds Thrasher.
She says the company’s technicians appreciate having access to information that introduces new concepts but serve as a refresher on a certain application technique or piece of equipment they haven’t used in a while.
During the COVID-19 crisis Thrasher and her husband, Garrett, have used Microsoft Teams to stay in touch with employees and they plan on continuing to use technology going forward.
“We definitely plan on using technology to facilitate how we share information,” says Thrasher. “It offers a lot more flexibility to connect everyone.”
Online training isn’t something Thrasher sees as being limited to employees. One area the company is exploring is sharing online bed bug or fumigation pre-service checklist videos with customers. This information is usually sent via mail or email but with the rise in the “click and play” habits of consumers, short videos may be an effective way to communicate this important information.
Thrasher herself has seen the value in online training during the pandemic. She participated in numerous webinars that were focused on how to steer the business through the crisis.
“It started out as looking for information on how to keep the business going in case we couldn’t get out and service customers,” says Thrasher. “Once we found out we could have our techs out there, it morphed into me diving deeper in leadership and management topics to help drive the business.”
Thrasher says she feels strongly that more knowledge is power, and that online training can deliver for both technicians and management.
“Active and engaged learning is our goal and we plan on continuing to find ways to further our efforts through online training,” says Thrasher. “It will not only be good for the growth of the business but more importantly for our employees.”