Today is Earth Day!Â
As PCOâ€™s, letâ€™s issue a public decree this Earth Day:Â
Pest control professionals nationwide, make a pledge to join the hundreds of other PCOâ€™s and go paperless!Â
A Plea For Paperless Pest Control
A single pest control technician can use upwards of 10,000 pieces of paper each year. With the average tree only producing 16.7 reams of paper, each pest control technician is responsible for using 1.2 trees a year just to do their job. With the number of pest professionals worldwide, that equates to some 178 million trees that are no longer part of our ecosystem.Â
Of U.S. manufacturing, paper production is the second largest user of energy and water; and third largest contributor to pollution. As a country, and as pest control professionals, we can help to change this.Â
Pest control professionals nationwide, letâ€™s make a pledge to join the hundreds of other PCOâ€™s by going paperless!Â
As a way to go green, save on costs, promote professionalism, and increase efficiencies; many pest control companies are trying to go paperless. Some have made the jump. Others are reluctant, or simply cannot because of roadblocks set by state legislature.Â
One major barrier to paperless pest control is that certain states mandate PCOâ€™s keep hard copies of records and reports. Other states say you must simply be able to provide these records if and when they are needed. What will it take to update outdated state laws nationwide, so that all pest control companies can go paperless?Â
With the progression of technology, and efforts on Capitol Hill, a paperless scenario is looking more and more like a reality.
Paperless Reporting: NPMA Legislative Day 2013
With the advances of technology today, many pest control companies have gone, or are trying to go paperless. Unfortunately, PCOs have run into a major hurdle. Some states require pest control operators keep hard copies of pesticide records, use reports, and consumer info sheetsâ€”Even if a company has invested a large amount of money to go paperless.Â
Pest management operators lobbied Congress last month at NMPAâ€™s Legislative Day. Their plea for was for federal lawmakers to allow, not mandate, nationwide paperless pest control. Pest control operators hope this new legislation will give PCOâ€™s the ability to keep records and reports digitally. Since each stateâ€™s laws are different regarding these records and reports, the issue needs to be dealt with on the Federal level.Â
Pest management professionals argue that many of these state mandates were written in the 1970s and 1980s before people could imagine todayâ€™s technology.
Keeping Treatment Records: Government Roadblocks
All states in the US require pest control companies to keep treatment records. These records typically include: properties treated, pests treated on the property, applicator’s license number and the pesticide(s) used. Depending on the state and the pest treated, treatment records must be kept for at least 2-5 years.Â
Many states are quickly coming around and accepting electronic submissions for these reports and a few progressive states are pushing forward for the complete digitization of invoicing and work orders. Most states, even if they allow a large portion of your records to be digital will still want a paper copy left at the customers location.Â
Some stateâ€™s laws simply say that a company must provide treatment records. This means a pest control company can store these records electronically, and then print them off when needed. Other states require pest control companies to keep hard or paper copies of treatment records.Â
As a PCO, work with your state and see if we can push these boundaries. Laws most likely state that a pest control company must provide a treatment record. Donâ€™t just assume that you need to keep hard copies. Ask if you can keep digital copies, and print of these records when needed.Â
If not, pressure your state government to update these laws to better match todayâ€™s technology.
A Few Benefits Of Going Paperless
The benefits of going paperless are almost too many to count. Here are a few highlights:Â
Increase Efficienciesâ€”Going paperless not only saves a lot of time, but can also improve efficiencies. Time savings come from reducing the redundancy of work, meaning only doing something once. At first, a few minutes a day may seem trivial, but look at the actual data. In a pest control office with 5,000 active quarterly customers, nearly 8000 minutes can be saved each day across the company. Over the course of a year, thatâ€™s almost 50,000 hours!Â
Save On Costsâ€”Studies show, reducing paper by 60 percent results in an average savings per employee of $360. You also eliminate the costs of storing treatment records. The time savings and improved efficiencies alone can save a pest control company hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, depending on your techs hourly wage.Â
Organizationâ€”Paperless efforts help to reduce office clutter in your office. Itâ€™s a lot easier to find a record with the click of a mouse, versus digging through boxes or filing cabinets of paper.Â
Promotes Professionalismâ€”The appearance of using up-to-date technologies, like those needed for paperless pest control, gives customers the perception that your up-to-date on all of the latest pesticides and pest control techniques. Itâ€™s good business!Â
Helps Save Planetâ€”Reducing the use of paper by 60 percent eliminates 200 pounds of greenhouse gas annually. Like I mentioned before, one tech going paperless can save one tree a year.
Bulwark Exterminating has made many efforts to go paperless over the past few years. Faxes sent to the company are no longer printed out, but go straight to email. Bulwarkâ€™s service tickets are also emailed to customers. Customers have the ability to access their invoices electronically, as they are now emailed directly to them; saving even more paper. Additionally, sales contracts can now be completed electronically.Â
One of the most significant advancements for Bulwarkâ€™s paperless pest control efforts has been the companyâ€™s ability to carry out paperless routing. Bulwark Pest Controlâ€™s new propriety software uses smart phone technology to aid in service routing and customer satisfaction. This software has been implemented in all 12 of Bulwarkâ€™s branches.Â
Each morning, technicians receive an email on their smart phones. With these emails, technicians are able to access their routes, customer contact information and custom service notes for each customers. This eliminates the need to receive their daily routes via fax or personally stop at the office before work to print off and collect unnecessary paperwork.Â
With these combined efforts, Bulwark Exterminating has been able to successfully eliminate over 60,000 sheets of paper a month! Read more about these efforts, here.
Make Paperless Pest Control A Reality
Most pest control businesses have already deployed the majority of the infrastructure required to enable convenient electronic access, and a small investment will provide wireless and remote access.Â
The first step is to provide convenient electronic access to pest control documents, from anywhere at any time. Additionally, the use of paper needs to be made inconvenient. It is critical to do both. If paper use is made inconvenient without offering a great alternative, there will be loud complaints by employees and technicians within the company.Â
After all these years, and with the increase in technological advances, paperless pest control is almost within reach. Letâ€™s continue to work together and make it happen!
Spread the word for paperless pest control!