“Um” Is Not A Word

I hope you’ve been enjoying my articles in Pest Management Professional magazine. This time I decided to write about a problem in the industry that no one talks about: inadequate writing skills and a lack of respect for written language. This industry plague results in poorly trained technicians, inadequate policy and procedure to guide a company, unhappy customers who don’t know what they are getting for their money and ultimately, lots of unnecessary lawsuits due to miscommunication.

When I first entered the industry with the purchase of Hearts Pest Management, I was working with the former owner on some very large contracts. We were doing very high-end rodent jobs well into the four figures. The former owner would come back to the office waving a winning bid for “Rat trapping and cleanout.” That’s it! Ok, fine and dandy… until the customer had a complaint that the job wasn’t done according to specs. I’d pull my hair out trying to figure out what was promised. Of course, the customer is always right. The only time they are not is when there is a clear written agreement to the contrary. We need to get serious about writing good contracts that create a sound working relationship between our companies and our customers.

Please review my article (oops, found a typo), entitled, “Um” Is Not A Word. Please come back and add your comments. I hope to get a bit more action in the comments than we have recieved. Don’t be bashful!

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9 Responses to “Um” Is Not A Word

  1. Rose Weitz says:

    I enjoyed reading this blog note. Definnitely an important point. I wish my students would proofread and think through what they are writing too!

  2. I don’t give a damn for a man that can only spell a word one way. ~Mark Twain

  3. David-Joshua's Pest says:

    So true, we often create our own problems with this type of business practices. We set expectations that we cannot deliver, believing that this is good business. Clean, clear and detailed written contracts and proper training is the answer. I really enjoy your blog. Thanks

  4. Gerry says:

    David, thank you very much for contributing to this blog. It’s a pleasure to have this means of communication with you and others. There are some managers on the same page with the need for solid written communications. I think you’ll agree that there are three groups of PCOs: 1) the ones who set written standards, 2) the ones that are so far behind that they prefer not to give a hoot until they come under regulatory scrutiny and 3) the ones who would be happy to have a couch or trainer to help them do the right thing for their company.



  5. Gerry says:

    Hi Rose,

    Thanks for taking an interest in the blog. I’m glad I was able to create an article with some relevance outside the field of pest control. Perhaps you can use the example with your students as proof that no matter where their careers take them, writing skills are extremely valuable.

    Love, your little brother,


  6. thos003 says:

    As always, its a pleasure reading your blog posts. Funny, after reading your post I reflected upon my own short comings when it comes to writting, …lack of proofing. I often find mistakes that I make simply in haste and not re-reading my posts.

    Good communication in all forms is power.

  7. thos003 says:

    And look I even made a typo in that post due to haste… writting… versus writing. Yikes!

  8. thos003 says:

    …Makes me want to go back and double check all the pest control stories we had submitted by our techs.

  9. Gerry says:

    Hi Thomas,

    You gave me a great laugh with your post. I was wondering how fast you would react to “the writting incident.”

    Thanks for making my day with enjoyable post replies.

    Best regards from the very rainy west coast.


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