Toilet Paper – Coffee Wars and Pest Control


If you have followed my pest control company, Hearts Pest Management, you already know that I love Starbucks. I based my employee model on Starbucks.

Recently I discovered some of the really nutritious and delicious meals at Jamba Juice in 4S Ranch. So I admit to taking my sandwich over to Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf next door for a latte. Again, despite my claimed loyalty to Starbucks, my wife (to whom I also profess loyalty) loves the Expressos at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. So we sometimes drive over to the “CBTL” in Carmel Mountain, San Diego.

Starbucks knows it’s not about the Coffee. Well, maybe it’s just a little bit about the coffee. But they also understand that it is about the service – about how the coffee is prepared and about everything that happens in a Starbucks store location. Howard Schultz opens his latest book, How Starbucks Fought For Its’ Life Without Losing Its’ Soul with a passage explaining his rationale for a decision to close down all Starbucks retail stores during normal store hours to retrain everyone. It only cost Starbucks several million dollars, so he had some explaining to do, yet that was how important he felt it was to get service right!

Perhaps at CBTL they are forgetting this point. At both the 4S Ranch Coffee Bean and also at the Carmel Mountain store I needed to use the rest room. Let me tell you frankly that there is absolutely nothing more important in any food outlet than the quality of the rest room! Back to back visits to these two Coffee Bean locations I placed a complaint that there was no toilet paper in the restroom. Hand towels were just about overflowing the trash canister. At the first CBTL in 4S Ranch I received the following response: “Sorry, but I can’t get to it now. I have people in line.” But I’m thinking to myself that these people won’t be very happy when they need to use the bathroom. Would they think twice before having even a brief meal at this CBTL? At the second CBTL in Rancho Bernardo I didn’t get the same put off, rather the frustration of an employee who said, “That was supposed to have been done just recently,” obviously upset with a fellow worker who fail at his or her duty.

What does it say about Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf that their employees are missing basic courtesy, respect and compassion for their customers? How can they get it so wrong that the coffee or tea is more important than accommodating their customers basic human hygiene needs? Does the product sale really matter so much as to forget that we have more basic needs? You may think I’m taking the point a bit far, but I have a sense about these things and I am sure that CBTL management is doing something very wrong. Perhaps it is the franchise model that is backfiring on them? There is something not being communicated down the ladder nor reflected back up the chain of command. Or perhaps the top management has lost insight into what truly matters?

The chief goal of any business is to sell a product or service at a profit. Sounds simple, right? Yet the devil is in the process details between supply and delivery. Customer service is that big equation equalizer that comes in between.

What’s our customer service record in the pest control industry?

Would you agree that too often in the pest control industry bodies are placed in trucks with the objective of getting to as many doors as possible in a given day? You’ve seen the results pile sky high in customer complaints and increased regulatory oversight. We hear case after case of houses being quickly treated just to get to the next house or over-treated to compensate for rushing through service delivery.

The pest control industry remains far to focused on the core function of getting bugs killed and far too little on the people being serviced. If we killed every bug on a property, does that alone mean that we accomplished our goal as exterminators? I would hope we are more than just killing machines. I would hope that we have the best interests of our customers in mind. We cannot be only about the short term kill of a pest. We MUST be about the long term care of families, neighborhoods and the environment.

There is a battle raging in the pest control industry for the heart of the profession. In our equivalent of the Starbucks vs. CBTL service battle, there are pest control companies that cannot resist the macho image of killers. They glory in the hunt. At its’ worst, you can see it in their advertising – silly pictures of choking insects and operators with guns. Then there are companies that present a softer, more feminine image within the industry, companies that have to be able to handle pest problems to survive, but that are focused on the holistic needs of people.

Between the time you get the pest control service call and the time you leave your customers’ home, a whole lot happens. I’d bet against any operator who said that most complaints were about the extermination. It’s almost always about some ancillary factor, primarily the representative quality of the pest control technician and customer service representative.

So when you go for your next cup of coffee, think about the service you get and how it compares and contrasts to what you get from a pest control company? How does your company stack up? Has your company forgotten the toilet paper issues?

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One Response to Toilet Paper – Coffee Wars and Pest Control

  1. There comes a time in the life of every man when he will have to learn a skill for no other reason than to please his woman. Learning how to change a roll of toilet paper is one such skill. There are a lot of self-help books about how to keep a woman happy but until you’re an expert it’s more productive to focus on not making them mad. Learning how to change a roll of toilet paper eliminates just one tiny thing that can be a big source of irritation. It’s best to worry about the small things first until you’re more experienced. The learning curve on this is steep, but I’m going to guide you through it and give you the confidence to try it.

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