New Year is a good time to reflect on the old and consider the new. Certainly, when I look back on 2020 it is with mixed feelings because it has been impossible to escape (literally) the impact of COVID-19. I like to remain positive but even I, at times, found it hard to stay upbeat as the world I knew was contracting. Of course, that doesn’t mean the year was a complete washout and it had some real positives.
So, what has such a challenging year taught me?
Lockdown 1, at the end of March, was a shock to everyone. It could easily have been a time for panic but, if I’m honest, what I remember most was just having to stay focused on how we were going to keep the business operating – office staff working from home, staff being furloughed and everyone coming to terms with a new way of life.
One thing I could focus on was the British Pest Control Association (BPCA)‘s campaign to get pest control technicians classed as key workers. It seemed to me inconceivable that such an important role could be overlooked. It makes no sense to protect people from COVID-19, only for them to then get leptospirosis, toxoplasmosis, histoplasmosis, or any of the other nasty diseases that can be spread by common pests. Luckily, the Government soon saw sense and pest control technicians were classed as essential workers.
As lockdown continued, we found our business had to adapt to the different requirements of our customers. It was noticeable that there were increased reports of rats. As a company, we experienced a 20% increase in callouts for rats. This trend was seen across the country, as our deserted streets, buildings, and back alleys became the hunting grounds for rats who were more used to feasting on the rubbish we readily leave all over the place, but which had disappeared because we were all at home. Learn more.
At the same time, other areas of the business were contracting simply because the companies we work with were no longer operating day to day. In response, we grabbed opportunities where we could find them. For example, we’ve been offering services to control bird pests for several years but, in 2020, we found this was an area of the business that had plenty of opportunity for growth. Whether it was protecting solar panels on the roof of a supermarket or moving along roosting pigeons in a London housing estate, our technicians had the correct method of bird control.
A key advantage of these services as that they could be done safely, without the risk of spreading COVID-19, as our technicians were outside and could easily socially distance. Although we weren’t outside, the same could also be said of a particularly difficult job in Reading where we removed eleven years of pigeon guano from an abandoned office block. In total, we removed 9.5 tonnes of guano and rubbish from the site by hand! Learn more. Of course, because our technicians were already wearing PPE to protect themselves from the nasty diseases in pigeon waste, they were also protected from COVID-19.
These are just some of the things we, as a business, have completed over the last twelve months. I suppose, as the Managing Director of this business, I’ve learnt, or had reinforced in me, a few very important lessons.
- Stronger together – when we worked with the BPCA to help them to get the Government to recategorise pest control technicians as key workers, our goal was achieved quickly because we were united
- Expect the unexpected – it is easy to get your business into a rhythm where you think next year is going to be like the last year, but hopefully a bit more so. In January, if you had asked me what I expected from 2020, I probably would have talked about growth and continuity. Well, those things remain important for the business, but it has been a time when we have been able to show our adaptability. All those years of implementing the ISO 9001 accredited quality management system have paid dividends as we had the ability to effectively manage the challenges as we faced them
- In hardship is opportunity – 2020 was a long way from easy but because we continued to focus on the core philosophies of the business – great customer service, competitive pricing, professionalism, etc. – we were able to find different areas in which the business could expand
At the start of 2020, we had plenty of plans for how the year was going to develop. In some ways, those plans have just been put back slightly. We are now beginning the rebrand of Bristol’s Good Riddance Pest Control into Cleankill and we are also continuing our expansion plans, but more of that in due course.
So, as we reach the end of Dry January, I will raise a glass to 2021 and the opportunities it affords us.
If you have a pest problem, contact us on 020 8668 5477 or click here.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay