Drive change – it’s your friend

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Change was one of the dominant themes at PestWorld 2016. The new chief executive officer for event organisers, the US National Pest Management Association (NPMA), was herself an embodiment of change and a precursor of change to come within the association.
Change in the way customers choose their pest professionals was also very evident within the exhibition hall whilst Robbie Bach, the man who was responsible for the Microsoft Xbox, encouraged pest professionals to drive change within their own businesses.

No industry will be the same in five years
Robbie Bach, the keynote speaker on Thursday 20 October, certainly made his audience think about change. He maintained that no industry will be the same in five years time and that it will be those who find new ways of delivering great customer service who will not only drive change within their sector but will also benefit from change. “Just because you do the basics of your business well does not secure your future,” he said. “Learn how to drive change – it’s your friend.”

As examples he quoted what Uber has done to the taxi business and what Airbnb has done to the holiday rental market. Both have improved the customer’s experience and made a large dent in the traditional taxi and rental markets. But managing change isn’t easy as his experience in introducing the Microsoft Xbox had taught him. The first version of Xbox was something of a disaster. Despite gaining a decent market share in the US and Western Europe the project lost somewhere between $5 and $7 billion in the first four years. “In any normal environment I should have been fired,” he said. “But that wasn’t how Microsoft viewed it. The reaction was we’ve learned a lot now how can we fix it?”

Robbie Bach 2  Robbie Bach’s message was to embrace change – its your friend

The three Ps – Purpose, Principles and Priorities
Robbie identified the problem which was that there was no strategy and he and the management team set about writing one. It had to be no more than three pages long covering Purpose – what are we trying to do, Principles – how we work together and Priorities – what’s really important for the next 12 months. This approach works for all industries but the key is not to have so many principles and priorities that people can’t cope. Five of each is the maximum. Following the 3Ps turned the second version of Xbox into a global success.

A first for Dominique
This was far from the first PestWorld event for NPMA‘s Dominique Stumpf. Dominique has been with NPMA for more than 19 years but, it was her first as the association’s chief executive officer and she is also the first woman to hold this key position.

Welcoming delegates to the world’s largest gathering of pest professionals Dominque explained how, since her appointment in February, she had been in listening mode, finding out how to serve NPMA members better. She started by listing some numbers. It had been 210 days since her appointment during which time she has visited:
• 4 countries and 20 States
• Spent 218 hours on planes trains and in cars
• Had 71 days out
• Met 1,967 wonderful association members

Dominique StumfpNPMA’s chief executive officer –  Dominique Stumpf

She highlighted the many outside influences impacting on the industry – scientific advances, legislation and changes in customer demographics. To address these issues NPMA has held a strategic planning meeting bringing together 100 industry leaders to review the association’s mission, values and strategic direction. The end result is new ambitious vision statement: “Every household and every business will use professional pest management services.”

The NPMA’s public health leadership role has been tested and strengthened in recent months by the devastating Zika virus. Indeed, in the week after the event, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Thomas Frieden, delivered a grim assessment of the government’s ability to contain Zika, saying it’s too late to stop the dangerous virus from spreading throughout the United States: “Zika and other diseases spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito are really not controllable with current technologies. We will see this become endemic in the hemisphere.”

The 80/20 rule
Further examples of change within NPMA were highlighted by the Association’s new president, Chuck Tindle in his presentation on Wednesday morning 19 October. Chuck pointed out a fact which is probably true of all pest management associations around the world. The top few (in NMPA’s case the top 100) pest management companies produce 80% of the revenue, but they only represent 2% of the membership and 100% of the membership deserves representation. That’s something the NMPA is now striving to achieve.

One topic which repeatedly cropped up was the ever increasing size of the Rentokil North American operation. With several acquisitions already completed in 2016, rumour had it that more were on the way. How true. As it was anounced after the closure of PestWorld that California-based Isotech Pest Management had just been brought into the Rentokil fold. More will undoubtedly follow.

Is there a Presidential election?
Of course, change is also in the offing for the USA as a whole. With the country due to elect a new President on 8 November we fully expected the Trump – Clinton battle to be on everyone’s lips at the event. But it most definitely wasn’t. Indeed the only comments we got were when we raised the topic ourselves and they can be summed up as embarrassment that the USA democratic system has managed to come up with two such dreadful candidates!

However strolling through Seattle on the Tuesday morning before the grand opening at 14.00 we came across a demonstration of women who had clear views on which candidate they thought was the worst!

Chris Ives Past President And New President Chuck TindleAll change at the top of NPMA. Chris Ives (left) past president hands over the gavel to incoming president. Chuck Tindle

ProtestersCertainly not part of PestWorld! But the USA itself is undergoing change. These protesters were making their views of Donald Trump quite clear

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