This post goes out to the hardw0rking wildlife control operators (WCO) who have entered the digital age. While many of you prefer sloshing through a beaver pond to staring at a computer screen, I want to commend you for getting out of your comfort zone and embracing technology. Unfortunately, with every technological advance there are negative side effects.
Failure to Respond to E-mails
Wildlife control is a time intensive business. Unlike pest control, many activities in wildlife control can’t rely on toxicants which kill the animal and allow it to die out of site. Return visits and extended stops at customer locations are the norm, not the exception for wildlife control. Frequently, 12 hour days reach 15 and there is simply no time to boot up the computer, let alone answer e-mail.
If this sort of time constraint affects your business from time to time, then relax it’s normal. it is acceptable to wait a couple of days to respond to e-mails. After all, if the customer really needs you, he/she should call your cell phone.
If you know that you will be out straight or on vacation for several days, then it is absolutely necessary to let your customers know that you are unavailable. An auto-responder e-mail, is acceptable provided it explains when you might be able to respond. I would also place a notice of your situation on the contact page of your site.
Otherwise, if you have regular difficulty responding to e-mails, do yourself a favor, don’t make it available.
In addition, if people e-mail you, get the auto-respond message, wait a few days and still don’t hear from you, then your business is losing credibility. I bring this issue up because I know of a company that I have e-mailed from time to time in regards to a project and I regularly get the auto-responder blithely telling me how my e-mail is important and he will get back in touch. I would have thought the e-mail was great if the person really followed up in a couple of days. But I have waited weeks, even following up with phone calls, all to no avail. As they say in Hollywood, when the phone don’t ring you know it was me. Well that is how I feel with this unnamed company.
Bottom Line Business Tip
1. Announce ways for people to get in touch with you that you actually follow up with.
2. E-mail can wait up to 24 hours. If the person really needs you quickly, then he/she could call.
3. Auto-responders only help your business if you actually follow what you say in the auto-response message. Otherwise, they simply annoy your callers.
Stephen M. Vantassel, CWCP, ACP has written dozens of articles on wildlife damage management topics and advises clients on wildlife damage management issues.
This past summer I was interviewed by a writer for Urban Farm magazine. The topic, of course, was strategies to help gardeners in urban areas to protect their crops against wildlife damage. Debbie Moors, the author, gave a lot of ink to my comments. I would like to thank her and Urban Farm magazine (pp.68-73) for the great interview. I hope readers find the information helpful in protecting their harvest from hungry wildlife.
Hats off to the photographer(s). The images in the piece were outstanding. I loved the squirrel.
History on the National Wildlife Control Training Program
For those of you not familiar with this project, let me provide a little background. Regrettably, most states lack even rudimentary training requirements for the licensing of wildlife control operators (WCO). Part of the reason for this situation is the dearth of training materials and the fact that state wildlife agencies, already underfunded and overworked, don’t have the resources to create a program let alone administer it. Our program seeks to correct that. We have created a training program designed to provide beginning WCOs the fundamentals of the trade.
We will provide this training in multiple ways, including print (book forthcoming in January, 2011), online (January 2011) and in person if states desire that. This training will also be open to businesses wishing to train new workers.
Description of the National Wildlife Control Training Program
The training consists of two main parts. First is the core modules. Core modules are what we believe every WCO should know regardless of where they live. It’s written in a manner that makes it suitable for WCOs regardless of their respective state laws.
Part 2 consists of species modules. Each species module will address the biology, damage, and control methods related to that particular species. We anticipate that states or individuals can select which species they want to learn about. This allows individuals to learn about species that they are allowed to control.
The exam at the end will cover the modules that were selected.
In addition, states that wish to work with us, can edit the species modules so that only those techniques permitted in their state are discussed. Biology and range information can also be adjusted to reflect the specific facts in that respective state. These state specific training materials can then be printed and/or provided on-line. States won’t have to bear the costs of hosting or modification of materials as the user can bear the full price. What is that price? We don’t know at the moment because we are still preparing the document for publication. But we anticipate the on-line training (which will have additional training resources than what can be provided by the book) to be less than 200 dollars which will include the cost of the exam. Of course, advanced training modules will be provided in the future. If you are interested in providing advanced training, please contact me. We want to work with you.
Outline of the National Wildlife Control Training Program
Here is an outline of the National Wildlife Control Training Program
Part 1 WCO Core Training Modules
1. Principles of Wildlife Damage Management – Introduction to principles, definition of concepts, best practices concepts,.
2. Physical Safety – The section on physical safety (like ladder safety) and expand on details related to working in the field dealing with animal capture and certain control techniques.
3. Wildlife Diseases – We discuss personal safety, personal protection equipment, common diseases, and the meaning and problems of zoonotic diseases.
4. Site Inspection – The process and theory of on-site investigation of wildlife damage complaints.
5. Overview of wildlife control methods – The overview of control methods prepares technicians for the control techniques they fill find in the species specific information.
6. Animal Handling—Treatment and capture of free-ranging and trapped animals. .
7. Euthanasia & Carcass Disposal—Killing methods and options for the disposition of carcasses.
8. Business Practices – Overview of standard business practices. This is NOT a how to run you business.
9. Legal and Ethical Issues – The importance of following federal, state and local laws. Demonstration of values, business and personal ethics, the ethical treatment of wildlife (animals in general) in the media.
PART 2 Species Modules
Stephen Vantassel, Project Coordinator, CWCP, ACP
Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management
School of Natural Resources
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
414 Hardin Hall
Lincoln, NE 68583-0974 U.S.A.
web site: http://icwdm.org