By Eddie Wooten
Breanna Neerland has never been afraid of change. This year, she oversaw the migration of her family’s company, Kwik Kill Pest Control, from ServSuite to FieldRoutes software, a ServiceTitan company–just three years after introducing mobile and paperless operations in any form to the company.
The transition to FieldRoutes?
"A cakewalk compared to that," says Neerland, Kwik Kill’s operations manager.
But what, Neerland is asked, kept her up at night as she contemplated FieldRoutes?
"Is it bad to say nothing?" she replies. "I went through the demo process so thoroughly, I didn't feel like there was a whole lot that I was concerned about."
Kwik Kill, opened by her father, Bob, in 1979 in Madison, Wisconsin, had been a ServSuite pest control software customer since 2013, initially using the software solely to house accounts. Now, it is among the more than 400 companies that have made the shift to FieldRoutes–a modern, uncomplicated, stable platform that better fits their needs for an all-in-one solution.
Neerland, who serves in multiple leadership roles in the pest control industry and is among 13 members of the 2023 class of the NPMA’s Executive Leadership Program, signed up to participate in a FieldRoutes demo while at the National Pest Management Association's PestWorld in Boston, in October 2022.
By the end of March 2023, she says, Kwik Kill had completed implementation.
"It was a positive move. I always want to be moving forward with business and operations,” says Neerland, a leader in the pest control industry in not only her home state, Wisconsin, but nationally.
"The biggest thing is just having that open mind, and acknowledging the work and the time and effort that's going to have to go into it, but knowing that the outcome is going to move you forward."
Neerland and Kwik Kill's team of 25 people, including 15 full-time technicians, saw the benefits of FieldRoutes® software immediately, as they moved through the busy season of 2023.
"My technicians love the mobile app," Neerland says. "So much smoother and more streamlined with a lot less redundancy compared to the ServSuite mobile app. It has made the processes a little bit more efficient, and the technicians are more efficient."
Neerland also touts FieldRoutes’ functionality, including the ability to add images to work orders and the customer portal.
"If a technician is at a house and they can't do something for a reason beyond our control–maybe it's too high up or we can't seal that rodent-entry point because it's this big (extending her hands)–they can take that picture and attach it, and then we make a red note on the account," she says. "We see that in the office, and we can go look at it."
Kwik Kill, which had used ServSuite from 2013 to 2020, evolved in 2023 through Neerland's push. She was so confident in a worry-free change of pest control software platforms that she also led integration of a new phone system during the FieldRoutes implementation.
"I’m a younger-minded thinker, and I am in a unique position with our company due to our company size,” Neerland says. “I've been in the service seat: I've been a technician, I've been a CSR, I've worn every single hat, and I know our operations company-wide inside and out.”
That put her in position to make big changes at a company, and in an industry, that didn’t always seem like her destiny.
Getting into the family business–besides her now-retired dad, her mother, Sandy, is office manager, and her brother, Ryan, is president and co-owner–wasn't Breanna Neerland's intent growing up.
She considered herself a "science geek," earned an associate's degree in biotechnology, and worked in an FDA-regulated laboratory. While pursuing a bachelor's degree, still just 24, she burned out in the lab environment.
In 2015, she asked the family if Kwik Kill could make room for her.
"I totally surprised them when I said, 'Hey, I think I want to do this,'" she says.
Neerland, who went to work as a technician, has led change–and simply led–ever since.
"I oversee all of our operations," she says. "While my focus shifts more toward the office team these days, I still oversee our service team and work hand-in-hand with our service manager and training coordinator for the service side. I focus on efficiencies and processes to continue moving the business forward and try to make things as efficient as possible."
Neerland rates the move to mobile and paperless, beginning Jan. 1, 2020—just before the COVID-19 pandemic began—as the company's top achievement under her guidance.
"If we had waited another year, it would've been a disaster," Neerland says. "We were at our limit for being able to continue that. Mobile and paperless, along with multiple software integrations for efficiency between this switch, bringing in (a new phone system), building other business intelligence dashboards, all of that (was needed)."
The adoption of automated marketing notifications also made things easier for Kwik Kill, Neerland says.
"That was hands-down the best move," she says. "We do marketing through automated phone-call notifications (and some via SMS) to let clients know that it's time for their one-time-per-year service. When we were able to start automating those and not spend literally hours with a binder trying to hand-call all these people, that was huge.
"And we used to do a postcard and then manually call them. The return rate when we started doing the automated notifications was almost double what the postcard would bring back.
“The efficiency and the cost-effectiveness of that was the best decision ever."
Sort of like returning to the family business. Neerland now chairs the Wisconsin chapter of the NPMA’s Professional Women in Pest Management, and sits on the board of the Wisconsin Pest Control Association.
That's a full resume for a science geek who didn't intend to join the pest control industry.
"It just captured my heart," Neerland says. "I have such a passion for not only the work and the service that we provide for our clients, but also just the industry as a whole, how inclusive it is, how everybody is so comfortable to have those conversations and help each other.
"In my PWIPM chapter, I'm frequently reaching out to our members if there's an opportunity that might be good for them.
"Leadership starts from the heart. It does. You don't become a good leader without having your heart invested into it and into the people that you're trying to lead and guide to what's best for them."
Whether it's moving from paper to mobile or moving from ServSuite to FieldRoutes, it's clear that Neerland will embrace new and different. So much so that her brother, Ryan, has put her on "change probation" for a year.
Her response? She'll dive more into the pest control industry and–oh, by the way–continue planning for 2024 wedding ceremonies with fiancé Zach Driver in not only Madison but Alaska.
"In life and in business, if you're stuck with what you're doing and you're comfortable with it, but you're not necessarily happy with it, you need to move forward," Neerland says. "You need to find something that's going to bridge those gaps.
"It's going to be scary. It's going to be a lot of work. You're going to have to change your mindset. You're going to have to change your operations and your processes and procedures. That's all what it is.
"But in doing so, you dive into things that you've probably been needing to dive into without doing it. You've been brushing it under the rug. And you're going to find those other gaps and ways to improve the process along the way."
And Neerland and Kwik Kill have found even more ways to improve the process in the move she initiated to FieldRoutes.
"I saw the nice functionalities, interactiveness, all of that FieldRoutes offered," she says. "And I saw that big improvement from one system to the next.
"I wear the weight of that on my shoulders. It's been good."
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