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Paul Sugrue, Nozzle Nolen technical director

“White Glove” Fumigation Service Is All About the Customer

When the Nozzle Nolen fumigator crew shows up at a job site, it’s no surprise that food hasn’t been bagged, brush trimmed or other preparation work started. That’s because it’s the fumigation crew’s job to handle all that. And the crew is fine with that. Preparation is a standard part of the company’s White Glove fumigation service. So is arranging to have the natural gas turned off, offering to make hotel arrangements or hire security if that is what the customer wants. In short, the White Glove service is all about the customer and that means doing whatever is necessary to make the fumigation as painless as possible, says Paul Sugrue, technical director.

“We launched our White Glove service about 18 months ago,” Sugrue says. “It’s a higher level of service that some customers want, especially owners of high-end properties. It’s grown steadily and now is about 5% of our fumigation work.”

Nozzle Nolen’s full-time termite department handles all White Glove fumigations. The crew shows up the day before or the day of the fumigation. Wearing foot covers inside the home, they bag food and make other preparations, often with the salesperson on site to help. Keys are kept in lock boxes on site and never taken off the property. All fumigations are monitored. When the home is cleared, the team un-bags the food, puts it away and does whatever cleaning is necessary. The salesperson or the supervisor, who is a licensed fumigator, then contacts the owner, or in the case of snow birds the property manager, to give them back the keys.

“We want the house to look exactly as it did when the owners gave us the keys, except that the termites are gone,” Sugrue says.

“The focus of White Glove fumigations is quality rather than quantity and the service is not just about a higher price, Sugrue adds. White Glove fumigations are for single-story homes that do not require scaffolding and are 100,000 cubes or less. Larger homes can be done using a tape and seal method because many higher end Florida homes have hurricane windows that seal well. “In the past five years we’ve seen tape and seal take off in general. We take readings and see that it seals well. Our wholesale fumigators also are using tape and seal more often,”Sugrue says.

Sugrue says bringing in-house fumigations back was not an idea he embraced right away. Fumigation has always been a core service of Nozzle Nolen, but the company moved to having wholesalers handle fumigations years ago for good business reasons. One reason is that the fumigation market in south Florida gets very busy during summer months, which makes it a challenge to find seasonal help. And wholesaling fumigations to quality fumigators has worked well for Nozzle Nolen and its customers.

“Creating a White Glove service was suggested by Mark Carran, general manager of Nozzle Nolen,” Sugrue says. “I was a little reluctant about the idea, but Mickey Nolen, the company president, Mark and I discussed all aspects of this. I was convinced it was a good idea once Mark assured me that White Glove fumigations would be a limited and specialized service.”

With a focus on quality and not quantity, White Glove fumigations must be approved by the termite department. The company also invested in quality equipment, including heavier quality tarps and the best fans. Even different uniforms are worn while the termite technicians are doing a fumigation job.

Having termite technicians handle fumigations in addition to their subterranean termites works well as they deal with drywood and subterranean termite infestations.

“The south Florida climate makes it kind of ground central for invasive species,” he says. “Formosans have become so prevalent that native subs have almost disappeared. And now we also have Coptotermes gestroi — Asian termites. They are worse than Formosans because they are even more aggressive. Asians hollow out trees, and while the tree is not dead yet, there is concern that the next hurricane will take down weakened trees.

“With Asians, you have to be on your ‘A’ game and fumigation falls into that for aerial colonies. We inspect trees on a property because Asians will have their main colony outside in trees, not in the house. And they swarm outside in trees. With Asians we won’t do an in-ground treatment alone.”

For the termite department, the White Glove fumigation service was a natural addition as Sugrue, and others have fumigation licenses. In addition, all supervisors and termite technicians complete training at the Florida School of Fumigation.

“Really, the only internal hesitancy about starting up the White Glove service was by sales and that’s understandable because they had to go out and sell a higher-priced service. Frankly, the service looked like it was going to take off like a herd of turtles, but then sales saw how pleased our White Glove customers were. Now they sell it with confidence.”

A focus on customer satisfaction is not limited to the White Glove service, Sugrue says. For example, handling preparation for a fumigation has always been an option even with fumigations handled by wholesalers. The difference with White Glove is that high-touch service is standard, not optional.

Sugrue emphasizes that Nozzle Nolen is aggressive about customer satisfaction with its website boasting a 4.9 customer rating on a 5-point scale. That rating is earned by sending out surveys and making phone calls to ask if expectations have been met and asking what else could be done. The company’s call center is staffed by a supervisor and six full-time associates. All supervisors and managers are empowered to make decisions on the spot to remedy any customer concerns or complaints.

“We are truly customer-service oriented,” Sugrue says. “We are genuinely concerned that they are happy with us, and if we are deficient in any manner, we will make it up. That can be sending them a bouquet of flowers or whatever it takes to make it right.

“I manage our wholesaler fumigators and we handle any complaint immediately. If there is a broken awning, a bent gutter or a damaged antenna, we don’t go to the fumigator about it. And we don’t tell the customer that we warned you and you signed off on it. We fix it. That is the same whether the fumigation was White Glove or not.”

The Nozzle Nolen White Glove fumigation crew includes (left to right): Matt Williams, Special ID Holder; Manny Joseph, special ID holder; Nate Lee, termite technician; and Kevin O’Neil, certified operator in charge.