Northwest Exterminating – Old and in the Way

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Wynd Realty

Northwest Exterminating does a good job treating and controlling termites under their care. 

But, if you are thinking about buying a home in the Atlanta market that is bonded under Northwest Exterminating, you will never know if the house you are considering has ever had termites, where it had them, how many times it had them and to what extent the infestation and damage was.   It naturally makes sense that when shopping for a new home, all things being equal, buyers would more likely purchase the home that didn’t have a tract record of termite infestation over one that does.  But with Northwest, buyers will never been given the option of knowing the facts. 

If you are trying to sell a home in the Atlanta market that is bonded under Northwest Exterminating, you very well may be doing so at a disadvantage.   If the home has had a termite infestation, the homeowner, under Northwest Exterminating, loses control of their home’s sales message.    The homeowner is forced to disclose their knowledge of the termite infestation.  And, since Northwest offers no documentation with termite repair, they leave their customers with virtually no way to defend themselves.   As every southern knows, there is a huge difference between a small termite infestation in the breakfast nook and an infestation that consumes the entire 1st floor.   Under Northwest’s no documentation policy, the homeowner is completely dependent on the buyer’s knowledge of termites.   Try telling a family from Sweden, moving to Atlanta for the first time, to “trust us” when it comes to their termite history.  It isn’t as easy as Northwest would have you think.   

As a matter of fact, if you are selling anything of value that needs care and maintenance, isn’t the seller always benefited with statistical information that helps explain the product’s history?   Used car dealers, not exactly considered bastions of customer service, provide better service repair records than Northwest Exterminating.  They have better service repair records, in large part, because Northwest doesn’t provide any service repair records.   It kind of goes without saying, but if any company is looking up at the used car industry as being an example in customer service, they may want to rethink their position. 

So why doesn’t Northwest offer documentation of their repair work?  It really is hard to say?  According to management at Northwest, the issue of documenting repair; “has simply never come up”.   Actuarial speaking, given Northwest’s 60-odd year history, their rational for not providing repair documentation seems, in the kindest sense, a weak effort to explain a significant customer concern.   

We live in, and have for some time now, a data centric society.  Since the computer era, users have been asking and demanding for more and more data to help them make decisions.  Everything in today’s consumer world relies on data and statistics.  We have become such an information-based culture that we now require Internet access from our watches and eyeglasses because the Internet in our pants pocket is too far away.   Northwest’s claim the issue of documenting repair “has never come up” is in direct conflict with the societal direction of the last two decades and is simply an unbelievable statement. 

Some might conclude Northwest doesn’t publish repair records because they don’t want their customers to know the real truth.  This “mushroom” strategy, of keeping customers in the dark and on a steady diet of BS, may have worked in the 1970s, but it’s woefully out of step with today’s culture.   That said, it’s pretty far-fetched to think that in today’s consumer market any company would still employ this strategy?  The “real” reason why Northwest doesn’t provide repair documentation may never be known, but this we do know: companies that embrace data, win more often than not while companies that suppress data, ALWAYS lose.  

Perhaps Northwest is simply too old, or to be more politically correct, “old school”.   Maybe one reason Northwest never wanted or bothered with repair records was because their focus was solely on what they were killing and not on what they were protecting.  If you are in the bug-killing business, that is what you do, kill bugs.  If you are in the home protection business, you take care of the home, which includes killing bugs as well as documenting every aspect of that home’s repair and preventative history that falls under their responsibility.    It is a not so subtle mindset change the industry has long embraced but Northwest has yet to grasp. 

On a recent termite repair, a long-time customer was told by a Northwest Field Manager; “if you wanted proof of what we did you should have stayed and watched”.   Obviously this Manager, despite what his Mom says, probably isn’t destined to fast-track any management ladders.  But, to this manager’s defense, the company doesn’t have a repair documentation policy and probably gave less than optimal amount of training for the job.  So, what should a customer expect?  If a company can’t put their field managers in a position to win, then they will fail most of the time.   No one should blame the troops for the failings of the generals. 

Termites and dealing with termite companies are a part of homeownership life in the South.  To the consumer, there are dozens of different termite companies all using the same traps, the same poisons, the same schedules and the same frequencies.   And, the great news is, they all kill bugs.  Given enough toxins, man can kill a lower life form.   

Nobody would ever doubt Northwest’s ability to kill bugs.  Do they have the ability to protect your home is the question?  Does their company policy mesh with consumer need?  Clearly, in this case, policy and need are at huge odds with each other.   Why anyone would select Northwest as their termite bonding agent is unclear unless they didn’t know about the documentation policy or lack thereof.   And, by the time they realize they need documentation, it is much too late, and they are locked into Northwest and on their own. 

It is a shame what Northwest is doing to homeowners.  But, it pales in comparison to what they have done to themselves.   Imagine if Northwest had a policy of repair documentation since their inception?   They would have over 60 years of data.   Individual home data could have been compiled as an invaluable informational resource for entire subdivisions and regional areas.  They would have generational-spanning proof of trends in treatment and repair.   In short, they would have owned an unbeatable market position against all competition.   But, from what “could have been”, to the reality of lagging within their own industry, the road ahead for Northwest is the same as it’s always been.  But, maybe this time around, they will start document their journey. 


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