Every summer, hundreds of students from all three of the Brigham Young Universities head out to different states to sell products door to door including pest control, security alarms, and DirecTV subscriptions. This summer the Alpha Sky Marketing group, a ten-man team made up primarily of BYU-Hawaii students, stayed on Oahu to sell Pest Control partnered with Terminex.
Team leader Reuben Scalese, a junior from Maryland majoring in business finance, explained, “If it was easy everyone would do it, but the thing is you work three hard months out of the year and then you don’t have to work the rest of the year. You get to focus on school and grades. We do what most people won’t do for a part of the year so we can do what other people can’t do for the rest of it.”
Christian Petersen, a newcomer on the team from Utah, said, “For me, this job makes me more comfortable with face-to-face interaction. So overall talking to people in any other situation I’m more confident because I know I can talk to strangers…” He explained he felt this was important because he believes social media is affecting society’s ability to communicate.
“People don’t have communication skills and so they feel very uncomfortable with face to face interactions,” said Petersen.
Walker said, “There’s a difference between being pushy and making your case. It helps in learning to be able build a convincing argument.”
Scalese admits the job can push some to their limits but said, “It’s fun because you get to learn more about yourself, like who you are.”
“The summer was great,” said Scalese. “We accomplished a lot of our goals and had a great time as a team selling.”
According to Scalese the team sold 1,700 residential Pest Control accounts this summer. Out of the 10 salesmen, seven attend BYUH.
“We're very close to hitting our goal of bringing in $1,000,000 to Terminix this year as a team,” Scalese said.
Connor Lunt, a junior from California majoring in marketing said he did sales with a different team before. In his previous door-to-door experiences, he described his team as “very prideful, and very vain. I didn’t like them. They weren’t very honest people. It’s a lot better group here [in Hawaii].
“The biggest part of sales is having honesty and integrity. We’ve had people not do as well on our team because they don’t have the same standards of integrity and usually they end up quitting after a week or two,” said Scalese. “Sometimes our best credentials – when we’re asking for a credit card number for the contract – is we attend BYU-Hawaii.”
Scalese added, “You actually get to know the island. You get to see all the different cities on Oahu which you probably wouldn’t do as a college student. You get to meet a lot of locals and you actually feel like you blend in.”
Petersen said, “People are very, very friendly here in Hawaii. They are also very open to having visitors come to the door much more so than other places,” He served his mission in Portland, OR where he said people were not as eager to talk to someone at their door.
The team mostly agreed on the work as being difficult, but they each said they felt it was worth the sacrifice in displaying enthusiasm and pride in their profession.
“The greatest sacrifice for me is sacrificing time with the family,” said Lunt. “There are a lot of things we would like to do that we can’t, like go visit the beach. Especially here on the island that can be tough.”
Lunt, who lives in TVA with his wife and daughter, said they are preparing to add another member to the family.
Maresa Lunt, Connor’s wife, added, ““It’s a really good job. With the pregnancy it can be tiring. It’s tough but we are happy for such a good job.”
“This job pays better than any other job you can find,” said Blake Walker, a junior from Utah majoring in business management. “There are days when you sell five and others where you only sell one and it’s just like well dang it, but it still pays way more than any other job you’re going to find in Laie.”
A few team members said they would argue against the difficulty of door-to-door sales – where others might see hard hours and an ethically questionable industry, the team members said they saw the opportunity as a chance to learn valuable skills.
Most of the team lives in Laie and have to deal with their own residences pest issues, which they said has made the fight against bugs a personal experience.
Scalese laughed and said, “We’ve had people show up to meetings talking about the bugs they killed just that morning at their own homes here in TVA and Laie.”
Scalese explained how being able to personally relate to his contacts and future customers helps him in his sales pitch. “Sometimes I don’t even feel like a salesman because everyone has ants and roaches so I feel like I’m just helping people which is nice. When I show up on a door, I ask if they have ants and roaches and 99 percent of the time I know they are going to say yes.”
Walker shared his experience of knocking on a door and talking to an older gentleman who had a good amount of scriptures and Christian symbols on his front porch. Walker said he asked the man about his faith.
With a smile on his face, Walker said, “As soon as he found out I was Mormon he started chuckling and said, ‘Joseph Smith isn’t a God,’… “It reminded me of my mission.”
NOTE: BYU-Hawaii and the Ke Alaka’i do not endorse or promote any summer sales companies or their practices. All opinions expressed in this article are that of those who said them.