No doubt about it, the pest control technician reeked. I could smell the cigarette smoke half way across the room, and I have a weak sense of smell. I'm reasonably sure he chain smoked whenever he was behind the wheel, with the A/C on and the windows closed. The smell made it hard to be in the same room. I can't imagine it was good for repeat business.

Every now and then I indulge in a cigar (see www.facebook.com/serviceroundtable for a video of a cigar being hand rolled at the Lennox party for the Service Roundtable in Puerto Rico). I enjoy the cigar smoke of a cigar I'm smoking, but not the odor that clings to my clothes afterwards. In the act of smoking the cigar, I'm unaware of any bad odors. The next morning, however, the embedded smoke leaps from the laundry hamper to assault my olfactory senses.

If I can be unaware of the odor when smoking the occasional cigar, I imagine the chain smoking technician is oblivious to his scent. Yet, the smoker who is aware of the smell and who tries to cover it up with excessive amounts of cologne, aftershave, or perfume is far worse. Now, it's not simply cigarette smoke that's a problem, but an array of odors.

It's not only the combination that's a problem. Non-smokers who use excessive cologne, aftershave, deodorant, or perfume can be hurting their business. So can anyone with body odor and/or bad breath.

It seems we're more sensitive to odor than in the past. An MSNBC article quoted Dr. Alan Hirsch, with the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation of Chicago on the subject. According to Dr. Hirsch, "People are no longer being inundated by smoke. They’re aware of the ambient aromas around them and they’re also more sensitized to them."

In other words, as fewer people smoke and even fewer smoke indoors, our awareness of all odors has increased. Moreover, women appear to be more sensitive to odors than men. Since women tend to be the decision maker for the selection of home service companies, this gives the elimination of personal odors greater import.

What do you do? The best solution is to strive to be as scentless as possible. Use scentless deodorant and breath spray, and otherwise strive to be scent free.

Keep extra uniforms on your trucks. If summer perspiration gets excessive, put on the spare shirt.

If you must smoke during the day, do it outside, even in hot or cold weather. Use breath spray afterwards. Also, wash or use hand wipes.

You or your field service personnel may not be aware of, or bothered by odors, but odors are present, it's almost certainly a problem for some of your customers. That's reason enough to take steps to minimize scents.

Matt Michel is the CEO of the Service Roundtable, an Internet based contractor business alliance that’s become a profit center for many members since they receive more in cash rebates for equipment, parts, supplies, software, books, and consulting purchases than they spend on their membership. Learn how much money your business can make by calling 877.262.3341.