Top five worst bed bug business mistakes


March 1, 2013

1. Failure to change clothes
William Cobb, owner, Dynamic Termite and Pest Control, Garner, N.C., says that the best thing one’s staff can do is follow the cardinal rule: “Always change your clothing when finished.” It’s imperative to follow specific safety protocols for bed bug jobs. “Technicians infesting your office environment is the worst mistake an owner can make,” says Brian Voorhes, president at Air Rite Pest, Kingwood, Texas. In other words, don’t bring work home with you.

2. Failure to follow up
Customer satisfaction is of paramount importance to pest management professionals. Not performing a follow-up inspection or subsequent services after initial treatment can be a pitfall in terms of customer satisfaction. In hotel work, Rick Ellis, vice president of R&D Pest Services, San Diego, Calif., recommends this follow-up practice: “Guard against reports of imaginary bites subsequent to a bed bug job. Use monitoring traps.” The follow up provides the opportunity to assess the progress of the treatment and guard against future infestation.

3. Underpricing a difficult job
As is true with most bid work, it’s important to take all aspects of the job into account when creating a quote. Make sure you can account for all aspects of the job and the steps it will take to successfully eliminate an infestation.

Errol Cohen, director of marketing, Bizzy Bees Pest Control, Carrollton, Texas, knows that treating cluttered spaces can be complicated. “It’s not easy or quick. It’s thorough, exhausting, and time consuming,” Cohen says.

Dayton Hylton, president, Dayton’s Pest Control Services, Knoxville, Tenn., recalls an infested bedroom with a water bed. When bidding the job he did not take into account the complexity of the mattress, which could not be encased, or the inability to use climb-ups for prevention. Time and resources beyond the initial scope of the job were used to treat the infestation.

Take into account the severity of the infestation, the cleanliness of the location, and any unusual attributes of a job before quoting pricing.

4. Relying on customer’s prep-work
Doing prep work correctly provides the basis for a successful solution. Some companies choose to perform their own prep work as a value-added benefit and as a means of ensuring it’s done right. Others leave it to the customer to prepare an infested area for treatment. “Relying upon the customer can provide its own set of challenges,” says Steve Guillen, owner Guillen Pest Solutions, Cary, Ill. “Getting them to discard certain items and remove clutter can be like pulling teeth and when the PMP can’t trust the prep-work, they can’t guarantee results. For companies working on small margins and offering guarantees, successful completion of necessary prep work is integral to success. Take time to help the customer understand the implications of not following the guidelines. Make yourself for questions to reduce the chances of incomplete or unsatisfactory prep.

5. Assuming
Never assume. One can’t treat every infestation the same way.

“Systematically inspect everything,” says Bruce Carter, president, Carter Services, Farmington, N.M. “Start from the outside of the infested room and move toward the inside of the room.”

Assumptions can cause the specific details of an infestation to be overlooked. The only way to ensure success is to perform a thorough investigation and interview.

Jeff O’Brien, owner, Alright Pest Solutions, Lexington, Ohio, says you need to learn to think like a bed bug. “Leave nothing out and don’t guess,” says O’Brien.

“Don’t make assumptions about anything. It either is or is not,” Carter says. “I guarantee if you perform a good interview and inspection, get buy-in from the customer, and treat properly you’ll succeed.”

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