Bed bug management tips from PMPs


June 28, 2017

Pest management professionals (PMPs) who regularly battle bed bugs share strategies that work for them.

Photo: ©

Photo: ©

Identify the pest.

“Proper identification starts with a thorough inspection of anywhere the client spends most of their time. We then take samples to be examined under our microscopes for a positive ID of bed bugs. We also use LED flashlights and monitors. These tools, along with our normal inspection protocol and treatment rotation, allow us to keep ahead of the bed bug situations within our accounts.”
— Robert Szczech, assistant general manager and Cleveland branch manager, Central Exterminating Co.

Be thorough.

“We have found bed bugs in places you wouldn’t think. Don’t leave any stone unturned. Only use your gloves to contact infested areas if you can help it, and check yourself before entering your service vehicle. The last thing you need to do is bring bed bugs home or back to the office.”
— Jerad Larkey, owner, All In One Pest Home and Lawn, Iola, Kan.

Educate the customer.

Jacob_Haslem-square“When you are dealing with bed bugs, you really have to get the customer to understand they are partners with you in eliminating the problem. So much of the effectiveness of the treatment is dependent on the customer making the right preparations and following direction from the PMP. In the process of educating the customer, it is a fine line you tread in getting them to understand the gravity of a bed bug infestation without scaring them.”
— Jacob Haslem, owner/operator, ActivePro Pest Control, Hurricane, Utah

Show compassion.

Christina_Eaton-squareListen to customers’ thoughts and concerns. Sympathize with your customers. Don’t say they have an infestation, and reassure them it can happen to anyone. Don’t judge the mess, if there is one. Follow up after treatment. People like to know you care.”
— Christina Eaton, account manager, Rose Pest Solutions, Troy, Mich.

Suggest help when necessary.

Mark_Giordano-square“Bed bugs have a huge psychological effect on some people, and we have informed clients to seek professional psychological help in dealing with them. Our clients’ concerns are understandable, because anyone who has performed numerous ectoparasite treatments would be lying if they didn’t feel like the ectoparasites were crawling on their skin after they physically were. It is a fine line we leave up to our sales team to discern, because of how each client appears to deal psychologically with their infestations.”
— Mark Giordano, president, Scientific Exterminating Services, Saint James, N.Y.

Make prep a requirement.

“Customers have to sign a prep sheet, along with the service agreement, that details what must be done. We will not treat for bed bugs unless they prepared properly.”
— Roger Burgess, president, Burco Services, Atlanta

Help customers understand.

“In addition to our preparation checklist, we have a preparation video. Customers can go to our website and watch that video, which walks them through all the things they need to address. People who don’t know how to read can watch the video. Regardless of whether they can read or speak English, nobody wants to live with bed bugs.”
— Brent Roberts, owner, Custom Bedbug Inc., Eagle, Idaho

Tell customers what to expect.

Darrell_Bush-square“Don’t promise customers they will not see bed bugs after you’re done with treatment. Give them realistic expectations.”
— Darrell Bush, president, Bush Termite and Pest Control, Edwardsville, Ill.

Don’t explain the level of activity.

“I do not quantify the level of infestation to the client; they either have bed bugs or they don’t. I made the mistake once of telling a customer, before the inspection was complete, that his bed bug problem was minimal. The third bedroom, ‘which no one slept in,’ was a disaster. We stopped counting at 100-plus bed bugs and dozens upon dozens of eggs on the bed frame, nightstands and on the frame of a large painting hanging above the bed. Our credibility took a hit. Now, I feel more comfortable with confirming ‘yes’ or ‘no’ regarding bed bugs; it makes pricing and future expectations much easier to explain and justify.”
— Jim Contreras, president, Professional Pest Control, Ravensdale, Wash.

Get a signed contract.

Joseph_Sheehan-square“A corporate attorney should review your contracts. Bed bug contracts need to spell out everything for the customer, including prep if applicable, what is expected of the customer and management, if applicable, and what the customer should expect from the PMP. We will not schedule any type of service without a signed agreement and a credit card on file.”
— Joseph Sheehan, president, Colony Pest Management Inc., Brooklyn, N.Y.

Evaluate new products and equipment.

“We learn about the new products and equipment developed for bed bug management through articles in PMP magazine, and product distributors and manufacturers. We hold mandatory meetings in our office to make sure we have all the current information. A few times a year, we meet at a customer’s location for hands-on training in the actual environment where we would be using the new product or equipment.”
— Michael Gannon, director of operations, Owl Pest Prevention, Hyattsville, Md.

Provide ongoing training.

“We hold monthly training meetings with our service and sales teams. We also have weekly individual training sessions with our employees. In addition, we have an annual training day for the entire company. This allows us to give individualized training based on the needs of the employee, yet still get a group dynamic to ensure the training message is consistent across all teams.”
— Patrick Boland, ACE, technical director, Scherzinger Pest Control, Cincinnati


About the Author

Diane Sofranec

Diane Sofranec is the senior editor for PMP magazine. She can be reached at or 216-706-3793.

Leave A Comment

Comments are closed.