Many pest management professionals (PMPs) offer mosquito management services to generate additional revenue. News reports of mosquito-borne viruses and disease certainly have helped raise awareness of the impact mosquitoes have on public health, making it easier to sell the service to customers.
“I don’t try to scare anyone into buying a service,” says Toby Crowe, branch manager for Compass Pest Management in Clarkesville, Ga. “Although mosquitoes transfer viruses, this is not something I focus on. The media will do that for you free of charge; it’s probably the reason you were called in the first place.”
Indeed, only 32 percent of the PMPs who responded to Pest Management Professional’s (PMP’s) 2019 Mosquito Management Survey said they mention the Zika virus in their promotional and advertising materials. Last year, that figure was 41 percent.
Regardless, residential customers who hire PMPs for mosquito control are well aware of the diseases these pests carry. The majority of the PMPs who offer mosquito control services and responded to PMP’s survey said concerns about the Zika virus have led to additional business.
“Mosquito management is worth offering your customers and community because it helps reduce the population of disease-carrying mosquitoes,” says Kevin Hudson, director of sales and business development for Advanced Services Pest Control in Augusta, Ga. “Mosquito reduction services provide a safer and more enjoyable outdoor space for one of your business’ most important assets: your customers.”
Is it possible to add revenue without alarming customers? For Crowe, being honest leads to work with higher profit margins. “I focus on the quality of work we do and the quality of professional technicians we employ,” he says.
Todd Barber, owner of Barber’s Best Termite and Pest in Tallahassee, Fla., says delivering an effective mosquito suppression service helps protect the community. But mosquito management involves more than simply applying pesticides.
“You and your customer need to understand the behavior and life cycle of mosquitoes for the service to have the desired results,” he says. “Working with your customer toward the goal of mosquito suppression will have a greater benefit for them, and better profit margins for your company.”
Mosquito management revenue is expected to rise this year, say 72 percent of those who responded to PMP’s 2019 Mosquito Management Survey. The ways in which it will happen will vary.
“The best way to add more mosquito control sales is to inform your current customers it’s available,” says David Fleming, owner of Pest Management Solutions in Spartanburg, S.C. “It’s not uncommon for a customer to hire a mosquito specialist company or a landscaper to treat their property, because they don’t know it’s an option with your company.”
He recommends offering new customers a discount for mosquito control services at the time of the original service call. Doing so will allow the customer to see how well the treatment works — and enable you to increase sales without making an extra trip, he says.
“Mosquito management treatments are worth offering because the profit margins are high. They add revenue to the bottom line and often can be performed at the same time as other general pest control services, which saves time and gas,” Fleming continues. “They add value for your customer. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.”
Jacob Barnes, owner of Barnes Wildlife Control in Dayton, Ohio, finds helping control mosquito populations rewarding. “It’s easy to sell mosquito management services to a current customer because no one likes to be bitten,” he says.
Like most who provide wildlife control, Barnes is of the mindset to try to fix the problem, if possible. For instance, if you know the source of the mosquito-breeding habitat, figure out how to eliminate it, he says. Consider using a larvicide during treatment, emptying standing water, changing the landscape, or improving drainage.
“Provide real solutions to the problem,” Barnes says. “This will not only make you more money in the near term, it will build trust with the client and possibly land you more work and referrals.”
Michael Burks, owner of Ecopest Solutions in Cleveland, Tenn., advises PMPs to ask customers whether mosquitoes have bitten them yet. “Do it face-to-face at the time of service, or when scheduling a service call, or write it in the notes of a service ticket,” he says.
Burks also suggests PMPs spend time with the owners of restaurants that have outdoor eating areas: “The last thing they want are for folks to not want to eat there because of the mosquitoes.”
Offering mosquito control as a one-time service for backyard parties or weddings is another way to gain mosquito control business. PMP’s 2019 Mosquito Management Survey reveals 21 percent of respondents offer mosquito management services for one-time special events.
Meeting with wedding coordinators in your town may lead to additional one-time mosquito management customers, says Burks. Because no one wants to throw a party where mosquitoes may ruin the fun, customers often are willing to pay more for a service they believe they cannot do without.
But that’s not the only advantage to offering mosquito control for special events, Advanced Services’ Hudson says, adding, “The great thing is, they don’t involve retreatments or follow-ups.”
Andy Shrawder, owner of Hershey Termite and Pest Control in Hershey, Pa., agrees. “Why turn the service away?” he asks. “Certainly, you want to explain the challenges that come with mosquito control, but you should also take the opportunity to offer some additional tips to make their affair more enjoyable.”
He recommends advising these one-time customers to use fans to create air movement to help keep mosquitoes away. He also suggests talking to customers about scheduling their events at a time when mosquito activity is low, and helping them identify and eliminate breeding areas.
“These services can, and should be invoiced at a premium price,” Shrawder says. “But it’s also a chance to convert a one-time service into a more moderately priced, ongoing plan, and maybe a general pest control or termite protection plan as well.”
Pricing mosquito treatments based on the customer’s property also can help increase revenue.
“Customize your price for each yard. For instance, the more vegetation, the higher the price,” Shrawder says. “There should not be a standard price for mosquito work because each situation is different.”
Often, PMPs overlook the most obvious way to boost their bottom lines: Pricing jobs based on your knowledge and expertise.
“Ask for the money,” Compass Pest Management’s Crowe advises. “Don’t be afraid to ask to be paid what you are worth.”
Michele Eccles, president of SHS Pest Control in Portsmouth, R.I., says she believes mosquito management is a lucrative add-on service for existing customers. “Many businesses are now offering mosquito control at very low prices; competing with them lowers profits greatly,” Eccles adds. “For those of us in the pest control industry, offering a full line of pest control services allows us to bundle them and keep our profits high.”
Robert Erwin, president of Erwin’s Pest Control in Clovis, Calif., says PMPs who know mosquito habits, habitat and biology will enjoy success because they can evaluate control solutions based on those three factors. “You always will have higher profit margins when customers can see a real difference in their environments before and after your mosquito treatments,” he says. “Those customers will come back to you the following year, and will bring neighbors and family with them.”
Education doesn’t just benefit customers, Erwin says. It’s important for PMPs, too. Knowledge will give you the confidence to answer your customers’ questions, providing them with realistic expectations and peace of mind. “You will help them enjoy their backyards again,” he says.
Chad Highley, branch manager for Terminix in Lawton, Okla., advises educating customers on the pest issues you find, to create the next opportunity to provide great service and increase their quality of life.
“When you present yourself as an expert, your customer will remain as long as you continue to prove you are their expert,” he says. “Pricing the work for the value it adds for the customer is important,” says Andy Yant, president of PEST Inc. in Goodlettsville, Tenn. “We can price work cheaply and try to gain more customers, but we weaken our image as professionals.”
He points out that customers appreciate an effective treatment, and most are willing to pay for it. “There’s no reason we shouldn’t be profitable and be able to spend the proper amount of time on a mosquito control service,” he says. “When customers are able to enjoy their outdoor areas and not be bitten by mosquitoes, they are likely to encourage their friends and neighbors to use our service.”
Fortunately, finding work is not a problem for PMPs who know where to look. “The opportunity to gain more mosquito customers is almost endless,” Yant says. “But we first market our mosquito management services to existing customers. If they want us to perform this service with their regularly scheduled services, we bundle them to save time and money.”
Mosquito control using today’s technologies is effective, PMP’s 2019 Mosquito Management Survey shows. In 2018, 79 percent of respondents had 4 percent or fewer callbacks.
Andy Shrawder, owner of Hershey Termite and Pest Control in Hershey, Pa., says callbacks equal wasted time and money, especially if they could have been avoided with proper inspections in the first place. “It’s hard to develop a successful treatment plan if you’re not operating with all the facts,” he says.
“Using your existing customer base to offer an add-on service like mosquito control is a no-brainer,” Shrawder adds. “While I don’t recommend scaring your customers into service, make yourself available to address their concerns. If they’re ready to start service, make sure you’re the one who gets the job; if not, there’s a company right behind you that will be happy to provide mosquito control service for them, and maybe even take the general pest control contract that used to be yours.”
*FEATURED PHOTO: CDC/JIM GATHANY