Public health and safety are making headlines this year like never before, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The reality is, people are taking their health much more seriously.
As protectors of public health and property, pest management professionals (PMPs) are key to keeping them safe from pests indoors and out, particularly mosquitoes that may carry disease.
“Every pest control service should include a mosquito control program,” says Eric Fletcher, president of Eastern Arizona Exterminating in Mesa, Ariz. “If we are truly responsible for public health, then mosquitoes should be the first pest we address, since they are the world’s deadliest animal.”
Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports mosquitoes kill more people than any other animal in the world because they are capable of spreading malaria, West Nile virus, Zika virus, dengue, yellow fever, chikungunya and Eastern equine encephalitis. Malaria alone poses a risk to almost half of the world’s population, according to the CDC.
Customers who want to spend more time outdoors without the risk of bites are quick to turn to PMPs. Of course, mosquito control is not a one-and-done proposition.
JC Carrillo, owner of Hill Country Pest Control in Dripping Springs, Texas, says he listens to his customer’s needs, then shares his professional expertise that a service contract is more effective than a one-time treatment. Doing so generates more revenue and meets the customer’s long-term needs, he explains.
“Mosquito management is worth offering to protect the public and my customers’ overall health and wellbeing, giving them peace of mind,” Carrillo adds. “It gives customers the sense that you can take care of all their pest control needs.”
PMPs who offer mosquito control services say their efforts result in increased revenue and satisfied customers, according to Pest Management Professional’s (PMP’s) 2020 Mosquito Management Survey. Of the PMPs who responded, 70 percent expect their mosquito management revenue to increase in 2020.
ADD-ON SERVICE PAYS OFF
Doug Foster, president of Burt’s Termite & Pest Control in Columbus, Ind., didn’t always offer mosquito control services. Once he decided to get on board, he rolled it out slowly by informing current customers his company added the service. By the third year he made it available, his mosquito control renewal rate reached 90 percent. Most customers pre-paid before March to get a reduced rate.
“Mosquito control has become our fastest-growing service,” he says. “The unexpected beauty of this service has been that we also have added quarterly general pest control customers from our mosquito control base.”
Offering mosquito control as an add-on service is how the majority of the PMPs who answered PMP’s 2020 Mosquito Management Survey generate revenue from this type of work. A healthier bottom line isn’t the only benefit.
Jon Ipema, president of The Green Advantage in Crown Point, Ind., says not only is mosquito management a profitable service, it also helps build customer relationships.
“As services are rendered, our professional experience helps us find other issues or potential issues, and bring them to the attention of the customer,” he says. “This often leads to further sales as trust is built. In addition, nothing sells easier than getting rid of a bug that bites.”
SPREAD THE WORD
It’s those biting bugs that compel homeowners to call PMPs for help. Mosquito control has been gaining in popularity because customers want to spend more time in their backyards, and mosquito-borne illnesses continue to make headlines.
More than half of PMP’s 2020 Mosquito Management Survey respondents say residential structures account for much of their mosquito control work. But customers won’t think of you for mosquito control unless they know you offer it, so be sure to make customers aware of your service offerings. Consider using advertising, leave-behinds and vehicle wraps to get the word out.
Mosquitoes making news means free advertising to companies that offer mosquito management services, according to Jason Garney, operations manager for Attention Pest Solutions in Ballston Spa, N.Y. But there’s an added benefit, too.
“If I can create a new customer through mosquito work, I have opportunities to sell them my general pest control services as well,” he says.
Other PMPs market their mosquito control service using a separate company brand. Tom Drapeau, ACE, president of Freedom Pest Control in Merrimac, Mass., created Mosquito Busters for his company’s mosquito control branch. It features a dedicated website and separate logo.
Garney stresses the need to make sure your general pest control customers are aware you offer mosquito control services. “Often, these customers may not realize there are options for mosquito control, so be sure your technicians and office staff are informed and look for these opportunities,” he says. “Being able to offer these services to existing customers makes you that much more valuable, and generate more profit because you are already there.”
David Vitale, president of Pest & Termite Consultants in Raleigh, N.C., says combining mosquito treatment with other pest control services is a great way to improve profit margins. “Provide an above-average mosquito treatment and use the most effective chemical on the market,” he adds. “You do not want to cut corners.”
WORTH THE EFFORT
Mosquito control can prove challenging for many PMPs; it’s the nature of the pest. A thorough inspection is critical, as is clearly communicating that you can help control, but not entirely eliminate mosquitoes. Garney notes it’s important to set realistic expectations during your initial assessment of your customer’s property.
“If I set expectations on which I can deliver, chances are I will gain a long-term customer and he or she will tell others,” he says. “That’s what I am looking for, referrals and long-term relationships.”
Drapeau agrees that education helps ensure customer retention. His Mosquito Busters website features mosquito-related facts and tips for customers. “We want to teach our customers where in their yard mosquitoes breed, conditions that are conducive to mosquito breeding, and realistic expectations as to what we’re going to accomplish,” he says. “This makes for a great and long-term business relationship.”
Yet mosquito management is by far one of the most challenging insects Freedom Pest Control manages, Drapeau adds. “A customer’s yard is a small area of real estate to treat, given mosquitoes travel over such a large geographical area,” he says. “As with all facets of pest control, educating the consumer about mosquitoes and setting realistic expectations are the keys to success.”
Set customers straight if they think you can give them a mosquito-free yard. “If ‘no mosquitoes equal no bites’ is your sales pitch, you are setting yourself up for failure. Not only will you disappoint customers, you will frustrate your service personnel,” Foster says. “The premise of a good mosquito management program is suppression.”
Offering a fair price for your control services also will help build lasting customer relationships. “We are professionals; therefore, there is no reason not to demand a price deserving a professional,” Ipema says. “Underpricing devalues your services, limits your resources to provide professional service, and will attract customers who do not appreciate your services.”
New York-based Garney says pest control in his area is very competitive: “The best way to get work at good margins is to be true to your business value. Know your worth.”
Reducing mosquito populations gives customers peace of mind, and satisfied customers are good for a PMPs’ bottom line.