For planned purchases, baits still top the list of Pest Management Professional’s (PMP’s) 2022 State of the Industry survey. But there are five data points deviating from our 2021 survey that are worth noting, along with our best-guess theories as to why:
- Aerosol insecticides and applicators jumped from 32 percent to 74 percent, mirroring an increase of aerosol options on the market.
- Green pest control products rose from 37 percent to 44 percent, as more consumers — especially those who are home more as a result of the pandemic — look to pest management professionals (PMPs) to provide such options.
- GPS technology rose from 18 percent to 23 percent, likely due to PMPs looking for a way to offset recent increases in insurance and fuel costs by monitoring and improving the driving habits of their technicians.
- Trailers rose from 8 percent to 15 percent, likely because more PMPs are offering heat treatment and other services that require larger equipment.
- Merger and acquisition (M&A) broker services went from 6 percent to 10 percent, mirroring the industry’s increased M&A activity in recent months.
GETTING OUTSIDE HELP
This year, nearly a third of PMPs (32 percent) report using accounting services; 23 percent use legal services. Eighteen percent use business consulting services. Dauphin Ewart, CEO of Austin, Texas-based The Bug Master, notes he always is on the hunt for anything that will make his business more efficient. Optimizing his software system features and having an accounting firm take care of finances top his list.
“Whenever we find stress points in our business, we look at what technology potentially can do to help us work through the issue,” Ewart adds. “Our accounting firm actually helped us implement a couple of different tools this year, including an automatic invoice processing system that eliminates the need for someone to input and code invoices. With many of our employees working from home, we don’t have to rely so much on employees having to pick up physical mail in the office, either. We’re supporting a work environment that is much more distributed, not concentrated in one location.”
Adam Rodriquez plans to invest in a drone system in 2022 — among the 8 percent of respondents to do so. The owner-operator of Atom Pest Control in Bakersfield, Calif., says he sees the potential for inspecting roofs for rodent activity in particular.
“Anything that keeps me off the ladder for long periods is something worth looking into,” he explains.
SUPPLY AND DEMAND
In 2021, a common complaint in industries worldwide has been receiving materials and equipment in a timely manner. In some cases, a delay in manufacturing raw goods is the cause; in others, a lack of workers to make the finished product is to blame. The pandemic and the economy are the two root factors. And with demand outpacing supply, some PMPs are starting to feel the pinch in both long waits and higher prices. Still, the games must go on as scheduled.
Stewart Lenner points out the cost of personal protective equipment (PPE) has gone up exponentially in recent months, although thankfully, availability has become more favorable vs. the beginning of the pandemic last year.
“We are buying fewer gloves in volume, for example, but we’re spending the same amount on them as we did in 2019, because of the price increase,” says Lenner, president of Arrow Pest Control, Morganville, N.J. “As for trucks, we’re getting away from leasing and going to full-on purchasing. But while I am ready to buy 10 trucks, the demand is such that I’m having trouble just getting one truck ordered.”
Ewart is in a similar spot; at the time of his interview, he was dealing with whether it was worth totaling a truck that was hit, or trying to repair it. He’s been buying Nissan Frontiers for years, and with an approximately five- to six-year run life, it’s been convenient to be able to reuse aftermarket camper shells on different model years. The 2022 Frontier, however, boasts a redesign on which the camper shells will no longer fit. At about $2,500 per shell, it’s an added cost to consider.
“It made us take a look at what else is out there,” he explains. “In the Austin market, many customers are interested in doing business with companies that are environmentally savvy. That made us look at the new Ford Mavericks — four-door trucks with an electrical outlet in its bed, getting 40 miles to the gallon. Historically, our techs drive trucks and our sales team drives small cars. We’ve decided to switch to a whole run of Mavericks for both teams, and have 14 on order, which is about 20 percent of our fleet.”
Above all, reminds David Poplin, ACE, president of Murrieta, Calif.-based Legion Pest Management, frustration with product and equipment delays and shortages are never worth complaining to customers about, as they’re likely experiencing the same pain points in their own careers.
“We try not to involve our customers unless we absolutely have to, as they seek results, not excuses,” he says.