Do your part to improve public perception


August 9, 2023

Jerry Schappert

Jerry Schappert, ACE

They say — and I don’t know who “they” are — that perception is reality, and to a degree this makes total sense.

I have a perception of lawyers, and I bet a lot of you would be on the same page with me. That said, I’ve dealt with lawyers when I’ve had to, and most have been friendly, hard-working and caring. They also say: Everyone hates lawyers until they need one. I guess my perception has deep roots.

Overall view of pest control

So, when it comes to pest management professionals (PMPs), is there an overall perception and if so, is it negative? If this is true, how can we in the pest control industry change it?

These are not easy questions, and they may be hard to answer. Are we viewed as a negative? Or are we perceived as a necessary evil the public has to grin and bear only until their pest issues are corrected? When we pull in the driveway, are the shades drawn? Are we asked to park out back? My answer is no. No, this is not the case whatsoever in my little world.

Showing improvement

My company has been around a bit, and I’ve watched my customers’ families grow to the point where their kids now have kids and we are part of the family, too. We’ve been there when their fledgling businesses were just starting out and they could barely pay their bills, ours included. Now, they are multimillion-dollar firms with several locations and you guessed it, we service them all.

I could go on and on, but let me address the overall perception I believe the Pest Cemetery Crew members had in mind when I asked them about this subject.

Many years ago, our profession was thought of as just a notch higher than a “honey dipper.” Honey dipper is a slang term for people who cleaned out septic tanks long before they had sophisticated pumps to do the job. It was considered a distasteful profession.

In my mind, however, the pest control industry has made great strides and gone to great lengths to bolster the perception of PMPs to the public. National and local associations work very hard to do this with websites, public information, continuing education classes and business retreats where owners come together for the betterment of our industry. Their efforts have yielded great results. Still, much of the public view pest control and PMPs negatively, so we’ve got some work to do.

How to help

Let me ask you: Are you doing your part? Have you joined a pest control industry association? Have you taken the time and effort to present you and your firm in the best light? Do your vehicles, equipment and clothing portray a professional image? Do you go above and beyond when you offer service? Do you price your work accordingly? All these things matter and reinforce the industry’s push to change the public’s perception. You cannot do this for others, and they may never change on their own. We can only do it one PMP at a time and eventually, this reality will become their perception.

The Pest Cemetery Crew

“Our industry is underappreciated. People don’t realize the commitment and training we are required to obtain to provide the services we offer. Our industry’s national and state associations must do much more to market the true and essential value of our industry.”
— David Poplin, ACE, President, Legion Pest Management, Murrieta, Calif.

“I absolutely have pride. Our industry protects homes, health, property and environment. Without pest control, our lives would be significantly different.”
— Travis Schnelle, Owner, Triumph Pest Solutions, Plymouth, Wis.

“Our prices are directly tied to public perception. If we try to change the perception and are successful, we become more valuable in the public’s eyes. Also, we must strive to overperform. There is no other industry that does more to protect people’s homes, food and well-being. Be proud you are in this great industry.”
— Josh Rzepka, President, Enviro-Pest Solutions, Waterloo, Iowa

About the Author

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SCHAPPERT is owner of The Bug Doctor, Ocala, Fla., and administrator for Facebook industry discussion group Pest Cemetery. He may be reached at

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