AI offers promising possibilities for pest control businesses


December 20, 2023

Photo: Shutthiphong Chandaeng / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Photo: Shutthiphong Chandaeng / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a big trend that is coming regardless of whether we are ready. Companies are already using this technology to do things like answer the phone, sell services over the phone, and even route field staff. The only thing I have not seen it be able to do is to make the morning coffee, but I am quite sure that is coming as well.

I recently watched a demonstration of AI answering the phone, listening to the customer’s questions, selling a program, and then setting the appointment. While I could tell it was not a person, I suspect that was only because I already knew it was AI and was listening for clues. If I had called and AI had answered the phone, I may have thought the person was distracted, but I doubt I would have known it wasn’t a person at all.

The following week, I attended a seminar with people from other industries through a business group I am in. The demonstration was fascinating: Imagine dumping your customer database into a program that would analyze who your customers are so people just like them could be identified and marketed to. Maybe it would even use public information to market to homes closest to the ones you already serve. It also could analyze the pest trends occurring in that area and send emails to neighbors to let them know that “X” is becoming a problem in their neighborhood and you already are working with “X” (hopefully, a significant number) of their neighbors to solve the issue.

Efficient sales tool

Certainly, AI could be used to cross-sell to your existing customers the additional services you offer. If you only provide general pest control for that customer, maybe they need termite treatment/coverage or rodent exclusion services. As the weather turns, your marketing could target the prospective customers who are closest to your existing customers, and be very specific — and compelling. Add in those prospects who already are seeing your well-branded (at least they should be) vehicles in the area, and soon your customer base grows in a specific area.

AI could be used for advertising. It can analyze trends of customer needs, in addition to activity happening seasonally in real time, and get your message out before anyone else.

Dennis Jenkins

Dennis Jenkins

For the advertising creative, AI can come up with compelling artwork and characters (think insects animated with personality) that will grab the attention of the reader — all without you needing a creative director. Email campaigns would be much more compelling than most of us could imagine, without having to budget for staff to do this.

AI can analyze your database. It can find people with similar interests in the areas you want customers, and serve up messages and images that cater to the person you are targeting.

Changes ahead

The thought of AI having and using all the information there is about us, our customers and our potential customers, may be disturbing. But I don’t think anyone is going to stop this train.

I am actually looking forward to this technology because I know phone calls will be answered more quickly. However, every time we implement technology like this, we have to consider the people who used to do those jobs. How far into the future will it be before there are no people in call centers — and where will they go after that to get jobs?

The future holds much wonder. I just hope we all don’t wonder when we became irrelevant.

About the Author

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JENKINS, who rotates this column with his brothers Bobby and Raleigh, is president of ABC Home & Commercial Services, Dallas, Texas. He can be reached at

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