Being an outsider in the pest control industry has not stopped former pilot Dan Morgan from meeting Canada’s growing bed bug problem head on — and finding great success. Morgan, who founded Toronto-based GreenTech Bug Heat 11 years ago, has once again entered uncharted waters by making the jump to television.
Morgan and his team at GreenTech recently appeared in an episode of the CMT Canada reality TV program “Billy Goes North,” which stars Billy Bretherton, a PCO from Louisiana who starred in “Billy the Exterminator,” a reality show that ran from 2009 to 2012 on A&E. Bretherton’s newest TV project, “Billy Goes North,” follows the subculture icon as he traverses through Canada tackling the “biggest, baddest pests and wildest animals of the Great White North.”
As the show’s website states, “Billy travels from cities and suburbs to rural towns, farms and into the wilderness. From wolves preying on livestock and beavers flooding country roads to evicting porcupines from a northern cottage and escaped exotic animals running amok, no job is too difficult for Billy. Along the way, Billy teams up with local exterminators who have earned their stripes handling the North’s wildest beasts.”
ABOUT GREENTECH. In choosing GreenTech as one of the firms to follow, the CMT Canada producers honed in on a fast-growing company that has earned a reputation for being a top bed bug control company in Southern Canada.
GreenTech has come a long way since Morgan founded it in 2006. An airline pilot for 35 years, Morgan launched several business ventures to occupy his time while he was not in the air. In 2004, he launched Royal Forest Laundry, a successful laundromat. One of the trends he observed was customers needing to get items laundered due to bed bug problems.
“What I was finding out is we were a lot of people’s first point of contact — not pest control companies,” Morgan said. “We would refer customers to a pest control company, but I didn’t like not having an answer and not having a solution for them.”
After doing extensive research on bed bugs and getting the proper training and certifications, he launched GreenTech in 2006 as the laundry firm’s bed bug division. GreenTech uses heat treatments to control bed bugs, and will supplement those treatments with traditional pesticides when necessary. “One of the things I’ve observed is that bed bugs are different from mice and ants because it’s an emotional issue. You spend time counseling people. It’s not uncommon for people to be crying on the phone [to us].”
While Morgan and his team have training and certifications to perform all types of pest control — not just bed bug work — he has chosen to focus only on bed bugs. “That goes back to my flight school training. We are very focused on doing one thing well.”
In fact, Morgan recently sold his laundry firm in order to devote himself fully to his bed bug business. GreenTech now has seven employees and Morgan says the company generates yearly revenue “in the seven figures.”
TV OPPORTUNITY. The opportunity to appear in “Billy Goes North” came from “out of the blue,” according to Morgan.
“I got a call to do a screen test in downtown Toronto. I met with a producer and read on camera and it went really well,” Morgan said. “For the most part, the show deals with larger animals — wrestling with raccoons and other shenanigans like that — but they wanted bed bugs too because they transcend geography and socioeconomic life in Canada. They are a problem not just in urban areas in Canada, but in northern regions too.”
After the producers approved Morgan as an on-air bed bug expert, the next step was finding a “camera worthy” bed bug infestation. A few months after meeting with producers, Morgan found such an account. A large (4,000-plus square foot), 85-year-old house that had been re-purposed for multi-unit rentals had a severe bed bug problem that Morgan estimated had gone unreported for at least one year.
For this particular treatment, Morgan and his crew used heat (140°F), which can permeate difficult-to-reach areas and kill bed bugs and their eggs.
Morgan said being a part of the filming was a great company-wide experience and the former pilot developed a kinship with Bretherton, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, who performed pest control at Air Force bases. “People shouldn’t pass judgement on him. He’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. He was extremely knowledgeable and a consummate professional.”
Learn more about the show at http://www.cmt.ca/show/billy-goes-north.
The author is internet editor and managing editor of PCT. Contact him at email@example.com.
PMPs can turn to Bell for a better, more professional way to trap mice with the new Trapper Hidden Kill Mouse Trap, the firm says. This new mousetrap was designed with a quick, no mess capture and kill mechanism that is an upgrade from wood traps, all at an exceptional value, the firm added.
With a stealthy, low-profile design Hidden Kill blends into a variety of surroundings, Bell says. Built with a fully enclosed capture area, it keeps the captured mouse hidden inside. Other features include:
- Easy, no touch disposal
- Two-way entry allows mice to enter from either direction
- Innovative design for optional corner placement
- Removable bait cup for safe and easy baiting
The Hidden Kill is a quality trap that is built to withstand a variety of baiting environments, the manufacturer reports. The Hidden Kill is an economical option for PMPs looking for both a professional and value-priced mousetrap. “Hidden Kill provides PMPs an opportunity to offer a higher value mouse trapping service, differentiating themselves from competition and doing so with little to no added costs,” said Todd Butzow, Bell’s vice president of marketing. “It really is one of those rare ‘win-win’ situations.”
Nisus Corporation announced that its Bora-Care with Mold-Care product will begin shipping in blue bottles within the next few months. There is no change in the product or the package except for the color.
“Bora-Care with Mold-Care is the preferred product for protecting wood after flooding,” says Lee Barrett, vice president of Nisus Pest Control Division, “and with the flooding in Baton Rouge and Iowa, our bottle inventory for the year was used up in about six weeks.”
Rather than waiting another few months to be scheduled with the bottle manufacturer for the typical green bottle, the company decided to do an immediate run along with a blue bottle that was being created for another company. This move ensures consistent delivery to PMPs treating for wood protection, especially critical in flooded areas, Nisus said.
The firm said Bora-Care with Mold-Care is in high demand for mold control after flooding. “Disinfectants don’t kill mold in wood and are not very effective on porous materials,” said Dr. Jeff Lloyd, corporate vice president of research and development at Nisus Corporation. “Mold-Care is 21 times more concentrated than disinfectants, and when combined with Bora-Care is synergistic. It not only kills mold, it also prevents mold as long as water in the wood is controlled.”
Therma-Stor/Quest recently introduced its newest Hydronic Heat System Trailer. Among the improved features to this system is the reduced trailer length from 14 feet to 12 feet. The new Quest System is job-ready, no need to unbox supplies or other materials. The heat exchangers are shipped along the side wall of the trailer and are strapped in. Hoses are hung on e-tracks. Fans are stacked to the front of the trailer and are securely strapped. The manifolds, tees, etc., are in a container. And, the central heater now produces 385,000 BTUs of clean and safe heat, the firm says.
Syngenta has revised its PestPartners 365 Program for 2016-17. Now in its third year, this program offers PMPs savings on the entire Syngenta pest management product portfolio all year long, instead of limiting rebates to seasonal or monthly deals.
PestPartners 365 now features a six-month period to qualify for yearlong savings. The qualifying period for the program began on Oct. 1, 2016, and runs through March 31, 2017. The program year begins Oct. 1, 2016, and ends Sept. 30, 2017.
“Maintaining a business and overseeing day-to-day operations gives PMPs plenty to deal with,” said Pat Willenbrock, head of marketing for Professional Pest Management (PPM) for Syngenta in North America. “By re-aligning our qualifying period and program year, we’re providing flexibility for PMPs to purchase products when it’s most convenient for them, whether that be at the beginning or the end of the year.”
Each qualifying product contains a specific base rebate dollar amount. To qualify for the program, PMPs must earn at least $200 in base rebates between Oct. 1, 2016, and March 31, 2017. Once qualified, PMPs have the opportunity to receive up to three rebate payments for purchases throughout the year. PMPs who qualify can enjoy extended payment terms through July 6, 2017, on select purchases with SummerPay.
Also new this year, Syngenta is introducing an Early Order Bonus offer. PMPs who earn a base rebate of at least $500 between Oct.1, 2016, and Dec. 7, 2016, will earn a one-time Early Order Bonus rebate, which will be paid on or about Feb. 28, 2017.
As pest control marketers, we are constantly tasked with finding innovative ways to connect with a consumer base that is more educated, empowered and savvy than ever before. Our messages need to resonate and provide value while also cutting through the clutter. And, let’s face it, coming up with new ideas yearly can be a bit of challenge for even the most creative minds. It’s good practice to learn from fellow marketers, regardless of their industry, and take a look back at successful campaigns that worked to help inspire and fuel ideas we can use in our own programs.
The following are a few of my favorite marketing campaigns of 2016, along with some lessons to consider for 2017.
Thinking Big With an Edible Home Sweepstakes
Inspiration: To generate buzz about Chobani’s latest product line, the Greek yogurt powerhouse partnered with local chefs and landscapers to design the Chobani Meze Home. The multi-million dollar townhouse in the heart of New York City contained more than 25 types of produce used as “edible spoons” for the new Chobani Meze Dips. They decorated the house in fresh, beautiful, edible crudités, and invited the media to taste-test the product in every room of the house. The company also launched a sweepstakes prompting entrants to share “how they dip” for the chance to win a weekend stay for four in the edible home. In total, Chobani received nearly 10,000 sweepstakes entries and more than 400 earned media placements, resulting in 300 million media impressions.
Why It Worked: The Chobani marketing team made a smart decision to incorporate a user-generated contest into the mix. Simply building the Chobani Meze Home for the media tour would not have been enough to get such a large volume of people talking about the new product line. But, running a sweepstakes for a chance to win a stay in the home engaged directly with consumers and started the conversation on social media.
What We Can Learn: Contests and sweepstakes remain a tried-and-true promotional tactic for many industries, including ours, due to their ease and effectiveness of engaging with a targeted audience. The best part about contests is you can scale them as big or as small as you please (or to what your budget allows). Try testing out a small test contest by posting a pest photo on your Facebook page and asking your fans to guess the species in the comments for a chance to win a $25 gift card. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the engagement results. Then, grow from there!
Winning the Presidential Debate on Twitter
Inspiration: Merriam-Webster arguably stole the show during the second presidential debate by tweeting insights into both candidates’ word choices, firing off witty tweets within 60 seconds of when each word was said. They also tweeted interesting data points about the words that sent people to Merriam-Webster.com in search of definitions. This real-time marketing tactic was a huge success for the dictionary publisher, as it saw a 15,500 percent increase in its website searches for one word, alone. Talk about capitalizing on the moment and a huge win!
Why It Worked: The marketing folks at Merriam-Webster reacted fast and created content that was on brand and hyper-relevant to its fans. They were clever and consistent throughout the debate, getting both attention and retweets in the moment, and direct website traffic.
What We Can Learn: Successful real-time marketing campaigns hinge on sharing the right content with the right people at the right time. That said, social media provides us with the ability to react almost instantaneously to news or special events — and pest control companies are no different. The Professional Pest Management Alliance found success with a similar tactic in 2015 by repurposing a viral photo of Richard Sherman from the Seattle Seahawks with a stunned look on his face, taken during the Super Bowl. We overlaid the photo with text that said, “When you find out the groundhog saw his shadow” and shared it on @PestWorld’s Facebook page for Groundhog Day. The post remains one of our most popular on the page.
If you are considering getting your feet wet in the real-time marketing space, it’s best to plan ahead as much as possible. Make sure anyone who needs to approve your social media content is available to chime in at a moment’s notice and understands restrictions associated with using certain names or terms, such as “Olympics,” in brand advertising.
Claiming the 8th Wonder of the WorldInspiration: The Tourism Partnership of Niagara launched a grassroots campaign in partnership with McCann Canada this year to boost general travel to the area and its falls. The company called on Canadians to show their support by sharing why it deserved the elusive title of the “8th Wonder of the World,” using the hashtag #ClaimThe8th. A handful of 30-second videos were also produced and posted as part of the cheeky campaign to depict how the destination stacks up in comparison to other landmarks. The campaign resulted in thousands of people talking about Niagara on social media in a short period of time — all while using a hashtag for the company to track performance.
Why It Worked: This is a great example of how staking a claim on something that is “up for grabs” is an effective tactic to tell a brand’s story. The Tourism Partnership of Niagara found that there is no official, governing body that controls the credentials for the famous “wonders of the world” designation, so they jumped on the opportunity to seize the title.
What We Can Learn: Thinking big and about what makes your company or service standout can be both newsworthy and pride-inducing for your employees and community. PPMA has employed the use of designations, such as National Pest Management Month, Termite Awareness Week, Bed Bug Awareness Week and Rodent Awareness Week, and uses the celebrations to attract media attention around key pest issues. Whether you create your own community effort or piggyback on an established event (feel free to join us in our celebrations), use the timeliness and newsworthiness to your advantage.
A CHALLENGE. These examples are just a sampling of the many clever campaigns available as a source of inspiration for your own marketing plans. With the New Year just around the corner, I challenge you to take time to research other successful marketing campaigns and find one that resonates with you. Then, take the core principles and apply them when brainstorming new marketing efforts. Maybe this exercise will spark your next big idea!
Cindy Mannes is executive director of the Professional Pest Management Alliance and vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more about PPMA, visit www.npmapestworld.org/ppma.
When I visited Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex for my high school daughter’s team dance competition, I noticed that the fences between the fields were constructed on gravel a foot deep. Why would I have noticed that? And why does it matter to pest management professionals? Disney is smart. It’s easy to see that the gravel makes it faster and easier to maintain the fields. But, more importantly, Disney considered maintenance issues, costs and procedures before building the fields.
Think about the economics of Disney’s decision. By spending more money upfront to put the rock down, the facility saves time and money. Additionally, think of all the problems associated with mowing grass along a fence line — which is probably once or twice a week.
If Disney had done it the fast way, installing the fence on grass, there would be lots of extra work at every mowing. After mowing, an employee would have to go back with a weed eater on both sides of the fence, and there would still be unsightly grass growing in the fence, creating an eyesore and habitat for all sorts of undesirable creatures, creating even more work and cost.
A PEST CONTROL PERSPECTIVE. Pest control professionals should follow Disney’s lead. They need to better understand maintenance issues before buying equipment. Too many times PMPs don’t think about maintenance until it is needed. By then it may take longer, cost more, result in more cancelled appointments, etc.
Following are some questions to ask yourself before purchasing equipment:
- Which parts or components are likely to require maintenance?
- Are those components easily accessible for maintenance?
- Where do I get parts?
- Who does the maintenance?
- How long is it likely to take?
- What is the likely cost?
- What is maintenance frequency?
- Are there any special considerations (e.g., tank must be emptied first)?
PLANNING FOR MAINTENANCE. Considering maintenance issues up front doesn’t have to slow down the process or be expensive. You may decide a piece of equipment is so beneficial that it is worth a few maintenance hassles. But at least you will know this up front and can plan accordingly. For example, you would schedule maintenance well in advance or budget for the expense.
When companies fail to plan for maintenance, a number of problems can occur. Following are some of the most memorable maintenance nightmares we’ve seen:
- Hose reel above gas engine. Had to unroll 300 feet of hose to put gas in engine.
- Filter inside backpack tank. If filter got clogged, had to reach into tank full of chemical to check and clean the filter.
- Equipment installed too tightly together. Service required removing sprayer skid from vehicle, so service took an hour, rather than five minutes.
- Can’t check power sprayer filter or service the sprayer pump when tank has chemical in it without dumping a tank full of chemical.
- Gas engine mounted too low/too close to truck bed. Can’t change oil without dumping oil in truck bed or unbolting sprayer and removing it from vehicle.
- Maintenance parts were not available locally, increasing equipment downtime waiting for parts.
Don’t rush blindly into equipment purchases. Think about and plan for maintenance issues when adding a piece of equipment to your fleet. Ask questions upfront. Designing for maintenance may or may not cost more upfront, but it will pay you back every day.