Bundling services to create a one-stop buying experience has been a staple of pest management companies as they look for ways to make it easier for consumers to retain their services and hopefully become a long-term customer.
And as more PMPs add mosquito management to their stable of service offerings more are starting to bundle it with monthly or quarterly general pest control services for both commercial and residential customers.
Dave Burns, president of Burns Pest Elimination in Phoenix, Arizona, says his company offers bundled services for general pest control and mosquito management and has discovered his commercial clients are taking greater advantage of the offering.
“In the Arizona market residential mosquito management tends to be hit or miss until mosquito pressure rises and homeowners take notice,” says Burns. “Our commercial clients, however, are different and the demand has been very strong.”
Burns says cost is the typically the main factor holding residential customers back from on adding mosquito management to their GPC bundle.
“The way we’ve designed and deploy our mosquito management program is a little different from others and starts with an extensive monitoring program of the property,” says Burns. “We do not come out and do a general spray treatment and leave it at that. It is a multi-step program that addresses correcting root causes and delivering targeted treatments to reduce the threat.”
For the Valley of the Sun’s numerous home owners associations and multi-family complexes, as well as five-star hospitality venues (i.e. resorts, golf courses) and health care facilities, protecting their residents, guests and patients from the threat mosquitoes present is worth the investment.
How great is the mosquito threat in the Phoenix metro area? According to the Maricopa County Public Health Department website, there were 92 confirmed cases of West Nile virus reported in 2017.
“Our commercial clients, especially hotels and health care facilities, are very concerned about liability issues from mosquitoes biting and infecting their guests, patients and employees and they are willing to commit the resources to have the work done,” says Burns. “When the Zika virus scare was at its peak we had some very serious conversations with clients.” (see related story below)
As demand grew for mosquito services over the last few years, Burns Pest Elimination consulted with officials from the Maricopa county vector control group on their experiences battling mosquitoes.
Arizona typically sees mosquito activity spike twice a year. Once in late summer when “monsoon” rains trigger mosquito activity season and in the late winter, early spring following the region’s rainy winter period where excess water can collect and create breeding areas.
“We tested various monitors, traps and surveillance tools to develop and refine protocols that would allow us to deliver an effective management program to meet the specific needs for our various commercial clients,” adds Burns.
Burns says one advantage of bundling mosquito management with commercial clients’ is that technicians, who are in a facility multiple times a month or even within a week, have more opportunity to observe, check monitors and document any mosquito threat.
A good commercial technician pays attention to the small details and is keenly observant of what’s happening on the client’s property, as well as adjacent parcels.
“Getting clients to understand conducive conditions and how they impact mosquito and other pest pressure is important,” says Burns. “From the initial inspection on through the service program, clients need to be reminded to eliminate these conditions.”
Some things an observant technician will take note of when monitoring for mosquitoes in a commercial account include:
• Know your clients landscape watering schedules to determine if they are overwatering and creating standing water.
• Check around entrances to buildings for overgrown landscaping and stagnant water features.
• Have air curtains installed on loading dock doors; mosquitoes can be “sucked” into a facility by air flow.
• The condition of screens on windows and doors.
• The impact of neighboring properties they do not have access to service that could be home to mosquito breeding locations.
“By following our protocols we are able to help clients identify conducive conditions and take the appropriate corrective actions,” says Burns. “We are also able to document our actions, a critical need for all commercial clients, and share that information digitally with the client.”
That’s A Costly Bite
How costly could a lawsuit over exposure to mosquitoes be? We have all seen six-figure settlements from bed bugs cases and mosquitoes can be equally as costly.
A long-time employee of the Union Pacific Railroad claimed a mosquito bite as a workplace injury after he was diagnosed with West Nile virus. The employee operated a machine that tamps down rails and often worked in areas where standing water and tall grasses - favored breeding location for mosquitoes - were present.
The employee claimed the machine’s cab where he worked from was not sealed properly allowing mosquitoes inside, and that the railroad did not cut down the tall grass and weeds.
Even though the company issued an accident prevention bulletin about the threat presented by West Nile Virus, the jury sided with the employee and found Union Pacific responsible for an unsafe work environment and awarded a $752,000 settlement.