One of the biggest decisions a pest control owner makes is determining add-on services that can 1) increase the bottom line, 2) keep technicians busy throughout winter months, and 3) provide a valuable service to customers. Many companies offer handyman services, holiday lighting, snow removal, lawn care, wildlife prevention and more. There is another opportunity for the pest management industry: installing TAP insulation.
What is TAP Insulation? The result of the merger of two technologies, TAP is a natural borate insecticide combined with natural cellulose insulation. It is a new form of pest control that uses the thermal envelope of a home to provide protection against pests. It provides Thermal, Acoustical and Pest Control qualities (TAP) and is made of recycled newspaper. The paper is reduced in size and then fed through a disc-mill that processes the fibers into a cotton-ball-like substance. The product is then infused with a special formulation of borates to help control pests and render the insulation fire-retardant.
Borates have long been used as pest control materials because insects do not build a tolerance to them. The insulation does not need retreating and is effective against ants, cockroaches, silverfish, termites and other pests, the company reports. It is promoted as a proactive, preventive and progressive IPM-approved pest management approach.
Because the material is blown into attics and walls, it leaves no gaps, the manufacturer says. "TAP provides pest control properties and simply caps what's already in place in the attic bringing it to the recommended R-value," said Paul Hardy Sr., technical director for Orkin. "The only tool the technician has to carry to sell the service is knowledge of the benefits of borates and a ruler to measure current insulation." Hardy had a major role in the development and testing of TAP.
A Green Add-On. "TAP is the only insecticide with an Energy Star label from the U.S. EPA for its part in protecting America's vital energy reserve," said Bill Turk, owner of TAP. "It is more effective than the cheaper but widely used glass fiber in all aspects. Simply, it takes less energy to make TAP, it takes less energy to heat and cool homes with TAP, and it presents no environmental hazard if ever removed." TAP's pesticidal properties are designed to ensure that insect pest problems in the attic and walls will be virtually eliminated. The insulation contains 87 percent recovered paper (mostly newsprint), compared to glass fiber that contains only 0 to 20 percent recycled content.
Paper, especially newsprint, is a major component of residential waste and a significant disposal problem for communities throughout the U.S. "Installing TAP in a 1,500-square-foot, new, ranch-style home productively recycles as much newsprint as a family will consume in 40 years," said Turk. "It not only recycles but removes it from the waste stream permanently." Turk says the product meets nearly all of the requirements of a "green" product, including that it's made of recycled materials and has a low-toxicity insecticide. "We developed this product primarily as a unique and effective method of pest control with insulation as the delivery system," Turk explained.
Easy to Sell. According to U.S. Department of Energy estimates, most older homes are under-insulated. Meanwhile PMPs confirm that attics harbor many different insects. PMPs are in a unique position to determine if a home is under-insulated and then educate customers about the dual benefit of adding high-performance insulation that also contains a borate-based pest control. PMPs often find that once they explain the control benefits of TAP to their under-insulated customers, the product virtually sells itself, Turk says.
As insulation, TAP is about 32 percent more efficient than glass fiber insulations. "We have 25 technicians inspecting attics every day, who are finding that houses built before 1980 usually have an R-19, which is far below what the Department of Energy recommends," said Craig Thomas, Craig Thomas Pest Control, Hyde Park, N.Y. "So it is a good business for us and our customers. And our employees benefit too, because it keeps our staff busy in the colder months."
Jeff Annis of Advanced Services in the Atlanta area says one question sells the insulation: "Do you want to be protected from pests and save on your energy bills?"
"TAP is a one-time expense for the homeowner that recoups the cost forever," Annis observes. "We also find that when technicians measure the current insulation, they often discover other problems like bats or squirrels in the attic. So the insulation service increases our value in the minds of our customers."
TAP saves homeowners money by decreasing energy bills, keeping buildings cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. While warm air moves readily through porous insulations such as rock and glass fibers, TAP's increased density slows this convective heat transfer. And, Turk notes, since there are no leaks and drafts associated with TAP insulation, heating and cooling systems don't cycle as often or as long, saving consumers money.
A Profitable Add-on. Hardy said a 40- to 50-percent profit margin is possible with TAP insulation services sold to existing customers. Though it is a one-time purchase, companies who sell the service to new customers continually grow their profits. While insulation is a fairly common add-on business, TAP's insecticial qualities distinguish it from traditional insulation.
To learn more about TAP insulation, visit www.tapinsulation.com or call 866/284-7247.
The author owns Compelling Communications, a marketing firm based in Manchester, Mo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.