PCT talked to several PMPs to get their perspective and recommendations on offering mosquito control services. Combined, they represent more than 700 technicians conducting services. They’ve been offering mosquito services anywhere from 1 to 8 years, with one offering mosquito knockdown fogging services for more than 20 years.
All of the companies offer mosquito control services as an independent, add-on service. Some train all of their technicians to perform the service so that they can provide services on their existing routes. Here's what they had to say:It’s time to offer mosquito control services!
Is it time to expand your services to include mosquito control? Here’s what three PMPs had to say:
“It’s an opportunity awaiting you!”
“This is absolutely a good time to offer the service.”
Need we say more?
Although media attention on the Zika and West Nile viruses may wane, the public awareness remains high and the public is asking for—demanding—mosquito control services. People, especially those with children, are concerned about their health. People are more educated and understand that, among other things, it may be better to treat their yards than spray repellent on themselves.
There may be more competition now that there’s greater customer demand, but when customers begin asking for a service, it’s something to seriously consider. It’s beneficial to the public and your customers, and it’s an opportunity to grow your business. “It’s a great add-on—a revenue generator that our customers craved.”
Similarity and differences from other pest control services
Approach mosquito control with the same thoroughness as your traditional services, although there are a few differences.
• Initial property inspection is very important to identify potential breeding and resting sites.
• Mosquito control is different, because it’s all outside. There’s no need for the customer to be home. This makes it even more important to communicate with your customers.
• It can be more profitable than other services.
• Services and revenue are seasonal.
• It’s directed at one target pest, although the same products also will help control additional pests, such as ticks.
Do your research before launching your new mosquito control service. One PMP shared that they looked into the equipment, techniques, and chemistry being used by the World Health Organization in developing countries for mosquito control to help them determine what would be effective in their service areas.
It’s always good to learn from those who have previously traveled the same path to avoid the pitfalls they’ve encountered—hopefully. Here are some of the biggest lessons other PMPs have learned as they began conducting mosquito control services, as well as recommendations for you to get started on the right foot.
Equipment. Research your equipment options to help you invest in what’s efficient and effective for you and your customers’ needs. Consider equipment cost, average yard size, the presence of standing water, and foliage density, among others.
Products. Talk to manufacturers of mosquito control products. They’re the best resource for information you have.
Build relationships. Those manufacturers you talked with to get more information, maintain those relationships. Continue to reach out to PMPs to get their advice as you begin and grow your mosquito services.
Investment. Develop a list of equipment and products you’ll need then run the numbers. Consider equipment, maintenance, chemicals, labor, fuel, and such. Are mosquito control services cost effective for your operation?
Know the competition. Research companies in your area offering mosquito services, what they offer, and their prices.
Pricing. Calculate a profitable price point for your market and look at how it compares to competitors’ pricing.
Double-up services. Conduct mosquito control services while performing other services to keep costs down and hold your price point.
Determine your value proposition. Differentiate your services from others. There may be a lot of competition in your market and you’ll need to set yourself apart.
Don’t market fear. Don’t use scare tactics to market mosquito services. People already know the risks associated with mosquitos. That’s probably why they called you.
Listen to improve. Continually look for ways to improve your service by listening to customers’ and technicians’ feedback. It’ll help you successfully grow your mosquito services.
Know the rules. Look into, and stay current with, federal, state, and local laws and regulations effecting mosquito control services. They can change quickly.
Biggest lessons learned
It’s always good to learn from those who have previously traveled the same path to avoid the pitfalls they’ve encountered—hopefully. Here are some of the biggest lessons other PMPs have learned as they began conducting mosquito control services, as well as recommendations on getting started.
Here’s what PMPs had to say when asked about the biggest lessons learned in the process of adding mosquito control.
• Always carefully read product labels and use the product as directed.
• Conduct a thorough initial inspection.
• Ensure you have more mosquito-dedicated personnel during peak season.
• You may need to conduct more training than you think.
• Keep up with all, ever-changing rules and regulations, particularly the EPA.
• Clearly communicate with customers to manage their expectations. They may expect every last mosquito to be exterminated. It’s your responsibility to help them understand that the goal is population reduction, not elimination.
The cost of entry into mosquito control services can be rather low. “A route can be started for around $500 if you don’t hire for specific mosquito routes.” Except for product, you already may have everything you need. Another PMP said they would invest $1,000–2,000. Some already had backpack sprayers, so there were no initial equipment investments.
Backpack mister/sprayers are the equipment of choice for mosquito control and will likely be your largest investment. “Backpack sprayers are key. They allow the applicator free range and allow for thorough treatment.” Backpack sprayers are available in the $300–600 range.
“Depending on how many PMPs you’re having service your mosquito business and initial startup, I would start with 1 or 2 [backpack sprayers].” Equipment breaks down, so have a spare backpack sprayer or two on hand. One PMP suggested purchasing two sprayers for every technician.
Although truck-mounted equipment is an option, especially for larger areas, consider it down the line after your mosquito service is more established. “You need to consider if buying a truck right off the bat is a smart investment—an investment that will sit during the off months.”
Products essential to have on hand include a “chemical knockdown with residual,” an insect growth regulator (IGR), and some form of larvicide. Chemical costs can be as low $5–7 for an average-sized yard.
Technician qualification and training
Technician training is critical. It leads to more effective service and higher customer satisfaction. Training should include:
• Mosquito biology and lifecycle.
• How to treat during the various lifecycle stages.
• Adult mosquito behavior.
• How to conduct a thorough initial and pre-treatment inspection.
• Appropriate product usage—“chemical stewardship.”
• Identifying all standing water.
• Identifying breeding and resting sites.
• Differentiation between edible and non-edible plants—when in doubt, consider it an edible.
• Protecting potential honey bee foraging areas.
• How to establish customer understanding that “mosquito control isn’t about elimination, it’s about lowering the numbers.”