Avoiding callbacks requires some teaching on the behalf of the PMP. Otherwise, clients can unwittingly sabotage a treatment. “With ants, you have to get the customer involved,” says Derek Salazar, owner, FullScope Pest Control, Kingwood, Texas.
“When you find out they’ve had a problem for some time, you have to set expectations as far as letting them know that it’s not necessarily going to be solved in one visit, one treatment,” Salazar adds.
Salazar advises clients to reduce leaf litter around the home and watch for damaged wood that can harbor carpenter ants and other insects. “Not having branches of trees touching the structure can prevent carpenter ants,” he says, relating that providing this information to customers engages them in the process and increases their accountability, therefore reducing callbacks.
The cleaning products clients use inside can interfere with baiting success, so Salazar makes them aware of that. “Using standard bleach wipes on a countertop can interrupt pheromone trails. Then you get a splitting effect, and it’s hard to find out how they are trailing,” he says.
Scheduling a follow-up visit 10 to 14 days after treating a robust infestation also can reduce callbacks, Salazar adds. “Sometimes, you have to be proactive vs. waiting for them to call you,” he says.
Also important is helping clients understand that baiting takes time. “You have to give the ants time to accept the bait and bring it back to the colony,” says Tony Esposito, owner, The Bug Reaper, Katy, Texas. “We tell customers, ‘You have to give it at least a week. Don’t expect results the next day.’ If you educate people, they seem to be OK with that. It’s all about being on the same page.”
In commercial kitchens, Esposito works directly with general managers, and food and beverage managers. “I go in and pull out refrigeration units and take pictures,” he says, adding that he’s been known to show a manager the spray wand he uses to treat and point out: “This is not a magic wand. You have to help me.” He adds: “Ants aren’t going to eat my bait if they can eat fajitas instead.”
He also shows them how effective products can be with compliance. Showing product efficacy also can go a long way toward encouraging accountability and preventing callbacks. Once, he recorded a video of an ant trail moving bait granules back to their colony. “I showed it to the homeowners and they could literally see the granules moving.”