One of the most difficult aspects of introducing new technology to any industry is getting “buy-in.” Embracing change takes time, vision, opportunity, and trial and error. Once those boxes are checked off, potential customers still must consider the potential financial investment.
Electronic rodent monitoring (ERM) systems have been in development for years and now many have made it to the market and are being used by the industry. PMPs who are using ERM are continuing to find methods to best sell the product and its benefits to end-user clients.
South Carolina pest expert Critter McCool says the key to getting customers to embrace the cost of new technology is making sure they see the added value in using it.
“My clients understand that I won’t need to run out every time a trap is activated so we can work together hand-in-hand to get our plan implemented as best as possible,” McCool said. “It’s about having a partnership together. Plus, the transparency is really a huge part of it. They know what I’m doing and how much I’m providing and that’s important.”
While the commercial sector has many possibilities, Franklin Hernandez, owner of Miami-based NaturePest Control, said he doesn’t see this technology being as beneficial to residential customers.
“The biggest reason would be cost of implementation obviously, where a rodent situation in a home after it's been assessed, rats have been removed and exclusion has been performed, there's no further need for it,” Hernandez said. “However, in a large commercial application, such as a food-processing plant, the problems are always present and the need for continuous monitoring and inspection is essential to any IPM process.”
But the selling points are pretty obvious, Hernandez added. “Since it is an electronic device its present 24/7 unlike a technician that would have to be there physically to assess the situation. The technician would be alerted as soon as a rodent is detected, he would know the exact location of that rodent, and it would reduce labor cost by inspections.”
Finding the right approach to selling ERM systems is critical, says Joe Belcher, Midwest and international sales manager of Iowa-based Kness.
“That’s realistically the ‘million dollar question.’ Every company has a different aspect of how to help do a job from tracking to reporting to time saving to labor saving to callbacks to efficiencies in visits. That’s the hard thing I think we’re all finding the perfect approach I don’t think there is one yet because we all feel perfectly different. I do know I’ve talked to hundreds of customers and they all say, ‘I can see it helping me.’"
Pricing and customer approval will be the key to getting it used by mainstream clients as a regular tool, says Todd Leyse, president and CEO of Minnesota’s Adam’s Pest Control.
“It can be a challenge because it is a change and people need to get their head around new technologies,” Leyse said. “You need to demonstrate and tell them about it and how it works, maybe even at no charge for a short period of time. But if you are not charging for callbacks there isn’t a lot of incentive for them to not say ‘come back.’”
By providing real-time data, ERM essentially will in many cases create real-time callbacks. So PMPs need to be on the same page with their customers.
“Accounts need to price it for sensors and cost of callbacks,” Leyse added. “If the customer recognizes the trap was activated and wants it gone within four hours and not during regular service, that’s something you need to work with on a customer-by-customer basis and stick with it.”
Providing ERM data is a new service so there needs to be a pricing structure that accommodates all parties.
“I think data is a big part of it. We know the rodent was caught, how it got in and to be able to have that quick response if it is a client that needs more attention than others,” said Caroline Kirby, training coordinator, Plunkett’s Pest Control. “Presumably if you know more information, that gives you time to work on that cockroach issue or just do more for that facility.
“Getting client buy-in (is critical),” she added, saying there are many questions that have yet to be answered by the industry. “Am I going to run out every time a mouse is caught? Is it going to cost the same or more? What’s this service look like?”