PMPs: Essential in More Ways Than One

Departments - Pest Perspectives

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April 13, 2020

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What a crazy start to a year! 2020 is shaping up to be one we remember for a long time. It may even change how we go about our daily lives. Like major events of the past, this one will likely change us in some unique ways.

ESSENTIAL SERVICE. We must remember that what we do is important. Some see us as “just the bug man/woman,” but they haven’t been educated to understand the important role pest management plays in global public health. I’m going to touch on two services that really highlight this role and I encourage you to talk with all your customers, both residential and commercial, about the role you play in this effort. Not only will they begin to value your service more, they’ll begin to understand how the pieces fit together to bring food to the table or to prevent disease from pest vectors. It might even help them make a decision and the next time they have to cut a service for some reason, they may just choose to keep you.

COCKROACHES. We have all been in the recertification class where the instructor babbles on about cockroaches mechanically transporting pathogens from one surface to another. I’m one of those instructors. Sorry, sometimes it’s tough to make the topic interesting! When we consider the fact that these pathogens can cause a variety of different medical situations (in this case, a situation that really is the kind you NEED to stock up on toilet paper for), then we must take it seriously. Consider the fact that many people have compromised immune systems in some way. These pathogens or the illnesses they cause can make people very sick, or in some cases, die. Yes, sanitation will help as well, and we should continue to preach it, but eliminate the vector and you break the cycle down. Your service is essential.

RODENTS. Rodents are both interesting and gross. (They aren’t much different than people. Don’t believe me? Why are we having to remind people to wash their hands?) Rodents produce oil from their skin, sebum, just like the oil that makes your hair greasy. That oil on their hair and skin helps to collect pathogens from their environment. In addition, their hair, feces and urine can contaminate surfaces or air. Yes, washing your hands after touching contaminated surfaces is good and we need to be washing our hands at the end of every service (make it a practice) in addition to not touching our faces so much. Ridding rodents from our living and working spaces helps to keep surfaces clean and food from damage. We could go on and on about other reasons (like causing a fire via chewing)but we don’t need to. Your service is essential.

FINAL THOUGHTS. These are just two examples. I’m sure you can think of more. Mosquitoes, ants, stinging insects, wildlife…the list goes on. Protection of customer spaces from pathogens is essential. You are essential.

As an industry, we need to position ourselves as essential all the time. The fact that we have had to make this a campaign during this pandemic brings to light that we have done a poor job of marketing ourselves as essential to this point. It should be a primary focus moving forward to inform, market or discuss (whatever you want to call it) our services at both the national and local levels so that we are seen as essential from the start. We need to be ahead of the curve.

Educate your customers, your friends and random people in elevators about the role you play daily. Don’t be the “bug person,” be the essential defender of public health.

The author is senior technical services manager at Rollins in Atlanta.