Being at the right place at the right time and with the right service is advantageous in business. And when that service provides peace of mind and protection for consumers, all the better.
Jacob Cohn of Arrow Termite and Pest Control in Baton Rouge, La., found himself in just such a position two years ago in the aftermath of three days of constant rain — 20 inches in some areas — when more than 100,000 homes in and around the city were flooded.
In addition to working with customers to replace the loss of protective barriers for termites and other pests, Arrow was able to assist Baton Rouge home and business owners tackle another serious threat that came about as a result of the flooding — mold.
“Being a termite company we understood the relationship between moisture and pests,” says Cohn. “We also knew of the dangers mold presents and how high moisture levels can promote its development in a structure.”
Fortunately for Arrow, a third-generation company founded by Cohn’s grandfather in Monroe, La., in 1958, Cohn’s father had the foresight to secure a license to perform mold remediation work in Louisiana.
“We secured the license following Hurricane Katrina when we were faced with the prospect of losing customers and not having enough work for our employees,” Cohn said. “It puts us in a unique position to offer a valuable service to our customers.”
Rockford, Tenn.-based Nisus Corporation also realized there was an opportunity to deliver a valuable service to its pest management customers and much-needed assistance to home and business owners who were desperate to start putting their lives back together after the flooding.
The company conducted seminars in Baton Rouge for pest management professionals to learn about wood-destroying organisms, wood treatments, tips to reapplying termite treatments and how to properly apply its product, Bora-Care with Mold-Care.
“After flooding, mold and wood decay are the first problems to show up,” says Jim Gorman, vice president of marketing for Nisus. “Mold grows deep into wood and just using bleach won’t eliminate it.”
Arrow was already treating structures for termites and wood-destroying organisms with Bora-Care and the product’s Mold-Care feature allowed them to offer a dual protective service.
“It’s a little sad to be good at something after a disaster,” says Cohn. “But the service does eliminate the mold threat, reestablishes wood protection and provides homeowners a valuable service at a time they need it most.”
RIGHT SERVICE FOR YOU? The elimination of moisture to prevent pests is a proven strategy in any pest control program. But is expanding into mold remediation and protection a business model that can be done easily?
Gorman and Cohn agree that an extreme natural disaster doesn’t have to take place in order for PMPs to add mold services and that PMPs are in a position to add disinfecting, stain removal, mold remediation and wood decay treatment, and odor control services.
Cohn says the first thing pest professionals need to do is check with the regulatory agency in their state that oversees mold remediation and secure the proper licenses to perform the work.
They also need to contact their insurance carrier and make sure they are covered to add this service. They also need to invest time and resources in mold-remediation training for their employees.
“Are you guaranteeing for mold remediation or wood sanitization?” says Cohn. “What do your marketing materials say? All this has to be reviewed before you offer the service.”
Timing is also important in the sales and treatment process for mold services. Too often contractors — at the urging of anxious homeowners and to knock out as many jobs as possible in a short period of time — will reinstall drywall before moisture levels on walls and wood studs have dropped to an acceptable level, and the proper sanitation and remediation work completed.
Cohn says PMPs must have full access to a structure (i.e., before walls are sealed up) to make a complete and proper treatment of Bora-Care with Mold-Care. For maximum performance, the wood should be sanitized and slightly wet (since moist does help the product penetrate and kill existing mold and prevent future mold growth and wood decay).
Cohn says educating home-owners and contractors — even in stressful times — also is important. Arrow shares resources on a dedicated page on its website (https://www.arrowtermiteandpestcontrol.com/flood-information/) that details what consumers need to know about mold and what solutions are available. “There is an accountability that comes with offering this service and many variables come into play but if do your homework you shouldn’t be afraid of adding something new to your lineup,” he says.
TO DO LIST. What follows are things to think about before adding mold remediation services to your service offerings:
- Only licensed PMPs can apply Bora-Care products to a structure. Check your state’s licensing requirements to determine the scope of work you can legally provide and what certifications and training are required.
- Look to form working agreements with builders and contractors to build your network of contacts.
- Check with your insurance carrier to make sure you are covered to perform mold remediation treatments.
- Know the difference between mold remediation and wood treatments: remediation includes very specific services, including testing ambient air both before and after treatment.
- Review your marketing materials and customer agreements to make sure they accurately spell out what services you are guaranteeing.
- Make sure technicians performing the work have the proper training and equipment (i.e., application techniques, how to properly use moisture meters, identifying conducive conditions for mold, etc.).