Retaining & Gaining Customers

Features - Add-On Services

Today’s customers want hassle-free, one-stop shopping for their pest control services. What do you need to know to get started offering additional services?

June 19, 2018

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Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in a PCT e-newsletter titled “Add-On Services,” which was sponsored by Univar.

With the hectic pace of today’s world and the ability of technology to simplify their lives, today’s customers want their retail and service needs to be met as simply and hassle-free as possible. Whether seeking a product or service for home or commercial use, they don’t want to deal with a number of different providers. Most want to consolidate as much as possible and work with a limited number of knowledgeable, experienced professionals whom they can trust to take care of whatever needs to be addressed in their home.

This is particularly true with businesses such as pest control, since some homeowners have become accustomed to having one provider for several related services. They’d like to work with a company that can take care of their general pest control needs as well as periphery services, such as rodents, birds, wildlife, mosquitoes, bed bugs, or turf and ornamental services.

Palm Springs Pest Control provides customers with termite, bed bug, bird, bee and lawn and landscape services, said Owner/President Carlos Campos. The company began with general pest control services, then gradually added on. “The first step was to do pest control, then we added landscape, then termites,” he said. Why? “Because that’s what the customer needed. Every time we serviced, they asked about their plants and what was killing them.”

Providing add-on services has been significant in both retaining customers and gaining new ones. “It is a big factor in retaining customers. We offer a variety of services to core customers and get referrals because we are able to provide more services than just pest control,” Campos said.

The add-on services have also made Palm Spring Pest Control more competitive in its marketplace. “It helps in a very positive way because we don’t let companies walk away from us to go to another company that has a service,” he said. And it has led to positive growth as well, with Campos stating that business and profits have increased every year.

WHAT TO OFFER? Mosquito services have been an area that PCOs have found to be of benefit in gaining and retaining customers, particularly in areas where mosquito-borne diseases are a threat. “The Zika scare is driving everyone to think outside the box,” said Univar Public Health Industry Specialist Jason Conrad. Not only is it a service that a PCO can add with minimal cost, but often the same products and equipment can also be used for other public health vector control, such as fleas and ticks.

“I think mosquito control is great for any size company — you are going out to the customer anyway, so you will just be adding only 15 to 20 minutes for mosquito control,” Conrad said.

There also are times that current service can be expanded into an add-on. For example, you may already be providing bed bug services — but can you provide a fumigation option? Even though it is just a small part of its business used only when needed, Collins Pest Management has significantly increased its profits by adding this service with the help of Univar Industry Specialist Jeremy Jackson, who has helped more than 30 pest control companies go into bed bug fumigation service. “I’ve seen companies get a 600 to 700 percent return on investment within six months with bed bug fumigation,” Jackson said.

President Dan Collins said, “I got into commercial fumigation because my competition did it. I try to use IPM first, but sometimes you have to go beyond that. So, I added fumigation as a back-up for those situations where there’s no other answer.”

Because the company focuses almost exclusively on commercial business, Collins has found that he is able to work with other local pest control companies rather than compete with them. When a PCO is faced with a residential bed bug problem that cannot be eliminated by traditional means (such as extremely cluttered homes or apartments of hoarders), it can call Collins for the fumigation, receive a finder’s fee and retain the rest of the residential business. Collins also will refer residential customers to the companies who refer fumigation business to him.

Bed bug fumigation can be an expensive business to add on since it requires an investment in equipment, insurance and training. And it comes with certain restrictions and regulations that the PCO needs to understand ahead of time. But, Collins said, “It is very profitable once you make the investment.”

Intertec Pest Control Owner/President Greg Parker also has seen significant growth adding bed bug fumigation to his service offerings. Even with its higher start-up cost, Intertec’s first year revenue on the service was $190,000, he said. (See related story on page 69.)

This service also can be a higher expense than many customers can afford in a lump payment. But rather than losing those customers or having to wait on split payments himself, Parker contracted with a financial services company with whom customers could finance the service and make regular payments. “I can’t really afford to do it myself, so customers can go to our website and link to the financial company,” he said.

For the vast array of add-on services for which Univar provides assistance, “we’re seeing success across the board,” Conrad said. In fact, it’s not uncommon for an add-on service to increase a PCO’s annual revenue by 30 to 35 percent in a year, he said. “And if you start out and are not doing well, we will help,” Conrad added.

Campos recommends that pest control companies include add-on services from the very start. “If you decide to become an independent operator, you have to go all the way — pest control, termites, landscape,” he said. “You’ll be able to help your customers and have a successful business. Customers like that they can hire one company to do everything.”