As with any pest, there are a host of variables that can interfere with product efficacy — and there’s a balance to strike with “the customer’s always right.” (Check out Curbing Callbacks.) So, is offering a warranty or guarantee an inroad to peace of mind that will win client loyalty? Or, is it an invitation to retreat and lose money on services?
There are two schools of thought.
Chris Brennan has been in business for 39 years and runs Brennan’s Pest Control in Oak Park, Ill. He estimates that about 30 percent of his overall revenue comes from treating ants, and he uses an à la carte approach. If he gets a call about ants, he deals with the ants. If a homeowner wants a quarterly program, he’ll offer it — but he does not generally sell a package. And, he never offers warranties.
“I’ve always viewed it as a crazy thing to do in our industry,” he says. “We are dealing with biological issues, and there are customers who are not cooperative when it comes to cleaning or managing their environments. There are structural issues, for instance. A house can have a crumbling foundation. I tell customers, ‘I’ll do the best I can for you.’”
He also is honest about whether the ant situation will require more than one treatment or ongoing pest management. “Sometimes one service is sufficient, and other times the house needs follow-ups and we determine that in the com
ing weeks. A house needs what it needs.”
Other PMPs find that a warranty gives customers confidence that they can trust the service. Christopher O’Brien, owner of Scorpion Specialists in Phoenix, Ariz., says 60 percent of his clients have ant problems. He offers a six-month warranty on a new exterior red fire ant control. “If a customer is just having us bait, we offer a 30-day warranty,” he says. There are no stipulations on the exterior warranty — he will re-treat for free if the client calls before six months is over — but inside, customers have to clean and do their part or the callback is not free. “The gel ant baits work really good and I’ve never had a callback on them,” he adds.
Bobbie Terry is owner of The Bug Lady in Austin, Texas, and founder of Women in Pest Control. She offers a 30-day warranty on services. “I’ll come back and re-treat at no charge,” she says of the policy.
How often does she have to make good on the warranty? “Hardly ever.”
“Whether I do a special or ongoing treatment, customers sign an agreement that states if I find sanitation or structural issues, they are responsible for correcting those problems — and if they don’t, I can charge for a re-treat,” Terry says.