The conventional theory of technological adoption is that an innovation will have early adopters, followed by acceptance and use by the early majority, then the late majority, and finally, the “laggards.” Having only recently become available to the pest control industry, and little known outside the industry, rodent fertility baits fall squarely under this theory. As such, it can be a greater challenge for the PMP to communicate the need for and value of this rodent control method than, say, telling your client to put out a few more traps or add another block of bait.
So how do you communicate this new option with your customers? How do you overcome the expected hesitancy or skepticism of a new innovation? Most importantly, how do you sell the early adopters and move the majority (and laggards) up the scale to “Yes”? Following are some communication tips and techniques:
1. Detail the difference. While some customers will not care how you get rid of their rodents as long as you get rid of them, others are concerned with animal welfare – for any and all animals. Discussing the non-lethal, humane aspects of contraceptive control will give these customers an option to control their rodent issues with the unwanted lethality.
2. Discuss the value. PMPs have seen a visible reduction in rats within two months of fertility control bait placement. At that point, the baiting can be continued twice monthly for best results, but monthly or quarterly checks can also be of benefit. In fact, one of the greatest values of fertility control is that, with an ongoing maintenance program, PMPs have had rat sightings – and customer complaints – completely disappear, rather than simply decrease.
3. Ensure your client understands the timeframe. Similar to the use of cockroach baits, the use of fertility control can take longer to initially reduce the pest population. This makes it of utmost importance that timeframes be discussed with your customers, to include options for the use of fertility control alone or with other methods – to always also include IPM.
4. Explain the (lack of) rebound effect. With traditional rodent control, populations can decline quickly, but if the rodents are not completely eradicated and future infestations prevented, the survivors and any immigrants can “rebound” back to the initial population size. With fertility control, the process can be slower, but it will be more long-term, as any rodents that remain will not be able to reproduce.
5. Discuss the long-term advantages. Because the rodents can’t breed to enable a continuing population, fertility control eventually becomes a permanent solution. Through the natural life cycle, the colony will become extinct, making the method cost effective over time.
6. Cite referrals and studies. Following are just a few:
• It is the most humane way to control your rodent residents. We want to allow them to exist without the consequence of babies. We are so thankful to have found this product.
• One residential customer took to social media, posting the success on websites for the humane treatment of animals. They want to get the word out so neighbors and communities can work together on controlling rat populations effectively and humanely.
• At commercial locations, rats have gone from number one on the top three pest complaints to not even showing up on the list.
• The public views contraceptives as a positive alternative to other management tools. and managers are increasingly being forced to become active partners with the public in developing practical applications for this technology.
• Through fertility interruption and trapping combined, we eliminated the rat problems within a year for some homeowners’ associations that had been plagued with rats for years. They are happy to have tried fertility control.