In today’s competitive environment two things set your business apart: fast, efficient customer service and great technology.
Mark Hitchings, Eastern Sales Manager with Brother Mobile Solutions, explains how Brother is making it possible for businesses large and small to have the latest technology — always.
Meeting customer demands in today’s changing business world is challenging, especially in the competitive pest control industry. Serving customers at the point of service with clear documentation is critical and mobile printing plays a key role. Hitchings offers perspective on this important topic.
1. What are the top challenges in the pest control industry today?
The pest control industry today is highly competitive. There are many providers from which customers can choose, so it’s important for pest management companies to establish their brand by providing fast and efficient customer service. Meeting strict regulatory compliance guidelines to ensure safety is also critical. These challenges are driving the demand for technician efficiency and productivity in service delivery for residential and commercial customers.
2. What are the benefits mobile printing delivers to pest control technicians in the field?
A new generation of mobile printing devices provide clear benefits to pest control technicians, such as the ability to print documents on-demand at the point of service. Rugged mobile printers can withstand the harsh demands of field service work so documents and compliance information can be printed anywhere they are needed. Mobile printers also improve accuracy by eliminating the need for handwriting which is prone to errors.
3. What type of documents are printed at the point of service in pest control?
The types of documents pest control technicians print when serving residential or commercial customers include leave-behinds such as: statements of work, invoices, service tickets and a variety of compliance documents including inspection reports, warning labels, specific details of the pesticides or other chemicals used.
4. What key features should pest control providers look for when selecting mobile printers?
To meet the demands of the job, mobile printers should be compact, rugged and print either receipts or offer full-page printing capability. The devices should seamlessly connect to smartphones or laptops via AirPrint® or Bluetooth® technology. It’s important that these portable printers have good battery capacity or other power supply and easily fit in vehicles, shoulder bags, or ruggedized carry cases for mobile pest technicians. Choosing thermal printers eliminates the need to deal with ink or toners plus offers the flexibility to print in hot or cold environments.
5. How can Hardware-as-a- Service (HaaS) deliver benefits to pest companies when they need to acquire mobile technology?
In today’s challenging times, pest control, like many industries, may struggle to get technology projects approved due to cash flow or budget issues. HaaS is an easy way for these organizations to get the most advanced mobile printing technology into their technicians’ hands so they can best support customers. HaaS procurement moves the purchase from a capital expense to an operating expense — so there is no stress on the bottom line.
*The Brother Shift & Print Subscription Service (HaaS) is subject to credit approval.
Ticks are a growing threat to our public health system. As pest professionals, we have an opportunity to help our customers stay safe. Joe Barile, Technical Service Lead at Bayer, shares what you need to know about ticks and how to treat them.
1. Why should PMPs consider a tick service?
Ticks, regardless of where you live, bring serious health threats to your customers’ doorsteps. Tick service is an opportunity to grow your business while serving the public. Pest management professionals can provide an effective management service at great value to homeowners and property managers.
2. What environments are most conducive to breeding ticks?
Most ticks thrive in shady outdoor sites with a leaf-litter substrate under a foliage canopy. We typically find this environment just outside the border of managed landscapes. This “tick zone” area is the native environment of ticks’ first blood hosts, deer mice, chipmunks, ground squirrels and voles.
3. How do I treat for ticks?
Start by inspecting the property for conditions that are conducive to the tick-host relationship. Lawns and turf should be healthy and trimmed. Eliminate any clutter and stored items that provide shelter for tick-hosts. Treatments with labeled acaracides should be targeted to the “tick-zones” and areas where pets may frequent and rest. Unless treating for specific species, broadcast lawn treatments are not necessary.
4. Is there a specific product that Bayer recommends?
Labeled liquid concentrates from Bayer are effective and will provide residual control. A more convenient treatment is our DeltaGard G granular formulation. This low-dust granule can be effectively applied with hand-held spreaders very quickly with no extended re-entry period. Field trial data has demonstrated very impressive residual control from this formulation.
5. Should I plan on renewing the service every year?
Yes. Ticks’ end-hosts (deer, coyotes, skunks, raccoons) are the “re- infestation engine.” After mating on their hosts, gravid females drop from the host animal to lay her eggs (hundreds to thousands). Even in urban areas these animals will re-introduce ticks on properties continually.
More than half (51 percent) of PMPs expect revenue from tick control services to increase in 2020, found the PCT 2020 State of the Tick Control Market survey.
“We’ve gotten more calls than we have in the past about (tick control) and a lot more clients are adding that on,” said Cassi Magnus, Phoenix Pest and Wildlife Control.
A-Action Pest Control expected revenue from its yard treatment program to increase by 30 percent. “We’re forecasting a strong year in all areas of pest control but ticks especially coming out of the gate,” said Adam Ring.
By early April, John Vollmer of Tick Ranger already had gained 900 new customers and he had yet to advertise his service for this season. His biggest challenge: finding enough staff to do the work. “That would be our hurdle,” he said.
The mild winter will boost tick populations this year. “They’ve already started; they’re already bad,” reported Sherry Tallent, A & A Pest Control, Cuba, Mo., in early April.
“Once the temperatures get up and over 45 (degrees), especially if you’ve got bright sunshine, the ticks are going to be active,” explained Vollmer.
Customers are noticing the ticks because they’re spending more time in the yard due to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. Kids are playing outdoors because they’re not in school; people are gardening since they’re furloughed and can’t leave the property.
“The phone’s been ringing off the hook. People want to protect their yards even more so because they’re home and they’re actually seeing these ticks. They want us there yesterday,” said David Whitman, Connecticut Tick Control.
Vollmer, who expected his business to grow to 9,500 customers in 2020, agreed: “They’re all on virus alert. People don’t want the coronavirus and then have Lyme.”
According to the PCT 2020 State of the Tick Control Market survey, 41 percent of PMPs said customers were concerned about the public health risks associated with ticks. Cli ents with children and pets were most likely to call for tick control, they reported in follow-up interviews.
“There’s more reference to ticks in the news and media. Folks are pretty alert to the diseases they carry, of course Lyme disease being the most popular of those diseases,” said Adam Ring, A-Action Pest Control, of public awareness in his market.
In fact, 45 percent of PMPs said they have customers or technicians who have been diagnosed with Lyme disease. “We’ve had several customers inform us that they have contracted Lyme disease, so we know it’s there and they know it’s there,” said Ring.
More than a third (36 percent) of PMPs believe the industry has done an effective job communicating the public health risks associated with ticks, while an almost equal amount — 34 percent — are not sure of this, found the survey.
Setting clear expectations for tick control is a communications challenge. “The fact that we perform a treatment doesn’t mean that they’ll never experience another tick encounter,” explained Ring.
And if a customer contracts a tickborne disease while under contract, she could claim your company screwed up, pointed out Todd Leyse, Adam’s Pest Control. “It hasn’t happened, but it could. You wonder if it is worth it,” he said of the risk of offering this service. The PCT survey found 14 percent of companies don’t offer tick control due to liability concerns.
As well, PMPs rely on customers to cut the grass, trim bushes and weeds, and remove leaf litter that harbor ticks to successfully achieve control. “We’re not really getting to the source without their cooperation,” Ring explained.
Sometimes communication falls on deaf ears. “We try to educate as much as possible but there’s always going to be the person that knows better. We definitely deal a lot with that out here,” said Cassi Magnus, Phoenix Pest and Wildlife Control, of customers in her region.
Employee health is another consideration. Most PMPs (62 percent) do not require technicians to apply a repellent to their body or clothing prior to performing a tick control treatment.
The technicians at Arkadia — Eco Pest Control are instructed to wear repellent, pants, long-sleeve shirts, gloves, even to tuck pants into socks. “They’re putting themselves at risk, so they have to take the proper safety precautions,” said Mark Constantino. Even so, employees sometimes have ticks on them after a day in the field, he said.