Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in a PCT e-newsletter titled “Targeting Bed Bugs,” which was sponsored by MGK.
For years, pest management professionals looked for ways to turn one-and-done bed bug jobs into a recurring revenue stream. That dream is becoming reality with the introduction of new chemical control products that combat bed bug resistance and deliver long-term residuals.
PMPs weighed in on why proactive bed bug control makes sense right now:
1. You can provide greater peace of mind.
Even after successful treatment to eliminate bed bugs, Tom Sieminski, owner of Team Pest Control in Sayville, N.Y., felt bad leaving customers who continued to worry about the pest’s potential return.
He wanted to offer a preventive service but “the labels of the materials that were available weren’t very friendly to that idea.” More recently, he’s found a product that has three active ingredients and offers long-lasting residual control. He’s since introduced a quarterly proactive service with a one-year guarantee.
Proactive service also helps protect the reputations of hospitality clients, where even one bed bug episode shared on social media can cause a significant loss in revenue.
2. You can better protect sensitive populations.
Ted Lieb, sales manager at Gillen Pest Control in Richmond, Texas, was performing reactive bed bug control at a state school for the disabled. Prepping rooms and moving residents to temporary housing during treatment was particularly stressful for staff and this sensitive population. “It creates panic when they have to do emergency treatments on bed bugs,” said Lieb.
As well, Lieb was noticing minor resistance issues with the bed bugs. This meant more time was needed to get infestations under control, further delaying a return to normalcy for the facility’s residents.
After using a product with multiple modes of action, Lieb then implemented a monthly monitoring program to catch reintroductions early. “If they do get bed bugs it’s a lot less aggressive treatment and so you end up with less downtime and not having to move as many people around,” he said.
3. You can stop reintroductions.
At the state school, bed bugs were being brought into the facility on personal items and furniture from residents’ homes.
To help end the cycle, Lieb developed a check-in protocol that included inspections and heat-treating items in a portable heat unit. Mattresses were encased; training sessions were held for staff on bed bug biology and behavior.
Monitoring traps placed under bed legs are inspected monthly. If bed bugs are found, “you literally can narrow it down to a single bed a lot of times and at least that single room versus having to treat multiple rooms plus common areas plus everything else because you’ve caught it quickly,” said Lieb.
4. You can reduce budget uncertainty.
Instead of paying an unknown amount each year for reactive bed bug control, proactive service helps clients plan for bed bug control expenses.
It also protects what they’ve already invested to eliminate the pest. “If you’re going to have this big investment, you’d better back it up with ongoing preventative maintenance,” said Jeremiah Riopel, multi-housing sales and marketing director, Plunkett’s Pest Control, Fridley, Minn.
5. You can retain additional customers.
Proactive bed bug service requires a significant amount of communication and contact. “You’ve got many more touches with that client than you do with a quarterly account,” explained Riopel. As a result, you have the opportunity to build partnerships that last long term. “We just don’t lose those properties,” he said.
Lieb’s proactive approach earned him more work at another state school facility, where he likewise had success eliminating bed bugs. “You make a really happy customer,” he said.