What Drives Interest?

Mosquito Control Supplement - Mosquito Control Supplement

Understanding customer motivations will help you grow your mosquito control service.

May 10, 2022

© @VMStock | AdobeStock

Mosquito control is becoming a bigger part of the bottom line for pest control companies.

Back in 2014, when PCT first asked the industry about this service, only 38 percent of companies offered mosquito control, and 56 percent earned less than 5 percent of revenue from mosquito work.

Today, 72 percent of pest control companies offer mosquito control, which generates on average 18.1 percent of company revenue, according to the 2022 PCT State of the Mosquito Control Market survey. The survey was sponsored by MGK and fielded in February by Readex Research, an independent market research firm.

So, what drives customer interest in mosquito control? Many pest management professionals said mosquitoes are a nuisance and prevent customers from enjoying their backyards.

“People are getting chewed up and they can’t even go in their yard to do yard work or spend time in the backyard with the kids,” said George Iglesias, head of operations for Pest Innovations in Glendora, Calif. Aedes mosquitoes were first detected in Southern California about 10 years ago and now are causing big headaches for homeowners.

Pandemic lockdowns and the social distancing that kept people home only increased awareness of mosquitoes and people’s desire to get rid of them. More than a quarter (26 percent) of PMPs said the pandemic had a positive impact on their mosquito control business last year, found the 2022 PCT survey.

“When they’re sitting at home like they’re doing through COVID, they’re noticing mosquitoes a little more,” said Patrick Wyman, owner of Epcon Lane Pest Control in Akron, Ohio.

Because of COVID-19, people also are more tuned in to public health messages. “I think the health concerns with COVID have only heightened people’s awareness of mosquito-borne illnesses,” said William Woodhouse, a technical specialist at EcoShield Pest Solutions. “The last two years, we’ve seen an increase in customers calling in about West Nile or Zika.”

The Aedes mosquitoes that transmit these diseases don’t exist in his market, but people have moved there from other states where the pests are prevalent. “They kind of bring that perception with them,” Woodhouse said. “We try to educate them as much as possible, but the perception is out there that mosquitoes are bad no matter what type or where you’re at.”

According to the survey, 46 percent of PMPs said their customers understand the risks of vector-borne diseases; 80 percent said they disapprove of using scare tactics to promote their mosquito services.

News coverage of mosquito-borne disease tends to boost mosquito control sales. Five years ago, Zika “really generated a lot of calls,” recalled Luke Lewis, president of Native Pest Management in West Palm Beach, Fla. While that’s not a top concern today, Florida does have active West Nile virus. When people become aware of this, they want mosquito control for it, he said.

In January, news reports alerted pet owners that dogs in Southern California were now at higher risk for mosquito-borne heartworm disease. This generated calls for Pest Innovations. “That kind of news flash will always promote mosquito maintenance,” said Iglesias.

Word of mouth was the most effective way to promote mosquito services, reported 58 percent of PMPs in the PCT survey.

At EcoShield’s Englewood, Colo., location last year, 70-80 percent of new customers called for mosquito service after being referred by neighbors or seeing service trucks in their neighborhood, said Woodhouse. “It was very weird because all of our sales are usually door-to-door, not that much call in,” he said.

Ace Exterminating in Joelton, Tenn., likewise benefited from word of mouth. “We really pride ourselves on customer referrals,” said Tim Jackson, vice president of pest control at the company. Running digital ads on Facebook also helped grow the service line. According to 46 percent of PMPs, online marketing via social media and company websites was a good way to market mosquito control services.

Also effective was email marketing (25 percent). Doug Fleischer, managing partner of PestEx in Framingham, Mass., targets existing customers who do not have mosquito control service. He also runs “drip campaigns” to keep the service top-of-mind with his customers.

The month of March was when most (36 percent) PMPs began promoting mosquito control services. But the best time to do this really depends on the market.

Mid-to-late summer is when mosquitoes are “out of control” in middle Tennessee, which makes it an ideal time for a sales pitch, said Jackson. If technicians are bitten by mosquitoes in the yard, “it’s a perfect opportunity to present to the customer that I can help them,” he said.

Wyman advertises his mosquito control program right before holidays when people traditionally host outdoor get- togethers, such as the Fourth of July. He also encourages clients to speak to their neighbors about getting mosquito service.

“If we can hit a couple of backyards, it’s definitely going to make a difference in the control,” said Wyman.

Jay Everitt, technical director at Rottler Pest Solutions in St. Louis, agreed. When more than one property has mosquito control, you create a treated zone that reduces the overall mosquito population and breeding sites. “Everybody benefits from that,” he said.

PMPs had the greatest success marketing mosquito control services to homeowners (51 percent) and families with young children (35 percent), found the PCT survey.

Most PMPs (96 percent) agreed their companies perform an essential public health service by providing mosquito control, and 36 percent said they know someone who has suffered from a vector-borne illness. Nearly two-thirds of PMPs (64 percent) said mosquitoes represent a greater threat to public health today than they did five years ago.

The author is a frequent contributor to PCT.