Achieve Ant Control – Pest Management Professional: Pest Management Professional
Rely on ants to generate continuous income for pest controllers (PMPs) regardless of location or climate.
“The work of ants just keeps getting bigger every year,” said David Moore, BCE, manager of technical services at Dodson Pest Control, Lynchburg, Virginia.
Ants are consistently ranked the No. 1 top-selling pest in the Pest Management Professional (PMP) annual State of the Industry Report and can be a boon to business for PMPs who successfully identify and treat them.
“Ant control services are a given for PMPs looking to increase their recurring income – provided you are willing to train your teammates appropriately,” said Joseph Edwards, president of North Fulton Pest Solutions, Alpharetta, Georgia.
REDUCTION OF RECALLS
The training helps ensure technicians can clearly identify the species they are dealing with, which is critical to determining an effective treatment modality and reducing recalls.
PMP’s 2020 Ant Management Survey shows that only 4 percent of PMPs who responded believe recalls this year will be worse than recalls last year.
The steps PMPs are taking to reduce callbacks work, as the survey also shows 96 percent
of respondents report a recall percentage of 25 percent or less for ant control treatments.
The methods that help keep recalls at bay range from frequent customer follow-ups to reliable identification tools to extensive technician training.
Paul Wikoff, owner of Total Care Pest Management in Emporia, Can., Says office workers check in with customers shortly after each ant control service. You then call and if there is a problem a technician will be back free of charge.
“If everything is okay, we lead the conversation through positive reinforcement and leave a good grade,” he says. “Since we started making follow-up calls, our referrals and conversions into annual services have skyrocketed.”
Edwards says it pays to train technicians how to properly identify the ants at a customer’s location.
“We go to great lengths to provide our technicians with thorough training that includes the correct identification of ant species and their biology, which in turn enables them to better understand ants’ feeding habits, along with their preferences for feeding, nesting and housing. – so that we are confident that we are implementing the right treatment strategies, ”he explains.
IDENTIFICATION OF SPECIES
With more than 700 species of ants in the United States, technicians who know the species they are dealing with are well on their way to gaining control, according to the National Pest Management Association.
“Proper ant identification is critical to getting the right results that ultimately lead to a happy customer,” added Edwards.
PMP’s exclusive survey shows that street ants (Tetramorium caespitum) are gaining traction as they are responsible for both the number of jobs created and the number of recalls. This year they have improved by two places compared to last year’s survey. As with any pest, the species determines the method of treatment.
“Identifying specific species enables the correct treatment of ants and correct products and procedures for eradication and / or control,” said Darrell Seelinger, owner of Oakland Pest Control in Macomb, Michigan.
In ants, using the wrong products and treatment protocols can worsen an infestation. It can also increase the time it takes to gain control.
“Properly identifying the ant enables you to know its habits,” says Moore. “If you know their habits, you can solve the problem faster.”
PMPs who spend time with customers to learn where and when they saw ants and demonstrate their expertise by identifying the pest can put customers at ease, says Wikoff of Total Care Pest Management.
“It gives customers a sense of calm; they know they called someone who knows what they are doing, ”he says. “Also, and probably more importantly, it enables the technician to adapt the treatment method to the species of ant.”
Nowadays, PMPs can more easily identify ants in the field thanks to smartphone apps that allow them to see distinguishing features such as color, knots, wings, antennae and habits.
This is how Edwards equips his technicians, although his employed entomologist can help with precise identification if doubts remain.
For others, like Moore, a jeweler’s loupe and guide book can help identify species of ants that technicians don’t come across every day.
“You can do simple things like crush them and use the smell to identify species like fragrant house ants or citronella ants,” he adds.
A combination of new and old technology enables Wikoff technicians to positively identify ants; you use a credit card-sized magnifying glass together with an app.
When the time comes to determine a treatment option, involve the client.
“Learn how to guide customers through structural, cultural, and behavioral changes,” says Moore. “These can make a huge difference.”
Since it can take some time to gain control depending on the infestation and treatment method, it is important to communicate your expectations.
“By pre-training the customer with step-by-step protocols, we can achieve results within a timeframe that meet our customers’ expectations,” says Edwards. “When we achieve results that the customer may not have experienced at a previous company, it builds trust that leads to a relationship with the customer that can ultimately lead to providing services for all of their pest and wildlife control needs . “
A happy customer can be your best advocate. Controlling an ant infestation often leads to word-of-mouth recommendations to family, friends, and neighbors.
“Taking care of the decision-maker home can also help expand your commercial work,” notes Moore.
Weather conditions have done little to reduce pest pressure and customers are quick to call for help when pests appear indoors.
“In general, the spring season is about ants,” says Seelinger. “The level of activity depends on how wet, dry, cold or hot the season starts.”
Ants have been Edwards’ # 1 common household pest problem for more than 10 years, and he continues to see a huge surge in ant services.
“Ants have been shown to be successful in adapting to weather conditions, resulting in a steady increase in ant pressure,” he says. “Ant control was by far the fastest growing segment of our company.”
As for Wikoff, he’s been preoccupied with the rainy spring weather for the past two years. Calls for ant control have “gone through the roof,” he says. But he has developed a strategy that leads to satisfied customers.
“So many people call with ‘ants in my mailbox’ or ‘ants all over my deck’ that we dedicate a week to all of our contract customers with preventive treatment right before the ant season really starts,” he says.
Wikoff points out that ant control is best learned through hands-on practice, and says that the lessons of his six-legged “teachers” have served him well: “You have to slow down and look closely, because every ant job is different than before. “