Where and how PMPs go green – PCT
As with any pest, there are a multitude of variables that can affect the effectiveness of the product – and a balance has to be struck that “the customer is always right”. (See Curb Callbacks.) So, is offering a warranty or guarantee a security route that will win customer loyalty? Or is it an invitation to step back and lose money on services?
There are two schools of thought.
Chris Brennan has been in the business for 39 years, running Brennan’s Pest Control in Oak Park, Illinois. He estimates that about 30 percent of his total income comes from treating ants, and he uses an à la carte approach. If he gets a call about ants, he takes care of the ants. If a homeowner wants a quarterly program, they will offer it – but they generally don’t sell a package. And he never offers guarantees.
“I’ve always thought that was crazy in our industry,” he says. “We are dealing with biological issues and there are customers who are not cooperative when it comes to cleaning up or managing their environment. There are structural problems, for example. A house can have a crumbling foundation. I tell customers, ‘I’ll do my best for you.’ “
He also honestly says whether the ant situation requires more than one treatment or continuous pest control. “Sometimes one service is sufficient and sometimes the house needs follow-up and we find that this is in the com
Weeks. A house needs what it needs. “
Other PMPs find that a guarantee gives customers the confidence they can trust the service. Christopher O’Brien, owner of Scorpion Specialists in Phoenix, Arizona, says 60 percent of his customers have ant problems. It offers a six month guarantee on a new external redfire ant control. “If a customer just baits us, we offer a 30-day guarantee,” he says. There is no provision for the external guarantee – it will re-treat for free if the customer calls before six months have elapsed – but the inside requires customers to clean and do their part, or the callback is not free. “The gel ant baits work really well and I’ve never had a call back for them,” he adds.
Bobbie Terry owns The Bug Lady in Austin, Texas and the founder of Women in Pest Control. It offers a 30-day guarantee on services. “I’ll come back and treat for free,” she says of the directive.
How often does she have to redeem the guarantee? “Hardly ever.”
“Whether I am providing special treatment or ongoing treatment, clients sign an agreement stating that if I find sanitary or structural issues, they are responsible for fixing these issues – and if they don’t, I can charge for follow-up treatment ask, ”Terry says.