We’ve all heard the horror stories from a friend or neighbor who had a bad experience with a service. It doesn’t really matter what the service was. It could have been a mechanic, a dry cleaner, or mower. We all know someone, or have experienced for ourselves, lousy service. Choosing a pest control company is no different. There are good ones and bad ones.
As Pest Management Professionals (or exterminators in older terminology), we often hear these stories of pain from new clients. The previous service provider over-promised and under-delivered. The technician tracked dirt in the home. Sometimes they neglected to treat part of the property. Or perhaps their demeanor was less than professional.
Whatever the case may have been, have a quick read about our tips for choosing a pest control company.
Integrated Pest Management
Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, is a set of best practices for the industry. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a definition for IPM. It reads in part:
“Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices. IPM programs use current, comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment.
The IPM approach can be applied to both agricultural and non-agricultural settings, such as the home, garden, and workplace. IPM takes advantage of all appropriate pest management options including, but not limited to, the judicious use of pesticides.”
What does that mean for you? It means that the Pest Management Professional (PMP) you choose to work with should use this approach.
In practice, this can look a few different ways. For example, in residential settings, we rarely treat for flies of any kind. We understand that flies have a particular source, and once that breeding site has been eliminated, they’ll go away. Because of this, we counsel potential clients to control the problem themselves without the use of chemicals.
What IPM means for you is that a real professional knows when to spray something in or around your home. It also means they know when not to spray. It’s peace-of-mind that they know what they’re doing. They’re going to help you solve your problem, not just charge you to spray something.
Just as important as knowing what to do is knowing how to communicate it! In other words, the company you choose to work with should be able to explain what is causing your pest problem and how to fix it. They should explain things in a way you understand.
You should also be able to reach your service provider. Most importantly, when you call in, you should talk to a live person in a local office. Are your calls are being fielded by a call center in another state? There may be lag time in responding to your request.
Lastly, what is their policy about service calls? Are these included with your services? Check to see if you’ll be charged for follow-up visits.
There are a number of professional organizations that establish best practices for the pest control industry. The company you choose to work with should be affiliated with one of these local or national organizations. Often these organizations provide training, educate about best practices, highlight new products hitting the market, and host conferences. Affiliation is a sign that the organization is committed to maintaining their professional edge.
Here in Pennsylvania, there is the Pennsylvania Pest Management Association (PPMA) that many reputable businesses are associated with. On a broader scale, look for affiliation with the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). The NPMA offers different levels of certifications for professionals. These range from a base of industry knowledge and practices, to more specialized certifications in working in schools.
What do others say about the organization you want to work with? Checking out their online reviews and asking friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers for recommendations is important. Make sure you’ve done some homework about what services others have been pleased with.
A word to the wise here, too – no relationship with a service provider is going to be perfect. There will be times you are disappointed. Read the online reviews from the provider you’re interested in working with very carefully. Specifically, did they respond when someone was upset? And if they did respond, how did they respond? Was it respectful and helpful? Or did they cast blame on the unhappy client? Did they bother to address the concern at all?
Knowing what you are getting into by looking at their responses on the front end might save you a lot of headache (and possibly money!) down the road.
There are a number of things you should consider when choosing a pest control company. An Integrated Pest Management approach, customer service, professional affiliations and some homework on their reputation will hopefully help you make an informed decision.
If you would like to talk to us about our Pest Control services, contact us here.