By Stuart Aust and Daniel Aust
About 20 years ago Bird Doctor was started as an offshoot of Bug Doctor. Our Bug Doctor service specialists had dabbled with bird work, performing small jobs such as installing bird spikes on window sills, applying bird gel on ledges or performing exclusion to keep birds out of a structure.
We learned many lessons in these early years. I remember doing our first net install at a supermarket’s loading dock and what we calculated for the price compared to the final cost to install the net was more than we expected; this resulted in a loss. It was at that point that I realized if we were going to make a go at it in bird control we would have to make a study of it. There is always a price to pay when you’re learning a new business service line. However, the process of making small mistakes along the way will prepare you for the big jobs and allow you to deliver on your promises to the customer when the stakes are much higher.
It’s always good to walk before you run. What we mean by that is to start off with small bird jobs and move up to larger ones. This will build confidence in your installation skills, product knowledge and job pricing. Doing work for Donald Trump and the Trump organization was a defining moment for Bird Doctor; it was our first six-figure bird job. After that job we knew the sky was the limit (no pun intended) and we became confident in our skills to install deterrents and also in our knowledge of pricing jobs. We developed our own internal worksheets for job costing and put numerous service systems and protocols into place.
You may ask, “How do you obtain bird work?” There are so many ways to advertise your bird work services but most of our large jobs have come from cold calls generated by simply combing up and down buildings looking for birds and their droppings. Be brave, go inside the building and ask who is in charge of bird/pest control.
NINE TIPS. If priced properly performing bird work can be quite profitable. Conversely, you can lose your shirt as they say if you underestimate a job. Here is some advice for those looking to get into bird control:
1. Read all you can to learn about the bird control business. Read past issues of PCT about birds. There are books you can purchase on bird control.
2. Google and research the websites of other bird control companies and you will learn quite a bit.
3. Talk to the bird deterrent suppliers and distributors as they have an interest in your success. They will be glad to provide you with training and support. Look at their websites and ask them to send you supply catalogs. Request that they send you bird deterrent displays to which you can refer when making sales presentations. Some of their websites have videos on various bird control methodologies.
4. If you’re just getting started, utilize another bird control company as your subcontractor so you can get the work done. You also can learn a great deal from them. We have assisted other companies when they were unable to get the work done. Recently we installed bird netting for another pest control company and they watched and videotaped our bird technicians doing the work. This was a win-win situation for both companies. It’s a great way to build industry relationships as well.
When we were just getting started close to 20 years ago I called John Daly Sr., owner of Pigeons Away, a Division of Allison Pest Control, in Farmingdale, N.J., to discuss an airline hangar that called us for bird control. I knew that John was an expert in bird control and I was over my head on this job. I called him and invited him to join me on the walk-through of the hangar. John became a mentor. From that day on I knew I could count on him to help me when I had questions and simply for some guidance on unique jobs. He was always so gracious to spend as much time as needed and I will always be grateful for the time and wisdom he devoted to me. Don’t see your competitor as your opponent, but as a new potential friend and mentor who just might be willing to pass on some pearls of wisdom to you.
5. Check out YouTube videos on how to install bird deterrents and how to perform bird control.
6. Attend NPMA and NWCOA conferences as there are always sessions on bird control.
7. Hire experienced bird control installers to introduce bird control to your company.
8. Consider purchasing a bird control company and learning from them. We purchased a bird control company in our early days in business and we learned new and interesting techniques and also gained a great employee. This is how some of the large pest control companies obtain talent: They purchase it.
9. As you can see there are numerous resources right at your fingertips. There are safety items to be aware of when performing bird work such as taking an OSHA 10-Hour Course, ladder training, lift and harness training, scaffold training, respirator training, and wearing the proper PPEs when doing bird work. There are more than 60 different diseases associated with birds and their droppings so one must take care when offering this type of service.
FINAL THOUGHTS. Performing bird control started out as an experiment but it turned into a viable add-on business. It took about five years before Bird Doctor became a segment of our business that could stand alone if needed. Bug Doctor was a great feeder program for Bird Doctor. In the beginning many of bird leads came from our parent company, Bug Doctor.
What’s really exciting is that we started out doing bird jobs for a couple of hundred dollars; now we’re doing jobs that cost thousands. Still to this day we perform the small jobs because they can lead us to the larger ones. Plus all jobs keep our team busy. There’s an old saying, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you’ll land among the stars.” I think you get my gist. Go for it! It’s time to get in the bird game!
Stuart Aust is president/CEO of Bug Doctor and Bird Doctor Nationwide, Paramus, N.J. Daniel Aust is director of sales & business development. Learn more at www.birddoctorinc.com.