Over the past 20 years, as the world has continued to become more connected with each other, the exchange of information between the customer and the pest management professional (PMP) has allowed for an increased level of instant communication. These advances have redefined the pest management field by creating an added level of demand from customers who expect a rapid response to their inquiries and complaints by email, text message or FaceTime call.

This article will present a snapshot of some essential technologies that every pest management business should consider incorporating and includes their usefulness, the benefit to the PMP and the benefit to the customer. In no way are these the only forms of technology available, and it is always sound advice to remain attuned to newer technologies as they become available.

Technological advances within the field of pest management have allowed many who are savvy to capitalize on technology not only to service their customers better but also to increase their profit margins. Overall, embracing technology is a win-win situation for all parties involved, yet some PMPs continue to not capitalize on all that is available to them. As a result, their ability to properly service their customers and to keep those foundational lines of communication open suffers, which leads to cancellations of service or repeated callbacks. Therefore, it is vital that not only PMPs keep themselves up to date with advances in technology, but importantly, utilize these technological advances to service their customers better.

FIELD TRACKING. It is crucial that every pest management business with a service fleet utilize live GPS technology to track their field staff. Not only will this guarantee that their customers are receiving the services they are paying for, but also it ensures the safety of field personnel and it effectively tracks the habits of their technicians.

For example, a technician who is habitually speeding on the highway should be confronted and this technology can aid the supervisor or business owner in being able to detect these dangerous habits. It is important to note this technology has evolved significantly with advances such as the ability to record driving via a camera on the dashboard and microphones installed inside and outside the service vehicle. Therefore, a reduction in liability is an indispensable consideration to investing in this technology, which has become standard for most pest management firms.

Overall, GPS technology has evolved through improvements in data analytics, which incorporates artificial intelligence such as “artificial machine vision,” thereby allowing the technology to learn without needing to be programmed ahead of time. In short, the program becomes smarter and can produce critical reports that can be used to improve an existing route or make essential changes, which can lead to substantial savings in time and labor costs. The benefit to the customer comes in the form of rapid responses to their service requests, which ensures better customer retention rates, competitive pricing and opportunities to upsell services.

HANDHELD TECHNOLOGY. Most large pest management corporations have been utilizing handheld devices for some time and with great success. In accounts where the requirement and expectation from the PMP is to produce detailed reports on their Integrated Pest Management services, the technology can accurately provide the necessary reports to meet that customer demand. For example, in audited accounts, the expectation is that an established and documented floor plan of mechanical traps has been developed so that active areas of pest activity can be monitored. Data analysis is crucial so that pest sighting trends can be documented to identify areas that are experiencing elevated instances of pest activity so that a suitable treatment can be initiated.

Given that most of these larger pest management firms actively utilize this technology, many newer and more economical handheld variations have sprung up, which has allowed small- to mid-sized pest management firms to take advantage of this technology as well. Additionally, many newer handheld platforms can be operated with a smartphone that provides for video recording and photographing capabilities, further easing the burden on the field staff. Combining these features has provided for an environment in which PMPs can report their findings during their service calls and immediately convey these findings to the customer.

REMOTE MONITORING. One of the most exciting advancements in the pest management field has resulted from sensor-based technology, which has allowed firms the ability to attach sensors to their mechanical traps or in specific areas to monitor for rodent activity. The technology reports via text message, email or conventional reporting the level of activity and provides essential data that can be used to target a specific area and to improve the pest management service overall. There may be some concern with this technology since it can superficially appear to render the pest technician’s role as ineffective or unimportant, however, the pest management technician and his/her crucial role are here to stay! There always will be a need to interpret data that originates from these advances in technology and a human service presence is indispensable to customers.

FINAL THOUGHTS. One crucial factor to strongly consider is in challenging ourselves as an industry to further our training efforts, from senior management to field personnel. As advances in technology continue to develop, we as an industry must also continue to build our skill sets and our ability to remain adaptable to these technological advancements. Technology always will continue to develop and in these developments, the opportunity to streamline our operations, improve efficiency for the pest technician and improve our services to our customers remains vital.

Communication, when used in conjunction with the technology that is available, will always remain an essential component to achieving success when servicing our customers. Sometimes, the temptation is for one entity, whether a supervisor or owner, to not incorporate the feedback of their field staff. However, in taking this technology to the next level, all parties integral to the growth of a pest management firm must be involved so the available technology can be used to better the account serviced, help the field staff involved and improve the pest management firm itself.

Peter Stieglmayr is an independent pest management consultant and freelance writer with more than 15 years of pest management industry experience as a consultant, technical director and service specialist.