PHOTO courtesy of Nicole Spencer

How many times do you get asked what you do for a job? Or, “What’s your company all about?” And when asked, do you have an “elevator speech?” A clear, quickly delivered “infomercial” about you or your business or other passion?

I thought it might be fun to ask what interesting bits of infomercial-worthy information might go into an elevator speech about pest control. So, I’ve put together some ideas that might serve as an interesting mixture of thoughts and facts to entertain, inform and impress those who have no idea what we do every day in the pest control profession. 

  • Pest control is more than a job. It’s a profession that’s all about protecting your property, health and welfare. 
  • Pest management professionals help schools, businesses, homeowners and renters manage termites, rodents, cockroaches, ants and bed bugs. And we do it efficiently using the best science-based methods. 
  • Pest control employees not only go through apprenticeships and exams to get licensed; they’re now required to get safety- and pest control-related continuing education credits annually in most states.
  • Insecticides are safer and more thoroughly tested today than ever. The average cost of discovering and getting a new insecticide to market today is more than $250 million, about $67 million of which is devoted to environmental and safety testing. Next to pharmaceuticals, pesticides are arguably the most thoroughly tested products used by consumers.
  • We’re a modest-sized industry doing a huge job. The pest control industry is estimated to be $8 billion a year in the United States — about the same as how much Americans spend on Halloween. 
  • Speaking of Halloween, how scary is it that a cockroach doesn’t have to touch you to make you sick? Just breathing the air of a cockroach-infested home exposes you to cockroach allergens, which can lead to asthma. And more than 60 percent of U.S. homes have these allergens (the percentage is even higher for inner city homes — estimates range between 78 percent and 98 percent). 
  • Almost 1 million households were treated for bed bugs by the United States pest control industry in 2016, up 11 percent from 2015.
  • One of the fastest-growing pest control industry segments around the country is mosquito control, a market in which our industry battles the deadliest animal in the world. (Mosquito-borne malaria kills close to three-quarters of a million people a year.) 
  • Rodents chewing on wires and gas lines in attics and walls cause an estimated 20-25 percent of all fires of mysterious origin. A PMP knows how to eliminate rats and mice while minimizing the risks of dead rodents in unwanted places.
  • A single house mouse visiting your customer’s kitchen in one night leaves behind more than 50 virus- and bacteria-laden droppings and up to 3,000 micro-urine droplets on floors, on countertops and in drawers. 
  • As U.S. cities grow, and apartment densities soar, the need for pest control is growing now at more than 4.5 percent ($100 million) a year.

Of course, together these facts are way too long for an elevator speech (which should be 25 to 30 seconds, no longer than 80 or 90 words). So, pick one or two things to commit to memory and pull them out when you’ve got 30 seconds with a prospective customer (or your mother who still doesn’t know what you do).

The author is an entomology specialist for Texas AgriLife Extension.