Savvy pest management companies look in every nook and cranny of a home to find not only pests but new revenue opportunities. One location PMPs sometimes overlook is the attic.
“Attics are the ‘last frontier,’ what we call an ‘OP’ (opportunity probe) for our technicians and inspectors,” says Rusty Markland, COO of PestNow in Sterling, Va. “We have a responsibility to our customers to inspect and inform them of any active pest issues or potential conducive conditions in the attic that would cause harm or damage to the structure or the residents.”
Markland says not inspecting the attic would be similar to having your annual medical checkup and the doctor only taking your temperature — it is incomplete service at best.
“Your technician or inspector is not only cheating themselves and the customer but the company as well by ignoring opportunities to provide a needed service and potentially increase company revenues through add-on sales,” adds Markland.
Attics are a frequent entry and harborage point for an array of pests including termites, cockroaches, ants, rodents (see roof rat article on page 100) and wildlife including squirrels and raccoons. The attic is also one of the most infrequently visited locations in a home — and that fits nicely into a pest’s behavior pattern.
“Many companies don’t appreciate what a major entry point an attic is for pests and wildlife,” says Bill Turk, president of TAP Insulation, manufacturer of an EPA-registered insulation that creates a pest barrier in homes. “Attics are not ideal working environments and can be hard to access but they contain numerous new revenue opportunities for pest management professionals.”
From pest and rodent exclusion to baiting for ants or cockroaches to termite damage repair and insulation removal and installation (see insulation article on page 100), the list of services — many of which pest professionals already offer — is plentiful.
“There are treasures in every hidden crevice but almost no one goes in their attic and when they do they are shocked at what they find,” says Markland. “With smartphone technology it is easy to inspect, locate the problem and show it to the homeowner.”
Being an expert set of eyes in a place most homeowners want very little part of adds value to a PMP’s service offerings and builds a tighter connection with the homeowner.
“Pest management professionals who regularly inspect attics can identify pest-related or structural risks (i.e., a leaky roof) and alert the homeowner,” says Jay Mancin, CFO of TAP Insulation. “They will also be able to make professional recommendations on how to remedy the problem.”
What holds pest professionals back when it comes to finding new revenue streams that exist in attics?
PestNow’s Markland says it is a matter of training, education and experience. The company teaches its inspectors and technicians to look for “jeopardy” or anything that could harm the structure or its occupants, and how to effectively communicate their findings to the customer.
An example would be a family of mice, rats or raccoons living in the attic. These unwanted visitors can not only cause structural damage and destroy the contents of the attic but contaminate the area with feces and urine. A homeowner would want to know about that and want these pests removed, the area cleaned up and exclusion measures taken to prevent them from returning.
“It is not selling fear if you find a problem,” says Markland. “You don’t have to ‘sell’ the problems you find, they sell themselves to the homeowner.”
Markland says PestNow recommends homeowners have their attic inspected at least every two years, if not annually. He says very few customers decline the inspection offer and it has helped the company deliver a higher level of service and allowed the customer to have greater confidence in their pest provider. The result? More satisfied customers.
“Attic inspections and the services generated from them have created a revenue stream that is unmatched and has no seasonal limitations,” says Markland. “There is ‘business’ in every attic, don’t wait on the phone to ring….go get it.”
The author is a frequent contributor to PCT magazine and partner with B Communications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.