Ravi Sachdeva, CEO and resident entomologist at American Pest Management, Manhattan, Kan., calls bat control one of his fastest-growing markets, and although there are definitely some unique skills involved with servicing bat complaints, he said competition is slim and the potential for profit is great.
“Bat control is growing because of three factors,” Sachdeva said. The first is that bat issues are associated with noise that is heard in the night that cannot be replicated during the day, making it challenging to track and locate. Second, he said is that consumers have a general lack of knowledge when it comes to bat problems, and there are no DIY fixes available beyond bat houses. Finally, he added that most pest management professionals lack the knowledge and skills to find signs of a bat’s presence, much less to perform bat control work.
“It is an area of expertise most PMPs lack the knowledge of, and since they are not aware of the seriousness of the problem, they have not taken the initiative to get the knowledge necessary to do bat control,” he said.
INTERESTING START. So how did Sachdeva break into this underserved market? Surprisingly enough, he had some help from a pest you might not expect.
“It started with bed bugs. We kept finding what we thought were bed bugs in unusual places like the bath tub and on windows of the living room and kitchen.”
But after careful inspection Sachdeva realized that the microscopic pests he was dealing with weren’t actually bed bugs at all.
The small, reddish brown oval-shaped insects he was encountering were actually bat bugs, and as their name implies they follow their host of choice — bats.
“From that point forward it was an adventure to learn about bats, their biology and behavior habits, and finding tools to solve customers’ problems,” said Sachdeva.
STARTING A PROGRAM. According to Sachdeva, the first skill a pest control professional interested in beginning a bat control program should know is where to look and what to look for.
“Knowing the biology and behavior of common bat species in one’s area of service would be important,” he said. Once the problem is identified, taking care of it may require ladders, lifts and often nighttime or dusk inspections.
For pest management professionals looking to get started in the field, Sachdeva recommends a few basic steps.
“Get to know the bat species in your area and ask county extension folks if they get calls about them,” he said. “Do some night observations, especially at dusk. Look around and check attics for droppings that are unusual or scratching and squeaking noises that could be a mouse or rat but is not. Dig deeper.”
When it came to Sachdeva’s bat control program, he also had to “dig deeper” when it came to marketing this new service.
He said it’s been a trial and error process, but currently he advertises on his vehicles, website, social media and community events. For content he shares material published by the CDC about the dangers of rabies, as well as information about bats in general.
“I am not sure we have the perfect formula yet,” he added.
Regardless, Sachdeva said that bat control is another valuable revenue steam in a pest management professional’s toolbox, and that his next step is figuring out a recurring revenue model for the service.
The author is a Cleveland-based writer who can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.