Is Billy The Exterminators Image Bad For Pest Control?

There are several reasons these thoughts have flitted across my brain lately and so I thought I would share them with you. Please feel free to comment and don’t hold back one ounce of what you’re thinking as I intend to do the same.

When I drive around town I see many different bug guys and gals and to be quite honest I’m a bit disappointed. For an industry that touts professionalism it sure looks like we don’t care to much about promoting this idea. Now I’m not a prude and like you, I like to be comfortable in what I do. So you may catch me in a pair of jeans from time to time and on days where I have nothing but vacant repos to do I might even skip shaving for that day.

What do we call professional?

Is it a tie or collared shirt with a shiny mag lite hooked to our belt? What’s the mandate on hair length or mustaches and colors of our pants? Do you have to carry a metal notebook to be professional or have a vehicle with mouse parts welded on? These aren’t really questions for me to decide. It’s up to you what your image is. Sure the industry has leaders whose voice carries weight and there are tried and true looks that have been proven over the years. What it comes down to is your business model and what promotes you and your company. In the end the bottom line makes the decisions easy for you because you’ll either grow as a company or not- your customers will decide that for you

Case In Point

Almost everybody knows Billy The Exterminator and for the most part people love him. The people that do not, seems to be the technicians and pros who write me or comment on forums around the web. Of those, the overwhelming majority always mention how he looks. They don’t like his hair, his sunglasses or all that shiny spiked metal he’s adorned with. The comments are pretty straight forward and claim he is tearing down the industry among other things. Now to be fair, most of the well thought out commentors address other issues (which I will as well in part 2) but still, they almost always start with his dress–It must bother them.

So I wonder; Is it just old crotchety techs with crew cuts and penny loafers who feel this way? Is it because he has a TV show and is suddenly adored by millions of people? Does the sight of a guy in leather suddenly make you feel like you’re surrounded by a biker gang?

Whatever you think of Billy consider this; He knows the power of a uniform because he served his country in the Air Force wearing one everyday. His customers don’t seem to mind and hundreds of thousands of fans search the net looking for his apparel. His family dresses the part and unless he just came out of a crawl space he is never dirty or looking like he just rolled out of bed hung over.

The Techs We Don’t Talk About

What probably bothers me most about this discussion is no one really addresses the look that I see almost every day out on the road. Techs who look like Grizzly Adams and haven’t showered in a week. Faces that look like a mug shot, ratty tennis shoes and even a t-shirt for their favorite Nascar driver. The trucks aren’t much better with sloppy goo dripping from a leaky tank, B&G perched on a bucket of rat bait and trash flying out every time they get up to speed. This may make you angry to hear but it is a reality I seldom see addressed. Sure I live in a small town but I see this everywhere I travel & I always wonder, “Would I let them into my home? Could I trust someone who looks like that to professionally apply chemicals where my family lives? Can they possibly do a professional job?”

I Realize it’s Just TV But

Yes I might take a double look at Billy if he were walking up my drive but whether you like it or not, his uniform is coordinated with a deliberate theme. You instantly know the UPS man in his brown shorts right? I’ve never seen a shoddy Vexcon truck with chemicals oozing onto the road nor do I take packages from a driver whose boxes are crushed in a heap. Both by definition then are professional at least in appearance whether you like the look or not. I’ve searched the web and not found any ‘real articles’ except one a reader sent me. This coupled with the many e-mails and comments on many different forums started this train of thought for me and I’d be eager to hear what you say. To be quite honest, if it came down to it and I had to choose between some of the techs I’ve seen out there and Vexcon, Billy wouldn’t be that bad, What say you?

About The Bug Doctor

Jerry Schappert is a certified pest control operator and Associate Certified Entomologist with over two and a half decades of experience from birds to termites and everything in between. He started as a route technician and worked his way up to commercial/national accounts representative. Always learning in his craft he is familiar with rural pest services and big city control techniques. Jerry has owned and operated a successful pest control company since 1993 in Ocala,Florida. While his knowledge and practical application has benefitted his community Jerry wanted to impart his wisdom on a broader scale to help many more. Pestcemetery.com was born from that idea in 2007 and has been well received. It is the goal of this site to inform you with his keen insights and safely guide you through your pest control treatment needs.
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  • Image matters.

  • “Brevity is the soul of wit”

    I think I know exactly what you’re saying Luay 😉

  • Sadly as in any industry the pest management profession is not immune to the disease of stereotypes. Even worse it seems stereotypes are propelled forward by our fellow peers inside the industry who believe we all must be a replica, a clone of what THEY believe represents OUR industry.

    Truth is what works for one company, or one region of the country may not work somewhere else. The key to success is the ability to discern what can make individual companies rise above the rest and stand out. Sometimes my friends that does involve unorthodox approaches.

    Diversity breeds healthy competition, which in turns forces us ALL to strive to be better at what we do and what we provide for those in need.

  • I respect your well thought out words but would ask you or anyone else to consider this. “They & Our” present a clear and definite line which is something that I think you are against.

    It is a slippery slope to be firmly on one side or the other– While diversity is great in theory, it rarely works in the practical.

    I’m a live and let live guy and have no problem with exterminators who use SWAT theme clothing, western, or shirt and ties–(I do hate ties 😉 However I do draw a LINE when it comes to what I described in the article so color me guilty too. Sloppy leads to sloppier and shows a disregard for peoples safety which is something I think we are all entrusted with.

    I used Billy to illustrate this point because his appearance is the perfect vehicle to bring it up and I believe his notoriety makes it fair to do so. However my aim for the article wasn’t so much to bring Billy’s appearance into question as it was to bring to light the ‘lack’ of professionalism some in our industry have.

    Something that I think Billy and others who step out like him share in attitude might be summed up best by something I always try to remember;

    “What other people think of me is none of my business.”

  • You’re absolutely right… sloppy isn’t and shouldn’t be acceptable no matter the size of the company. Sadly I have seen and honestly I’ve worked for a company with half broken down equipment and dented up vehicles with no company marking… nothing worse then pulling into the driveway of a customer when you are driving a company vehicle that looks like it should be in the junk yard. On the flip side I’ve worked for a company that had it all together… uniforms, vehicles, equipment.

    (BTW I can’t stand to wear a tie either.)

    “What other people think of me is none of my business.” – Great quote, well worth remembering.

  • John R

    Ok he looks like he would be more at home at a gay biker bar. My question is does he portray a professional image in the work he does? Most of the time I like what I see him doing….every now and then I see him doing some of the stupidest things imaginable! Like wearing little to no P.P.E.! Telling people what he is using is organic and therefore “Safe” and what’s up with bringing his stoner brother who is allergic to bee stings with him on every bee call! I work with the DOD in pest control, and have been to the same school he went to so I know he knows better! One last thing if you are going to include snakes in your service stop yelling “Holey Crap!” Every time you see one! That said he has bigger ones than I do “Or less sense” with some of the jobs he takes on.

  • ***That said he has bigger ones than I do “Or less sense” with some of the jobs he takes on.***

    On the show he has said that there are certain jobs they do because no one else will (i.e. removal of dead animals).

  • Bigbrythebugguy

    My answer is no, and not that he doesnt know what he is doing he does.
    I have a wife, kids,and animals and like it or not(and pc or not )I have to judge someone on their first impression.
    Mr Billy is funny silly and knows his stuff but I would stop him at the door and choose a person who is a lot more proffessional and clean looking.
    Besides we have enough issues in our industry than to have to battle that image.
    No offense to Billy he is laughing all the way to the bank

  • Please tell me you don’t have a blog– I don’t need anymore common sense for competition!

    Great insight and point of view.

  • Pingback: Billy The Exterminator And The Benefit Of Doubt()

  • Nice blog and very good article too. Its really informative. Thanks for sharing with all.

  • Thank you,
    Oh Billy garners some attention. I’m thinking about a hat and studs myself. 😉