How Much Pest Control Do You Let Your Customers Do?

Recently on a trip to the Pacific Northwest I was reminded of a service that I thought had gone by the wayside and I just took for granted that it was now my lifelong task. I pulled into a gas station and before I could unbuckle my seat belt there was a man at my window peering in at me. I was of course startled and he obviously wanted something from me so I nervously rolled down the window not sure what he would say.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out I wasn’t being car jacked & all he wanted was to pump my gas but still it raised some questions. At first I still wanted to pump my own gas thinking this guy was gonna charge me extra. I thought about going to another station but he told me it was the law in Oregon and when I saw another car also being serviced by an attendant- I relaxed and let him do his job but still I had questions and as always- they came back to pest control. (it must’ve been the fumes)

We Even Forget The Good

I remember gas attendants very well growing up but I had thought they went out with the dinosaurs. They would raise the hood & check the oil, clean the windshield, check tire pressures & oh yes, even “fill er up” with gas. It was a great service and a major reason you’d pick one station over another was if someone treated you better than the other guy. This is still a major reason people choose services today including pest control. Now I don’t know why this service went away for most of us but I will tell you I don’t even miss it. Even with all those fantastic little extras they did I have no interest in ‘Full Serve’ and I’m not exactly sure why. Time, control, cheaper prices who knows?, I’d just rather do it myself. So while not the perfect analogy, it does set up my question of “How much pest control do you let your customers do?”

The Lure Of Self Serve & A Lesson Learned

A few years back I had a customer with a huge german roach infestation. She lived in a small single wide mobile home and these roaches had the run of the place. She had birds and pets and of course this impeded some progress as she didn’t want a lot of sprays. She liked how I approached my service and the care I took around her home. Baits back then weren’t very good but she wanted fresh dabs in each drawer every month because she was convinced it was helping out tremendously.

She was a nice lady don’t get me wrong but a bit of a complainer none the less. I have a policy now but not back then of no complaint service for german roach accounts with monthly service. There’s just no point 99% of the time. Like I said, it wasn’t a standard then and this lady took advantage quite often. I was a very small company in those days so I wasn’t pressed for time but the cost of gas and chemical hurt a bit. On one such visit I guess I was a little frustrated and towards the end I gave this lady a syringe of bait and told her to use it in between my regular visits. My thinking was instead of calling me she would simply apply some bait when she saw a roach. Heck, since I wasn’t thrilled with the stuff I didn’t mind the couple dollar investment just to keep me from running out there on complaints.

Much to my surprise when I called her for the next ‘regular (paying) visit’ she proudly canceled her service. When I asked her why she simply stated “why do I need you when I’ve got the bait and can do it myself.” This shocked me, even with my good service she’s canceling? I made up my mind to never give anybody any chemical again. Truth be told I haven’t always lived up to that promise and I still get burned every decade or so. (I’m such a sucker)

What Do You Do?

So what do you say when a client asks for a little spray or says they’ll do some pest control in between? Do you let them buy some product or do you give em a hand full of glue boards to save yourself a trip? Has anyone pulled this or something similar on you? I can’t be the only fool can I? Don’t answer that! Since my lesson way back then I hardly ever give anything away except advice. How bout you giving me and the rest of us some of yours on how you handle this situation? Our ears are wide open so go ahead and ‘fill er up.’

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. 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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  • Mel

    IPM! I make reccomendations and a lot of my customers do pest control (sanitation, habitat mod, exclusion) without realizing it.

  • Exterminatorsrock

    there was an episode of king of the hill where hank, with nothing to do, turned over all his jars of bolts and screws just so he could reorganize them and thus…giving himself something to do.

    when i went out on a termite quote, i thought i had met such a man.  he was retired and had tons of completed projects all around the house. during my explaination of treatment, i saw his face light up.  he began asking specifics like “exactly how deep does the trench need to be?” “how far apart do the holes in the porch need to be” basically he wanted to have it ready to treat so that all i had to do was squirt it.

    or so i thought…

    seems he had bought termidor from a do it yourself pest control place online and and i just told the guy (for free) how he needed to treat it.

  • Ha! That is PRICELESS. I guess there is no end or shame.

  • You are a sneaky man! Don’t let em figure out or you’ll be rebating them $$. 😉

  • Mel

    In the last year I have had similar experiances. A huge attic and crawl rodent inspection for a realtor. It took me between an hour and a half to two hours to complete. Then came the questions like your guy exclude where, why? Traps placed where?  Can you draw a graph for me? “Thanks for the information I think I’ll be hiring some mexicans to do the work” I was furious, stuck to my guns and with encouragment from the owner of the pest control firm, I insisted on a trip charge. Even though she paid I still felt like it was Two to three hours of my day wasted on someone looking for a freebie.  There is a difference between someone taking bids and someone fishing for information those who want to do it themselves should figure it out themselves or pay for our consultation.

  • Both of those stories remind me of a good sized hand full that I have myself. I guess this phenomenon is not unique to me after-all.  😉

    Thank God I’m not alone