Translating Pest Control Instructions; Please Help

I rarely ask for anyones help when it comes to pest control service. It’s not that I have all the answers or am so smart. (just this week I had a customer call me anything but 😉 No, I just enjoy the thrill of figuring out mysteries and putting the pieces together to solve what seemed impossible. But after 30 years (almost), of this great career I must admit, I have a growing problem that I have never gotten the handle on no matter how hard I’ve tried or how many times I’ve seen it come up.

So here I am today, asking for your assistance. I don’t know if this predicament affects other pest professionals out there but I suspect it does. It’s not an epidemic problem by any means but enough where I see it come up sometimes as much as 2 or 3 times per week. For years I ignored it but each episode means lost time and money. So even if you’ve not run into this dilemma yourself, perhaps you can look at it from another angle or a new prospective and help me out.

It’s Not What You Say

You see the vicious cycle I find myself in doesn’t involve service so much as it does my communication. Many people just aren’t grasping, for whatever reason, the instructions I give after each and every service. Like I’ve said, I’ve been at this for a long time so my message has changed a little here and there but it’s been essentially the same for 3 decades. If anything it’s been honed down to the most ‘blatant & oversimplified’ set of directives but still seems so ineffectual. Honestly, I’m not sure if sometimes people are just ignoring me or it’s some sort of secret plot just to bypass what I’ve said to get what they want. So I’m constantly amazed at the different things my customers think they hear and I’m now at my wits end on how to combat it.

It’s What They Hear

I say – “It’ll run anywhere from 5 to 600”
They hear – “You said 500, can you do less?”

I say – “We’re booked til Tuesday”
They hear – “Someone will be out this afternoon”

I say – “You have to search your pantry for the box of food with weevils in it”
They hear – “you’re gonna empty the whole closet for me & put things back”

I say – “An occasional bug has got to be expected but call me if it gets out of hand”
They hear – ‘You said to call you if I saw ANY bugs, are you coming out today?”

I say – “Fleas are an extra charge”
They hear – “You said your service kills any bug why should I pay more?”

I say – “We’ll be there between 10 & 12”
They hear – It’s 12 noon & you’re late – or- it’s only 10 am, you’re not due til 12”

I say – “All new customers or homes have to have a clean out svc. at an additional fee”
They hear – “You’ve treated this house for 7 years why do you need to charge more for my new home?”

I say – “Everybody needs to stay out of the home for an hour after my flea job”
They hear – “Let the dogs in, Jerry just finished spraying”

I say – “I do termite work as well as pest control”
They hear – “I didn’t know you did termite so I called XYZ and boy that job was expensive”

So unless I’m speaking Swahili, I don’t see the problem. But if you can tell me how to get my point across in any better way, unlike my customers –

I’m all ears.

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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  • They hear what they want to hear! Period and you can’t stop that from happening.. Sorry…

  • What if I spoke backwards?

  • Mel

    I think you should tell customers,  same day non life or death service, fleas, emptying closets, violating the re-entry period, or assignment of termite work to others, etc will cost $5,000. Sure they wont pay it but it will get their attention so you can re-explain whatever needs to be addressed.

  • Stuto1

    Good Idea.

  • Stuto1

    Bingo! They hear what they want to hear or want. 

  • This happens to me all the time, let me know when a solution has been made!  🙂

    Karl the BugMan
    Columbus Ohio Bedbug Control

  • I love Mel’s idea!– I think I’ll get some t-shirts made up with that on the back… 😉

  • “Bingo” is the perfect word for the old folks round here!

  • You’re a genius!

  • Exterminatorsrack

    the government gave loads of money to scientists to determine IF the national IQ has dropped.

    pretty sure they coulda gave it to exterminators and got the same answer for a whole lot cheaper

    but that, in itself, answers the question for them

  • Now they’ll need boat loads more $$ to study the answers. They call it ‘stimulus’ 😉

  • Grant

    ha! i have had each of these happen to me !, every single one… even here in Sydney Australia, customers hear what they want to hear… so i’ve learnt to make it very clear on the paperwork.. especially when a follow up treatment is needed..

  • That’s good advice– even if they don’t read it, they can’t say you didn’t tell em.