Do you have an ongoing pest problem?
Pest control should be left to the pros for a variety of reasons. This is particularly true if the pest problem is ongoing, if the infestation has become large, or if the products needed for control are only authorized for use by certified professionals. When you do need to hire a professional, you may be wondering how to choose the best pest control company for you and your needs. As with hiring many contractors there are some questions you should be prepared to ask in order to ensure you are hiring a reliable and professional pest control company.
Pest Control Technician
Before allowing the pest control provider to enter your home, ask to see their identification, license, and certification, and check to ensure it is current. Almost every state requires that technicians be certified and that they participate in annual training to keep the license current. If they cannot provide this to you, move on to the next exterminator service.
Is the company licensed, bonded and insured? This can be important to both protect your property and protect against liability. Companies can provide you with this information and should be very willing to do so. Visit the company’s website. Does it appear professional? Is it knowledgeable? Do its values correspond with your own?
The technician, or sales representative, should be knowledgeable enough to answer your pest control questions. There may be a question or two that he does not know off-hand, and, if so, he should be willing to say he will find out and let you know. It is better to hear an honest “I don’t know, but I’ll find out,” than to be given a wrong or made-up answer.
When the technician comes to your door, their uniform and overall appearance should be clean and professional. The truck, equipment, and chemicals should also provide you with a secure feeling of professionalism. It may be a red flag if a person in street clothes and a personal vehicle show up at your door, claiming to be a professional pest control company. For the safety of your home and property, we suggest looking a bit harder for an exterminator if you experience this.
Pest Control References
Before calling a pest control company, ask friends and neighbors for referrals. Check with your state pest control association or visit www.npma.com for a state-by-state list of providers. It is always wise to check any company with the Better Business Bureau. Google, Yelp and Angie’s List also provide a wealth of online reviews. If you did not receive any personal recommendations, you may want to ask the provider for references—and follow up with calls to the customers provided.
The lowest price is not always the best deal. If a company says it will solve your problem in one service for a flat rate, and your problem still exists after you’ve paid for that service, you haven’t saved any money. Instead, you will most likely need to start over with another extermination service provider and end up paying a great deal more than if you had chosen quality over price in the first place.
Consultation Regarding Pest Problem
Before attempting any service, the technician should talk with you to discuss exactly what the problem is, find out where and what you’ve seen or heard, and ask probing questions to ensure they fully understand the pest problem. Following that discussion, the pest control technician should inspect your home or building through a professional eye, identify the pest or pests, and set a treatment plan. At this time, the technician should also be able to provide you with an estimate based on the details of your extermination needs, in order to allow you to make an educated decision about the services you are about to receive, or the opportunity to decline them.
Pest Control Contract
If you are hiring a company for ongoing service, discuss your options with the technician, or sales representative. Will quarterly service take care of the problem? Or do you need monthly service? Perhaps you will start with monthly, or more frequent, service to eliminate the problem, then drop to a less frequent maintenance schedule once it is solved. Be sure to read the contract carefully, understand all fine print, and ask questions before you sign on the line.
Pesticides and Chemicals
In many cases, the technician will use chemicals for elimination, but he should be willing to discuss the chemicals he expects to use, any possible adverse effects and any non-chemical options. All chemical containers should be labeled and have a clean, professional appearance. Upon request, the technician should be able to provide a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and specimen label for each chemical used. This is especially important to discuss for homeowners with pets, children or health issues!
Documentation of Pest Services
After completing service, the technician should provide a report detailing the service performed, any necessary follow-up action, and any customer advice. The report should also detail the service costs. In the age of technology, you should expect a professional invoice. The days of a carbon copy receipt that say “Ant Extermination- $150” with “thank-you” scrolled across the bottom of the receipt are long gone.
Future Pest Control Recommendations
At some point during service, the technician should make recommendations for future prevention. Depending on the service being performed, it is possible that this could come before, during, or after service. For example, if the inspection reveals a potential pest harborage area, the technician should inform you and recommend immediate clean-up. If a structural issue is found, the technician may wait until the end and recommend maintenance, such as screen replacement or repairing of holes.
Many pest control companies offer guarantees, even if it is as simple as “Guaranteed satisfaction.” Be sure to read the fine print of this as well, know what your responsibilities are. A guarantee will do no good if you don’t know how you can follow-up on their promises if you are not satisfied with their services.