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JULY AUGUST 2011

FOR MEMBERS ONLY OF THE NATIONAL PEST MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION

WWW.NPMAPESTWORLD.ORG

The Technology Issue ALSO INSIDE:

» Leveraging Technology to Grow Your Business » Managing Your Office and Using Technology to Create a Successful Pest Management Company


contents JULY AUGUST 2011

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Canine Scent Detection Certification Testing

F E AT U R E S

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Because of the labor intensive nature of visual bed bug inspections, canine bed bug scent detection teams have gained popularity to indentify infestations and verify that treatment measures have been successful. Performance testing of canine scent detection teams confirms the team’s competence by an independent third party evaluator by demonstrating the canine team’s ability to perform an accurate search for live bed bugs and viable eggs.

LEVERAGING TECHNOLOGY TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS Tips and tricks for PMPs on the cutting edge By Paula L. Yoho Forward-looking PMPs are capitalizing on existing and emerging technologies to increase their efficiency and effectiveness, and even to help grow their business. This month, we look at just a few ways you can do precisely that for your own pest management company.

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MANAGING YOUR OFFICE AND USING TECHNOLOGY TO CREATE A SUCCESSFUL PEST MANAGEMENT COMPANY By Daniel S. Gordon, CPA As the information age matures, information moves more quickly, the quantity has increased and it needs to be dealt with in a much more efficient manner. Setting up an office in a correct and efficient way is paramount to succeeding in the Pest Control business. So, where do you start?

D E PA R T M E N T S

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Executive Vice President’s Message

14 Pest Focus 18 Marketing Corner

22 Operations Management 24 Calendar of Events

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EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE

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ou hear it every year: Come to PestWorld! See the newest and best the industry has to offer. Learn about the latest research and technologies. Come for the networking and the motivation. Well, there’s a reason you hear this every year: It’s all true. From the packed exhibit hall to the popular educational sessions to the camaraderie at the receptions, parties, and golf courses, PestWorld is the best opportunity you’ll have all year to plug into what’s happening in the pest management industry. The reasons to attend PestWorld, to be held this year in New Orleans, October 19–22, are tangible and intangible. What’s tangible is the knowledge you’ll gain not only by attending any of the educational sessions, but by the business opportunities you’ll discover as you wend your way through aisles of exhibitors and talk to over 3,000 pest management professionals. The Exhibit Hall: If you’ve been to PestWorld in recent years, you know the excitement you feel when you set foot into the exhibit hall for the first time. There are aisle after aisle of manufacturers and distributors vying for your attention, eager to show you the newest and the best products and technology. If you’re looking for something specific, you’ll find it, along with several variations and choices. And you’ll find friendly, knowledgeable company reps who can answer any questions you have. Education: In addition to learning what’s new in the exhibit hall, you’ll have the opportunity to learn from the industry and academic experts about both new and tried-and-true practices in many areas of the industry by attending any of the educational sessions. There are many opportunities for you to enhance your skills and learn something new. Networking: Sure, you go to PestWorld to see the people you know, many of whom you haven’t seen since last year’s event. But there are so many opportunities to meet people you don’t know and expand your business contacts. Every year, PestWorld has first-time exhibitors, first-time attendees, people you haven’t met yet. You don’t know yet all the people whose association might prove valuable to your business. PestWorld gives you many chances to meet these people—on the show floor, at receptions, on the golf course. Motivation: Attending PestWorld is a great way to recharge your professional batteries and get motivated about your business. Nowhere else do you meet such a large number of people all interested and excited about developments in the pest management industry. It’s easy to get locked into a routine as you practice business as usual for most of the year. But at PestWorld, you’ll find yourself charged up and passionate about the industry as you share your views and opinions with people just like yourself. As for the intangible benefits, well, it’s a sort of feeling you get as you mingle and network with your fellow pest management professionals--whether you’re reconnecting with old friends, or making new contacts. Every year, PestWorld brings together all the players in the pest management industry—PMPs, manufacturers, vendors, distributors—everyone who calls this business their business. One thing’s for certain—everyone leaves PestWorld with something that they didn’t arrive with. You don’t want to miss it. Visit www.npmapestworld.org/pestworld2011/index.cfm to register.

EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT Rob Lederer EDITOR Janay Rickwalder GRAPHIC DESIGN Blue House

© 2011 National Pest Management Association PestWorld is the bi-monthly publication of the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). Editorial Offices: 10460 North Street, Fairfax, VA 22030 Phone: (703) 352-6762 or (800) 678-6722 Fax: (703) 352-3031 Professional and Member Web site: www.npmapestworld.org Consumer Web site: www.pestworld.org

For advertising information, call Janay Rickwalder at (571) 224-0384 or e-mail jrickwalder@pestworld.org.

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The term “high tech� is not one commonly associated with the pest management industry, and for many small structural pest management companies, the latest and greatest computer gadgets are pretty low on the priority list. 4

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LEVERAGING TECHNOLOGY TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS: Tips and tricks for PMPs on the cutting edge BY PAULA L. YOHO

Forward-looking PMPs, however, are capitalizing on existing and emerging technologies to increase their efficiency and effectiveness, and even to help grow their business. This month, we look at just a few ways you can do precisely that for your own pest management company. Navigating toward success Since becoming widely available for corporate use, many PMPs have embraced GPS (global positioning system) technology to better manage their vehicle fleets. Relatively inexpensive and easily-implemented, a GPS system is scalable to meet the needs of any company size. An early adopter of the GPS boom was Michael Rottler, president of Rottler Pest and Lawn Solutions in St. Louis. “We’ve got a fleet of 90 trucks, and we’ve put GPS in everything,” said Rottler, a past NPMA president. “When I first got into it in 2002, I only did new hires and anybody who’d gotten in an accident in the last twelve months.” Then, about three years ago, Rottler was approached by a vendor offering a special incentive program in which the initial investment was subsidized in exchange for a long-term contract. He decided to outfit every company vehicle with the service and, in the years since, has become a champion of the technology and frequent presenter on the topic at seminars and webinars.

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MARRYING GPS TO FUEL BILLS allowed us to track where [fuel] was being wasted and when our drivers were idling and burning gas without ever moving the vehicle. Now, we get an alert if a vehicle idles for more than 5 minutes. “A lot of companies look at GPS and think, ‘I’m going to get increased productivity and a bunch of new sales just because I put GPS in a technician’s vehicle,’” Rottler said. “To some degree, I think those things can be accomplished, but I try to warn them not to fall blindly in love with technology.” Though the typical GPS sales pitch is likely to promise ‘your money back in six months,’ Rottler cautions PMPs not to believe everything they hear. “We thought that we’d be able to respond quicker when customers called because we’d be able to figure out who’s closest to the customer,” he said. “In some cases, they’re closer, but they don’t have the time to pick it up or they don’t have the right tools or chemicals to respond in an emergency. It wasn’t a flawless solution.” When his company first installed GPS in its trucks, he was met with resistance from employees who felt they were being ‘tracked’ by the company. To mitigate the discontent, he looked for ways to help the team see the new technology as an advantage. “We started allowing a lot of our employees to take their vehicle home at night, because we felt more comfortable that they were going to be parked—and if they weren’t, we could check it,” Rottler said. “So GPS was all of a sudden a benefit, because they could use their vehicle to get to and from work, which is a savings.” He has also been able to keep a better cap on fuel costs, a side benefit that proves more valuable every month as prices at the pump continue to soar. “Marrying GPS to fuel bills allowed us to track where it was being wasted and when our drivers were idling and burning gas without ever moving the vehicle,” he said. “Now, we get an alert if a vehicle idles for more than 5 minutes. We also can identify speeders, so that’s kind of a nice feature, in that you can have a discussion with somebody who’s driving 87 mph on a highway through the middle of town.” Tapping into the ‘tablet’ Many PMPs are testing out laptop and hand-held technologies to manage and promote their businesses. NPMA President Ray Johnson, president of Sevierville, Tennessee-based Johnson Pest Control, for example,

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is an outspoken proponent of the iPad, and says the device has helped his company streamline its marketing message. “The iPad has been a great piece of technology,” said Johnson. “If I were to go into my sales team right now and say, ‘Okay guys, this iPad thing is not working out and I’m taking them all up,’ I’d have a fight on my hands because it’s making their jobs easier.” Before the iPad was even available on the market, Johnson was brainstorming ideas for incorporating the device into his firm’s marketing plan. One of his first moves, once he got his hands on the new gadget, was to digitize the 15-slide paper flipchart presentation his sales team was using. “We built several different presentations into iPhoto, so my guys can now go out in the field and, if they’re talking about fleas, or roaches, or termites, or occasional pests, they can just bring up what we’ve created right there on the iPad,” he said. “It’s not like they have to have a whole bunch of outdated printed brochures, and, with digital media, we can also go back in and make changes quickly and efficiently.” Johnson has had success using the iPad to help his customers better understand the termite elimination products his company uses. Before the iPad, Johnson said, it was almost impossible to convince clients to watch an informational video on the product. Now, it is uploaded to the iPad for instant viewing. “Sometimes while you’re doing an inspection on a house, the customer will follow you around,” he said. “This way, they can be watching the video while they’re in their garage or basement, or even walking around the back of the home following the inspector.” He also uses the iPad to show customers, up-close, the kind of pest infestation they are up against. “Since the homeowner can’t always go up into an attic or crawl down into a crawlspace, we’ve always just taken pictures of termite damage with a Blackberry or digital camera and tried to show it to them on the little one-inch by one-inch square screen which is kind of hard to see,” he said. “So I thought, ‘Hmm, how can I get that picture for the customer to see on the iPad?’”

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BEFORE THE iPAD, it was almost impossible to convince clients to watch an informational video on the product. Now, it can be uploaded to the iPad for instant viewing, to help customers better understand the products used by a company. The solution? Sales inspectors take photos using their Smartphones, then e-mail them immediately to themselves on the iPad. “They can open up that e-mail on their iPad and the homeowner can instantly see what was underneath their home that they couldn’t get underneath to see,â€? explained Johnson. The real secret to being successful with the iPad, Johnson said, is making sure the message you are putting into it is clear and concise. “I tell people the very ďŹ rst thing you need to do, if you don’t have a ipchart, is to sit down and do a

storyboard,� he said. “Draw out slide number one and slide number two and so forth, and decide what your message needs to be.� Once the message is created, keeping it consistent and current across the entire sales team—and their iPads—is critical. “I think we have seven or eight iPads right now and all of those iPads are synced on my Mac computer personally,� he said. “I do it myself, they don’t sync them on their own computer, therefore I have control over the message and they can’t go in and change the message. It maintains consistency within our organization.�

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and Using Technology to Create a Successful Pest Management Company BY DANIEL S. GORDON, CPA The way you go about setting up your office is vital to enabling your organization. Everything from filing systems to intercom configurations can make your company’s workforce efficient and productive. Think through every minute detail, from the flow of traffic through the office to the positioning of phone and data jacks. When you’re a small company, what you do is pest control. Maybe you’re a one-man show, so you organize yourself and your truck and your route and the world is pretty simple from the office prospective.

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If you can increase productivity with technology, then it is worth it. There are many great nice-to-have technologies out there. The key is to make sure costs are under control and you don’t spend a ton of time getting the technology to work. Don’t be fooled because the price is right. As you get bigger, you need to think about how you organize your office. Think about the workflow of your business and how that impacts your office. Remember, there are two areas of consideration in office set up: 1. It’s the physical setup, meaning office space, desks, chairs, water coolers, phones, faxes, computers, etc. 2. The other aspect of office set up is the dynamic flow of information. This means incoming calls, voicemails, emails, instant messaging, intercoms, escalating and filing paperwork, and other such activity driven facets of the office. As the information age matures, what we’ve noticed is that information moves quickly, the quantity has increased and it needs to be dealt with in a much more efficient manner. Setting up an office in a correct and efficient way is paramount to succeeding in the pest control business. So, where do you start? Ask yourself some questions about how your business operates: ■ When the phone calls come in, whom do they go to and how are they answered? ■ How is the technician or salesperson that goes out to the customer informed? ■ How is work posted? ■ What paperwork (or paperless information) comes back to the office after the service is performed? ■ How do you file that paperwork (or paperless information)? ■ How do you bill the customer? ■ How do you process payments? This is merely a small sampling of the activities that needs to be considered. Think through your company’s specific workflow and plan your office accordingly. What’s all this about the Cloud? Everybody is talking about the cloud. What does it mean and what can it do for you? In the simplest of terms the cloud refers to computer programs that are available on the Internet. It allows small companies to utilize programs that were once available to only

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larger companies who could afford the purchase of the software and an IT professional to deploy the software on local computers. Usually these software programs are used to manage workflow, perform accounting and mange your customers as well as other aspects of your business. They are usually purchased on a subscription basis paid monthly. Price is usually based on the complexity of the program and the number of users. What about backups, security and maintenance? If purchased from a reputable software as a service (Saas) provider, your data is safer than if you kept it in your office as it is usually hosted in a professionally managed server farm using data encryption. Remember though, as with any computer program, the weakest link in terms of security is sharing passwords. Cloud computing is the next chapter in the information age. Just look at some of the most popular software. Microsoft offers their office products online using the remote hosting model and bills usage monthly. The most popular accounting software for small businesses, Quickbooks has developed a browser based program call Quickbooks Online. At first it only appealed to techies. Now many small businesses subscribe and in a few short years more that half of my accounting clients use this platform. If you are still using local versions of Quickbooks watch out. My guess is that within five or so years, the online version will be the Intuit’s primary accounting package. Technology can be Your BEST Friend or Your WORST Enemy! Cell phones, PDAs, GPS devices, laptops… you name it. There are all sorts of technology tools available that can increase productivity and enable your business. On the other hand, poor planning, lack of knowledge, or improper application of technology can sink your business. The key is finding the right places to implement technology solutions and determine the best way to implement it. If you can increase productivity with technology, then it is worth it. There are many great nice-to-have

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The ONLY reason to use technology should be to help improve upon your business. If the technology doesn’t move you closer to your business goal, then perhaps you should hold off on the initiative. technologies out there. The key is to make sure costs are under control and you don’t spend a ton of time getting the technology to work. This is an important point. Don’t be fooled because the price is right for the software or hardware. Keep in mind that there may be hidden costs coming down the road when you have to hire a tech guru to install the system and maintain it. You can’t have technology run your business. If you don’t have will power and discipline, then you may just find yourself implementing technology for the sake of implementing technology. This is not what you want to do. Technological solutions must be deployed to serve a business need. The ONLY reason to use technology should be to help improve upon your business. If the technology doesn’t move you closer to your business goal, then perhaps you should hold off on the initiative. Develop Checklists to Cover All Your Bases Checklists are a business’ best friend! This is how you ensure that oversights and errors are eliminated. All systems need the proper controls in place in order to make them airtight and dependable. It’s not enough to just cross your tasks off a list. You have to have a spot where someone initials it so you know who did it. You need to record the date when the task was completed. And then make note of any follow up that’s necessary. Here’s an example of the items listed on a checklist used to do a closeout at the end of each month: 1. Run a sales report that shows revenue by service. 2. Print out a payment report with all the deposits made. 3. Print a sales tax report to show which jurisdictions you have collected sales tax in and who you have to remit to. 4. Take all that information and journalize it into your general ledger system. 5. Look through each account step by step to make sure everything was coded correctly. 6. Once you know that all the work has been posted, create customer statements and send them out.

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7. Make sure the renewals for the upcoming months get sent out. 8. After the close is done, produce all the reports that tell you exactly what you’ve produced, how much money you have, who owes you money and who you owe money to. Checklists can be used for many of your processes. For instance, a valuable checklist in the pest control business is an end-of-day checklist for technicians to submit when they come in at night. This will determine if everything that was supposed to be covered WAS actually covered. This will also point out any follow-ups that are necessary on the part of the technician, a manager, or anyone else. Checklists are a great way to take a lot of the stress out of the day. Any structure you can provide is helpful to both the individual and the organization. You want to make the day boring. Today has to be just like yesterday and the day before so that you don’t have to reinvent your business everyday. Boring is good when it comes to processing repetitive tasks. The information age is well under way, it’s those companies that embrace it and figure out how to use it efficiently to make more money that will prosper in the years to come.

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Daniel S. Gordon is a CPA in New Jersey and owns an accounting firm that caters to PCOs throughout the United States. Visit www.pcobookkeepers.com for information about his firm, PCO Bookkeepers. He can be reached at dan@pcobookkeepers.com

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N P M A L I B R A RY U P D AT E

CANINE SCENT DETECTION

CERTIFICATION TESTING JULY/AUGUST 2011

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he ability of canines to detect, discriminate and track odors is remarkable. Canines have the ability to detect odorant concentration levels at 1–2 parts per trillion (Walker et al. 2006), significantly better than their human handlers. Many law enforcement, military and government agencies utilize scent detection canines to identify and locate people, explosives, fire accelerants, narcotics, contraband items and many other odors. In the pest management industry, canine teams have been employed for years to identify termites and more recently, bed bug infestations in structures. In the last decade, bed bug infestations have increased dramatically. In a recent National Pest Management Association (NPMA) survey, pest management professionals who reported annually receiving 1–2 bed bug calls a decade ago are now reporting 1–2 calls (or more) each week (Potter et al. 2010). In the same survey, 76% of professionals consider bed bugs the most difficult pest to control. One of the complicating factors in bed bug control is the cryptic nature of both nymphs and adults, which spend the majority of their time hiding in cracks and crevices near their feeding sites. In addition, bed bug eggs and nymphs are often difficult to detect due to their small size. Both cryptic behavior and small size make visual inspection efforts by pest management professionals difficult, time consuming and inexact. Because of the labor intensive nature of visual bed bug inspections, canine bed bug scent detection teams have gained popularity to indentify infestations and verify that treatment measures have been successful. Canines use their keen sense of smell, to help handlers target inspections, eliminating the slow process of visually inspecting (and often disassembling) furniture, beds and other features in the room. Canines are an extremely useful tool for bed bug detection due to their ability to detect extremely low-level infestations, their relative speed compared to human inspectors, their ability to perform searches in non-traditional locations and their proven accuracy. In

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a controlled experiment in a hotel room, Pfiester et al. (2008) documented that trained canine teams were 98% accurate in finding bed bugs in hotel rooms. Canine Scent Detection Certification The National Pest Management Association Bed Bug Best Management Practices (BMPs) provides guidance for pest management professionals and consumers regarding bed bugs, and specifically addresses the practice of canine scent detection. Most importantly, the document stresses the need for canine team performance testing and certification. Performance testing of canine scent detection teams confirms the team’s competence by an independent third party evaluator by demonstrating the canine team’s ability to perform an accurate search for live bed bugs and viable eggs. In addition, certification testing demonstrates the handler’s ability to accurately interpret the canine’s changes in behavior and final response associated with bed bug odor and confirms the canine’s ability to differentiate the target odor from other odors present in the search area. The BMPs state that all canine scent detection teams performing bed bug inspections should be certified by an independent third party evaluator according to the Minimum Guidelines for Canine Scent Detection Testing outlined in Appendix A of the BMPs. At a minimum, canine teams must be able to detect live bed bugs and viable eggs. The test should include distractors, or non-target odor sources in the search area that test the ability of the canine to differentiate the odor of bed bugs from other odors that they may encounter. Distractors may include (but are not limited to) food, toys, other insects, dead bugs or other commonly encountered things that the team may encounter in the search area. During the test, canine teams are tasked with identifying the location of hidden bed bugs or eggs. The use of bed bug odor extracts or chemicals that mimic the odor of bed bugs (pseudoscents) are prohibited from being used during the testing process. The location where the test is performed should mimic real-life scenarios, using actual locations where bed bugs could be encountered. Naturally, all testing areas should be inspected to make sure that they are free of “wild” bed bugs before the test starts. In addition, the potential for airflow between testing rooms must be taken into consideration and controlled for by the evaluator to limit the likelihood of cross contamination of odors from one room to the next. The BMPs also provide guidance defining the credentials of the evaluators who perform the test. Bed bug scent detection certification tests should include two evaluators. The evaluators should not be the person who performed the initial training of the canine or someone who is affiliated with the pest management firm of the team being tested. At least one of the evaluators should have at least five years of experience in scent detection canine handling and or evaluation in law enforcement, government agency, military or other comparable experience.

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Canine Teams The concept of teamwork is manifested in the close working relationship between handler and canine. Without human handlers interpreting the behavioral changes in their canine counterparts, canines have little value as bed bug detectors. In fact the concept of the canine team is so important that the BMPs require that canine/handler teams be certified together. If multiple handlers are assigned to perform inspection with a single canine, each combination of canine and handler must be tested individually. If a single handler works with multiple canines, the same rule applies. The reason for this requirement is that each canine has unique, often subtle, behavioral cues that indicate that it has detected a target odor, so handlers need to be trained and tested for


N P M A L I B R A RY U P D AT E

When choosing who will perform the certification testing and provide the credential for your canine team, there are many factors to consider, not the least of which are the qualifications of the evaluators and the testing protocols and procedures employed.

work with each canine. In the same way that the BMPs do not provide for certification of individual handlers or canines, individual companies are not able to be certified either. Choosing an Evaluator Scent detection canine certification testing can be provided by an organized body or individual evaluators. When choosing who will perform the certification testing and provide the credential for your canine team, there are many factors to consider, not the least of which are the qualifications of the evaluators and the testing protocols and procedures employed. Interview the evaluators or organization representatives to determine if their testing protocols are in line with the Minimum Standards for Certification Testing (BMP Appendix A). Request a copy of testing materials in writing before the test date so that your team can be prepared and you can compare them to the BMPs. Keep in mind that many organizations may have testing standards that are more stringent than the BMPs. The BMPs are meant to provide a minimum guideline, so stricter standards are perfectly acceptable. It’s also a good practice to ask about the credentials and experience of the individuals that will be performing the testing to make sure that qualify. Some additional questions to ask the evaluator might include: ■ What kind of written proof or credentials will be provided to the team upon successful completion of the test? Will the credential indicate that the test was performed in accordance with the BMPs? ■ What are the fees associated with testing? What are the fees for re-certification? ■ Are there additional resources or services available from the evaluator such as training advice, networking, or support? ■ Will evaluators come to your location to perform the testing, or will the canine team need to travel to the test site? ■ If there is a disagreement with regard to the results of the test or the evaluator’s assessment, what is the process for dispute resolution? ■ What if a team fails? Can they test again immediately, or is there a waiting period required to allow for retraining before re-testing?

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Reach out to other members of National Pest Management Association or state associations to get references for potential evaluators. Ask them about the testing procedure: Was the testing procedure easy to understand? Was the test what they expected relative to what was described by the evaluator? It is also important to avoid real or perceived conflicts of interest when choosing an evaluator. Evaluators should be independent, third party, neutral observers with nothing to gain or lose if a team passes (or fails) the certification test. Evaluators who have an stake in your business, such as business partners, current trainers or others who have an interest in the canine, handler or business should be avoided. What About Other Scents? Certification testing is available for other pest management scent detection disciplines including termite, carpenter ants, and rodents. There are currently no BMPs or minimum testing guidelines for these disciplines, however the same considerations for choosing an evaluator should apply. For more information about the NPMA Best Management Practices for Bed Bugs and the Minimum Standards for Canine Scent Detection Team Certification, or to view the most recent version of the BMPs, visit: http://www.npmapestworld.org/publicpolicy/BedBugs.cfm

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References Pfiester, M., P.G. Koehler and R.M. Pereira. 2008. Ability of Bed Bug-Detecting Canines to Locate Live Bed Bugs and Viable Bed Bug Eggs. Journal of Economic Entomology 101: 1389–1396. Potter, M.F., B. Rosenberg and M. Henriksen. 2010. Bugs without borders: defining the global bed bug resurgence. National Pest Management Association, Fairfax, VA Walker D. B., J.C. Walker, P.J. Cavnar, J.L. Taylor, D.H. Pickel, S.B. Hall and J.C. Suarez. 2006. Naturalistic quantification of canine olfactory sensitivity. Applied Animal Behavioral Science 97: 241–254.

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BLOOD FEEDERS BY DAMISI BAILEY

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utside of the pest control industry, “blood feeder” evokes visions of mystical, ageless creatures who walk in the dark of night and survive by feasting solely on the blood of mammals. Realistically, how far does this depiction stray from the actual definition of a blood feeder; within the pest control industry or otherwise? When pest management professionals speak of blood feeders, they may be referring to one of three insects: fleas, mosquitoes and bed bugs. Ticks are also a usual suspect but are not insects; rather they are members of the arachnids in super family Ixodoidea. You may ask, why all of the hype or fuss concerning these tiny bugs? The simple answer is human health. These arthropods have been deemed as unwanted pests that invade our homes, feed on our blood and, in many cases, threaten human health. As PMPs, we have to understand the historical significance of these aforementioned arthropods. This article will focus on the flea and the mosquito. Each has had a profound affect on the quality of life for many of our ancestors as well they each have contributed to numerous deaths throughout history. Therefore a continued study through progressive research is required to understand life cycle evolutions, points of entry and to identify al-

ternate viable hosts in hopes of preserving human health through control and or eradication when necessary. The Flea When many historians speak of Europe’s Black Plague during its various peaks, images of towns overrun with rodents seems to flood the imagination. First mentioned images of rats concerning the Black Plague are somewhat fair assessments. It is the rodent’s body that initially harnesses the disease. But the true culprit and distributor of this horrible disease was the flea. The flea takes a blood meal from the rodent which allows the disease to transfer from the rodent into the flea. As the rodent travels near humans, the fleas then gains access to an alternate host and food source—human blood. As the flea injects its proboscis into the human, it must regurgitate a small portion of the infected blood from the rodent. This is how the disease is introduced into the human system. World Health Organization statistics accredit better living conditions, targeted antibiotics, and improved sanitation practices for the mortality decline over the last century. While there are still hundreds of bubonic cases reported annually around the world, the pest control industry in conjunction with entomological research stands in the gap to maintain control and act as prohibitors of pandemic outbreak. Mosquitoes Another blood feeder with a timeless history of human health degradation is the Mosquito. Ancient writ-

Image courtesy of Neal R Chamberlain © 2003

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You may ask, why all of the hype or fuss concerning these tiny bugs? The simple answer is human health. These arthropods have been deemed as unwanted pests that invade our homes, feed on our blood and, in many cases, threaten human health. ings document Malaria symptoms and deaths as early as 2700 B.C. and a continued presence even into the twentyfirst century. World Health Organization records show 1,500 American cases reported in 2009. This number is remedial in comparison to 247 million cases reported from Africa during the same time period. And, of those cases in Africa, one million reported deaths. While these numbers seem drastic and discouraging, the war has been waged and these astronomic figures are actually a representation of decreased mortality. It wasn’t until the latter part of the nineteenth century that French surgeon Charles Louis Alphonse Laveran discovered parasites in the blood of a malaria patient. Soon after, Camillo Golgi, an Italian neurophysiologist, was able to identify at least two forms of the disease: tertian periodicity (fever every other day) and quartan periodicity (fever every third day). Both men would eventually receive the Nobel Peace Prize for their discoveries. To date, countless hours have been invested by many talented and dedicated scientists, in hopes of eventually eliminating the threat of Malaria. While much of the public focus is directed towards reacting to the threat of diseases distributed by this tiny insect; it would do you well to initiate awareness and be a proactive professional by understanding the biological life cycles, mating habits and alternate breeding sites. This information is regularly released to equip you with the necessary

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knowledge to create effective mosquito programs. A thorough assessment of the property will determine if your inspection will be confined only to the property in question. The median distance a mosquito is able to fly is charted somewhere around 0.789 miles. Therefore, adjoining properties should be inspected and only a limited warranty can be offered; even with a neighborhood or community treatment. A careful inspection should expose multiple breeding sites. Most literature points out that we inspect the obvious sites: tires, buckets, plastic kiddie pools and tree bowls; but you have to keep in mind the actual size of this insect. Conducting an inspection with an open mind allows you to visualize shaded, leaf littered gutters, bottle caps and various debris (plastic bags in particular) as potential breeding sites. These known and alternate breeding sites require only that you dispose of the debris. Mosquito inspections and treatments require time, attention to detail and ensuring you have set realistic goals of success for your customer.

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MARKETING CORNER

ARE SOCIAL COUPON WEBSITES RIGHT FOR YOUR BUSINESS? HOW THE RIGHT APPROACH CAN FIT IN WITH YOUR OVERALL MARKETING STRATEGY MISSY HENRIKSEN EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PPMA

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magine what it would be like to be able to reach thousands of potential customers directly via email and offer them your services at a discount? Enter social coupon websites, like Groupon, which have positioned themselves as the alternative to traditional advertising with promises of reaching a coveted demographic who has voluntarily signed up to receive discounted offers for a variety of life’s necessities. Seeing this as too good of a deal to pass up, small businesses of all types have signed up. And why not? Unlike traditional advertising or direct mail, the users are not only expecting the daily email, but will inevitably spend a few seconds looking at a deal even if it’s not something they would typically purchase. These websites have tapped into key characteristics of the consumer psyche—the love of a discount or a good bargain. While many companies have offered seasonal or first-time buyer discounts to customers online through their own websites, Facebook fan pages or Twitter accounts, it is important that businesses take a closer look at these booming social coupon websites as well. As one NPMA member who recently advertised an offer through Groupon said, “You can’t lose by doing it!” Coupon Websites and Their Users Groupon, undoubtedly, the most successful social coupon website to date, boasts more than 37 million subscribers in 160 plus cities across North America. The subscribers are mostly college educated men and women between the ages of 30 to 50 with a household income above $50,000. Groupon’s closest rival, LivingSocial has amassed nearly 26 million subscribers in more than 250 markets worldwide. LivingSocial subscribers skew female (60 percent), are college educated, between the ages of 35 and 49 with an income of $60,000 and above. On April 25, 2011, Facebook announced that it is introducing Deals, a direct rival to Groupon and Living-

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Social. Facebook’s entry into the online discount game will begin with “pilot” programs in five cities: Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, San Diego and San Francisco. According to The New York Times, “the company, which has more than 600 million members, said it hoped that its ability to tap directly into the communications and activities of networks of friends will help it offer a more compelling service than rivals. It will be easy to share deals with friends, see when a friend buys something and find offers that your friends are interested in. Facebook will focus on offers for things that are best done with friends, like concerts or events.” Although users will be able to receive Deals via email, they will likely also see the offers in their Facebook news feed during the day. It remains to be seen how Facebook’s Deals will change the online coupon landscape, but it is probably safe to say that if successful, Deals will have a significant impact. No matter which of these sites survive to rule the online coupon world, one thing is for sure—they offer businesses demographic jackpots and a captive audience, surpassing traditional advertising’s capabilities. How Do Social Coupon Websites Work? Consumers typically sign up for daily email notices, receive invites to purchase a discounted deal at a business and then buy the deal. Typically the businesses are customized to the buyers’ city based on the choice made by the subscriber when they signed up for the daily emails. In order to participate, businesses must be willing to discount their services by as much as 40 to 50 percent off as well as give a portion of the revenue generated to the social coupon site as commission. The percentage of discounts and commission can vary by site. The sites also do not charge an up-front cost to run a deal. However, it is important to note that businesses are not allowed to run concurrent deals with competitors. Although, participation rules are usually the same for all social coupon sites, businesses need to be sure

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they get all their questions answered and that they fully understand the terms and conditions of participation through these websites. While some sites are more popular than others, the premise is the same. Businesses need to be willing to deeply discount their services and pay a commission to the coupon website in exchange for exposure in front of numerous potential customers. How to Make Social Coupon Websites Work for Your Business? Some in the pest management industry have been quick to see the value in social coupons, leading the charge with this new marketing vehicle. In fact, a quick

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Google search using the keywords “pest control companies + Groupon,” yielded several pages of results. But how successful were those promotions or other online coupon promotions in general? According to a 2010 research report from the Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University, “How Effective Are Groupon Promotions for Businesses,” Groupon promotions were profitable for 66 percent of the businesses surveyed and unprofitable for 32 percent. The report also found that 42 percent of the businesses would not run another Groupon promotion. That finding differs from Groupon’s data which states that 95 percent of businesses would choose to run a promotion again.

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MARKETING CORNER

As consumers flock to various websites to shop, make travel arrangements, make dinner reservations, decide which business to hire for home repairs and essentially find anything and everything they need to live, businesses have to stay ahead of the curve in order to connect with those consumers. Despite the differing claims, businesses ultimately need to decide the success of a promotion and willingness to run successive ones based on their own experiences and what constitutes success for them. Take the case of an NPMA member in Arizona who is currently reaping the rewards of a recent Groupon promotion. The company offered a deal for an indoor and outdoor pest control treatment for $69, originally valued at $120. The offer was limited to new clients only and is good until October 21, 2011. As a result, 57 people bought the promotion. Not only did the company’s offer entice those 57 consumers to purchase the offer, it was seen by nearly 200,000 Groupon subscribers in the member’s metro area. Additionally, as some consumers have called to redeem the offer, the member was able to sell several termite services on top of the Groupon offer. After all, up-selling and turning one-time customers into loyal clients are the ultimate goals of businesses that participate in online coupon programs.

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How to Integrate Social Coupon Websites Into Your Marketing Strategy? As the Arizona member noted, “Social media, such as social online coupons, must be part of anyone’s general marketing strategy.” As consumers flock to various websites to shop, make travel arrangements, make dinner reservations, decide which business to hire for home repairs and essentially find anything and everything they need to live, businesses have to stay ahead of the curve in order to connect with those consumers. Whether your business has embraced social media or is still on the sidelines, social coupon websites are an easy and relatively inexpensive way to put your name in front of thousands of new customers without a long-term commitment. While you may have an email database of your current and past customers, these websites have access to thousands of consumer emails that you don’t. Think of promotions via Groupon or LivingSocial or Facebook’s Deals as just another version of the neighborhood door hanger advertising your services and discounts. Don’t Be Left Behind Marketing is a crucial part of building a successful business and companies should be willing to try new and different tactics as part of their overall marketing efforts. Some tactics become outdated and stale and when the customers move on, your business must too.

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O P E R AT I O N S M A N A G E M E N T

CELEBRATING FAILURES BY LINDA FINKLE INCEDO GROUP

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hat is the real “f ” word? It’s failure. We all want things to go perfectly—or what we perceive as perfectly. But the truth is, they don’t, always. Trying new things creates the possibility of failure. In a business landscape where the message is predominantly that “Failure is Bad,” it’s no wonder that failure is perceived as a dirty word. Now seriously, every manager, business owner, executive and employee has made mistakes and experienced what they consider failures. As human beings, it’s almost second nature to us to follow the path of lease resistance by beating ourselves up over every perceived failure and then to continually remind ourselves how often, and how badly, we’ve screwed up. There is another way. What would it look like if rather than seeing any task or action that didn’t turn out as originally planned as a “failure”, we saw each of them as learning opportunities...? What might we create? What

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opportunities might arise for us? What would change if we were able to step away from self-blame and emotional flagellation and move forward into celebration? Years ago, when Bill McGowan was still alive and running MCI, there was a sign in the lobby that said, “Make Some Damn Mistakes.” The philosophy underneath that sign was that if you didn’t make mistakes you were not taking risks. Bill truly believed that risk-taking was the greatest opportunity for learning, and that nothing new, creative, innovative or exciting happened without taking risks. It’s simply too bad that the culture has changed since MCI was sold to WorldCom. Part of the problem with the entire concept of failure is that it allows leaders of companies to actually see things as successes or failures, instead of as learning experiences. Every single move a company makes, or action that it takes, is an opportunity for learning— whether it works or not. Even things that work out perfectly the first time may not work the next time. Without understanding what made the action or move work, what conditions or environment or alignment

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Now the best software in the industry just got better. The NEW Enterprise Edition of PestPac Online - more features, new price. * Increase revenue, productivity and profitability through PestPac’s advanced reporting features. View your technician productivity, revenue, marketing performance, and salesteam statistics for any date range. * Improve cash flow by using the Advanced Collections module features to organize your collections procedures to more efficiently and more effectively collect outstanding balances. * Generate more revenue from existing customers and cut customer communication costs by using the Customer Account access module. Now your customers can access key account and service history, request a service, and pay bills. You can even market new services to each customer with PestPac’s new cross-sell tool. * Integrate with QuickBooks or any other general ledger accounting software using the General Ledger Link. Seamlessly sync accounts receivable data to ensure that you have an accurate, up-to-date financial picture for your company. * Optimize your routes using the Visual Route Manager by simply highlighting appointments on a map and assigning them to a particular day or technician. * Close more sales and better understand the ROI of your marketing efforts using PestPac’s Lead Import tool. Link your web site lead submission pages or other online lead sources directly to your PestPac Software. You can even upload sales leads from Sales Genie or other list providers to track performance on all your programs. * Save the hassle and cost of having hardware in your office. Use one centralized database for all of your branch offices and ensure that your data is safe through the backups and redundancy of Marathon’s online hosting environment. Each branch needs only a high-speed Internet connection and a PC.

Successful companies invest in proven technology that can make their businesses stronger. Call 800-762-0301 today to find out more about the Enterprise Edition of PestPac Online Software.

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O P E R AT I O N S M A N A G E M E N T

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Thomas Alva Edison of the stars made it come together, there is no true success. After all, you won’t be able to duplicate the perfect action if you don’t understand what conditions allowed it to work out perfectly in the first place. And will those conditions be the same the next time? If something didn’t work, was it a failure? Of course not. If an action didn’t work, it simply means that something interfered with that action working as well as planned. Any number of things—from timing, to economy, to client needs, to the vehicle used for distribution—any number of random factors may have interfered with the action working as planned. But if you automatically consider that action a failure, you lose the important opportunity of learning how to make it work better the next time. When something you’ve planned for your company doesn’t work as well as expected, it’s not necessarily comfortable, but it’s usually illuminating. When you look at everything from the perspective of “what can we learn from this?”, then you put yourself in a place

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where you can make better decisions about the future and you also encourage your people to work from a position of innovative re-thinking. They will be empowered to constantly improve actions and strategies. How can you lose with that? What if we celebrated failure instead of hiding our “mistakes” in some allegorical closet? History has shown over and over that not daring to fail, or conversely refusing to admit failure and the lessons intrinsic to it, has often created devastating consequences of grand proportions. It’s no small matter how we look at the idea of failure and our response to it. Let us not forget that our greatest successes, in business, science, literature and indeed, life, have started from failure. That’s how we learn. Success isn’t nearly so powerful.

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Linda Finkle, CEO of Incedo Group, works closely with leaders, entrepreneurs and partnerships to create sustainable productivity, organizational strength and most importantly for these companies and leaders to have more fun. She holds a Master Certified Coach designation through the International Coaching Federation. Visit the website at www.incedogroup.com for more information.

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JULY 21–23

GET CONNECTED.

ACADEMY 2011 MARK YOUR CALENDAR! WESTIN KIERLAND RESORT & SPA SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA

Sponsored by For more information, visit www.npmapestworld.org.

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CALENDAR OF EVENTS

JULY 21–23

ACADEMY 2011

JULY 28–30

Westin Kierland Resort and Spa Scottsdale, AZ For reservations call 800-354-5892

CAROLINAS/ MID-ATLANTIC SUMMER CONFERENCE Holiday Inn Resort Wrightsville Beach Wrightsville Beach, NC For reservations call 877-330-5050

OCTOBER 19–22

PESTWORLD 2011 Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Hilton New Orleans Riverside New Orleans, LA For reservations call 504-561-0500, code NPM

FOR DETAILED INFORMATION ON THESE EVENTS, VISIT npmapestworld.org.

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PestWorld Magazine - July/August  

The official publication of the National Pest Management Association