Six ways to rewrite the rules of wildlife control

Breda Pest Management’s wildlife department was born out of frustration.

Remember Matt Breda, president of Loganville, JA based company. Squirrels and bats presented similar challenges.

Breda Pest Management is not equipped to provide exclusion services, so it cannot solve client problems. “Unless you’re actually stopping those entry points by closing them off, you’re kind of kicking the can down the road,” he said.

Breda upended this script in 2009 by launching a wildlife section, which also breaks some tried-and-true industry standards.

The result was excellent. Today, the wildlife division generates a third of the company’s revenue; Equal to the amounts brought in by the Public Pest Service (including mosquitoes) and termite business, which “go around the king here,” Breda said. “In 13 years, the wildlife division’s revenue equals the termite division’s revenue, and the termite division has been in existence for 47 years.”

It has also become more profitable than termite control. “It takes two and a half jobs of termites to equal one job in the wild,” Breda said.

Additionally, a career in wildlife helps Breda Pest Management to navigate an increasingly challenging economy. “Although we see the termite portion of our company slowing down a bit, the wildlife is not slowing down. They are growing at an amazing clip,” Breda said.

Here’s how the company rewrote its rules of the game for controlling wildlife.

narrow scope of service. Most wildlife service providers control a wide variety of creatures. Breda Pest Management focuses on five: gray squirrels, flying squirrels, bats, rats and mice. These are the most common wildlife pests in metro Atlanta.

A narrow focus helps the company direct its training and maintain profit margins. “We got into some opossums and raccoons, but with the DNR live baiting rules here in Georgia you have to check the live traps every 24 hours and it really hurts the profits,” Breda said.

Fix problems that go beyond appearances. Most wildlife monitoring companies focus on sealing off entry points where critters enter. Technicians from Breda Pest Management do this, but they also identify and seal vulnerable areas that are likely to be compromised in the future. Breda said that doing a partial exclusion and ignoring structural weaknesses does not work in the long term.

He explained that customers “will yell at you, and you’ll get frustrated as a company” when the critters chew up another nearby entry point to enter. “I am not going to waste time and money doing partial eliminations,” he said.

Make it a frequent service. For most companies, wildlife monitoring is a one-time service. Breda Pest Management has made it a repeat. After the issue is resolved, customers can pay an annual fee for a renewable guarantee against future critter issues, similar to the annual renewal of termites. An annual inspection of squirrels and bats is carried out; Quarterly or three-year field visits are scheduled for mice and rats, especially if bait boxes are included.

“In the same way you would for termite inspection, you are screening for wildlife,” Breda explained. Technicians point out the homeowner’s favorable conditions, such as tree branches dangling over the ceiling and the unsealed roofline of a new sunroom. They make necessary repairs and add value by identifying other pest issues that the customer must address.

Most companies offer a one- or five-year warranty on work performed to exclude wildlife, but they do not charge a renewal fee each year. “We built it from the start,” Breda said. This helps with cash flow during the winter months when the demand for pest, mosquito, and termite control services is not as high.

Expand the warranty. Most wildlife exclusion service providers guarantee the sites they stamp. If a creature chews a new hole, it will not be covered. “Under Breda’s guarantee, if the animals come back again, it doesn’t matter if they chew a completely new entry point; if you’re under our guarantee, it’s covered,” Breda said.

This includes removing critters, cleaning up messes, and plugging new holes at no additional cost. “That’s what sets us apart here in the Atlanta market,” he said. “We are not in this to upscale the nickel and dime client. If you use them with nickel and dime, they will leave you. But if you take care of them, word of mouth is strong,” Breda said.

Expand the service offer. Some companies just want to remove and exclude wildlife. Breda learned that you need to do more.

“You might also plan if you’re going to go into the wilds, they’ll start cleaning, and if you’re going to start cleaning, they’ll go into seclusion. That’s the natural progression,” he said. Plus, why would you give this work to someone else?

Customers want a full turnkey service that deals with everything from removing and excluding critters to disinfecting and installing new borate-treated insulation, which kills insect pests and does not attract rodents.

This, of course, requires having all the necessary equipment, materials, and equipment, he said, so plan for that eventuality.

Keep your eyes open. Not every employee is suitable for a wildlife job, so keep your eyes open for potential hires and act quickly when employment opportunities arise. When the housing market began to plummet in 2009, Breda hired staff with skills in stair, masonry, roofing, and the gutter system, and who knew how to make exclusion look attractive. “It’s just pure luck, to be completely honest,” he said of the timing of those early appointments.

To meet the growing demand for wildlife service, he is actively looking for people with these “special skills” who are not afraid of heights. Breda, who “strongly” believes in two-person wildlife teams, added, “We have to give a good amount of training” and that special safety equipment is required.

The author is a frequent contributor to the PCT Journal.

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