Winning the Rat Race in the Remote Monitoring Era

Winning the Rat Race in the Remote Monitoring Era

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Winning the Rat Race in the Era of Remote Monitoring

The pest control industry continues to grow – and with it, the level of competition. Electronic remote monitoring (ERM) will elevate your pest control and help you stay ahead of your competitors.

The business of pest control is as competitive as any large industry. While our industry is friendly as a whole, PCOs still have to compete for every piece of business. Those that win the new business will grow; those that don’t will tread water or, worse, lose ground.

In this period of industry consolidation, achieving growth is more important than ever. If you’re goal is to stay independent, profitable growth gives you the ability to sustain the ups and downs of our business cycles.

If you’re looking to acquire other firms, having a growing book of business and higher margins will help you finance acquisitions. If you’re looking to sell your business to another company, the larger your top and bottom lines are, the higher a multiple you’ll command.

How, then, to achieve a competitive edge as a PCO? Isn’t this a business where pretty much everyone uses the same types of equipment, the same general business models, and performs similar services? Aren’t the keys to competition having a better reputation, more engaging employees, and better salespeople?

Electronic Remote Monitoring – The Game Changer

There’s no doubt that word-of-mouth referrals, engaging employees, and salespeople that are closers are important assets for your business. So are a good website, good advertising, and local business partnerships.

But none of these things are truly transformative to your business.

That’s where electronic remote monitoring (ERM) comes in. The ability of today’s technology to know where and when animals are entering your traps is changing the face of pest control.

ERM has been around for some years now, but until recently, most PCOs just saw ERM as an additional cost. If you’re not willing to change how you run your business, that’s what it is.

But savvy PCOs are changing how they run their business. They’re building new service models based around ERM, achieving faster growth and bringing more to the bottom. And they’re winning this business from those of you that don’t have an ERM offering.

Stay Up with the Big Boys

Electronic remote monitoring is so key to the future of pest control that the biggest players in the industry have acquired, developed, or white-labeled their own ERM offerings.

Anticimex has made electronic remote monitoring a linchpin of its growth strategy. Every Anticimex office uses their Anticimex SMART technology, which is featured in almost every proposal they make for both residential and commercial jobs. Anticimex companies are winning market share and the group is enjoying some of the fastest growth rates in the industry.

Rentokil offers its customers remote monitoring through its PestConnect technology. Ecolab promotes its customers with Intelligent Rodent Monitoring System. These big companies wouldn’t offer ERM services if they didn’t better financial results.

I want to win the business. Let’s connect.

If you’re not already using electronic remote monitoring, it’s time to start. Those PCOs that master how to use ERM in their business will be able to compete effectively, win the “rat race” and grow their businesses. For those that don’t use ERM, well, the trap door is closing.

How can you make the investment in electronic remote monitoring pay off for your business? And how do you need to rethink your service model to stay competitive using ERM technology?

Making ERM Pay

What’s the financial payoff for investing in ERM? How does having real-time data about what traps have animals in them help your bottom line? Based on reports from the early adopters of ERM, these are some of the benefits you could see from using remote monitoring:

You’ll win more business

The fact that you’re using advanced pest control technology is a key selling point for many prospects. Promote your use of ERM, and the benefits they’ll receive, and your chances of getting them to buy increases. And customers will pay a little more for better service.

You’ll reduce the time you need to spend on site

Checking empty traps is a time and money waster – a study by Bell suggested that using ERM can save 78% of your time by eliminating empty trap checks.

You can use these time savings for other clients, or use the time for faster inspection and exclusion. This, in turn, saves you time down the road, and makes for happier clients.

You’ll be able to eliminate unnecessary visits

Some of your customers want regular visits, but others don’t like to be interrupted unnecessarily. With ERM, you’ll be able to skip trips – and the costs associated with them – when there’s nothing to be done.

You’ll be able to create new upsell packages

Some PCOs provide ERM as an integral part of their service package as a way to win more business. Others offer ERM as an upsell and are able to increase their monthly fees as a result.

ERM creates other opportunities for upsells, like a rapid response option, for those that want dead rodents removed faster than the standard service window.

You’ll reduce employee churn

A “hidden benefit” of ERM is the improvement in working conditions for your technicians, which reduces employee churn. Given our industry’s work force shortages, keeping your employees is a huge money saver.

ERM makes the job easier and more satisfying for your team. Checking hundreds of empty traps is tough on the body, as is crawling into a home’s crawl space to check just one or two. And focusing on pest control strategy, inspection and mitigation instead of trap checking makes the job more satisfying as well.

Your customers will be happier

By using ERM, you’ll be able to get more done more quickly, which makes for repeat and referral business. You’ll have an option for clients that want to stay away from rodenticide at their homes and businesses.

And some customers appreciate the additional face time from technicians that can focus on customer service instead of empty trap service.

This is just a partial list. PCOs that use ERM and change their services to leverage the technology are finding new benefits all the time. The sooner you start to adopt remote monitoring, the faster you’ll gain the advantages it brings to you and your customers.

How to select the remote monitoring system that’s right for your business

But what ERM system should I choose? There are several vendors to choose from. Here are some questions to consider when evaluating the field.

Some ERM systems require that you buy new traps with monitoring built in. Other ERM systems allow you to use the same traps and stations you have in inventory. This can be a key factor in the overall cost of your ERM investment.

Some ERM systems connect directly or through a gateway/hub to the cellular network, so you can get real-time information from your traps virtually anywhere and avoid unnecessary visits. Systems that use Bluetooth can require you to be on site to get trap information, meaning you’re not getting information in real time. With these systems, you’ll still be making trips when you don’t need to.

Most sensors run on batteries. But most ERM gateways require wall power, making them vulnerable to accidental unplugging and power outages. Gateways that need to plugged in usually have to be placed in locations not ideal for sensor signal reception. Fully battery-powered ERM systems – where both sensors and gateways run on batteries – provide more reliability than wall-powered systems, and you can place them virtually anywhere at the customer’s site.

Some ERM solutions use off-the-shelf batteries which are easily replaceable, ensuring a long lifetimes for your ERM devices. Other systems require that you purchase a new sensor, or even a whole new trap or station, when the batteries run out, significantly increasing the lifetime cost of such systems.

All ERM systems provide software for technicians and home offices to use. Make sure you get a look at each ERM vendor’s software, to make sure you’re comfortable with its ease of use and the features that are provided.

Different types of sensors work best for different types of traps and stations. Accelerometers, which send alerts based on vibrations, work in most cases but not ideal for multi-catch traps. Reed switches, where magnets connect physically to snap traps and trap doors, are virtually foolproof indicators of a kill. Infrared sensors, which detect animal warmth, are good for multi-catch stations. Check with your ERM provider so understand what sensor types are provided. Some provide only one; others provide multiple sensor options.

No ERM system can be 100% right all the time. False positives – where the system indicates a kill when none has happened – can be annoying, especially if you make a special trip to a site based on them. False negatives – where no alert is sent when a capture is made – mean you might be leaving animals to decay in traps. Make sure you test all the main ERM systems, if possible, as some are more reliable than others.

Everyone provides great service during the sales process – what matters is how good the support is after you’ve made the purchase. Check with customers that use the vendor’s systems…ideally on your own, vs. using the provided references.

When you look at the ERM vendor landscape, some of the vendors have been bought and sold multiple times. When private equity is involved, or when companies make most of their revenues off of chemicals or other hardware, their focus on ERM isn’t guaranteed. Look for vendors that are focused on ERM as their core business.

This is the big question! Many factors go into this calculation. Here’s what you should look at – in total.

  • What’s the purchase cost (or lease cost) of the hardware?
  • What’s the cost of the subscription?
  • Do I need to buy new stations and traps, or can I use my existing inventory?
  • When would I need to buy a new device (e.g., if the batteries aren’t replaceable)
  • Does the system save me from unnecessary visits?

It is important to consider all these factors, and not any one in isolation. For example, if an ERM system has no subscription costs, but requires you to replace all your existing hardware, it may not offer the lowest lifetime cost. Other vendors require you to lease their systems, making the hardware cost much higher.

The good news is – you have different ERM choices to look at, and no matter which you choose, you’ll be able to compete with a profound advantage over your slower competitors.

About Skyhawk Trapmate

Skyhawk Trapmate is a full line of electronic remote monitoring hardware and software solutions for both pest control and wildlife control. All Trapmate devices are powered for years on off-the-shelf batteries, which can be easily replaced, ensuring easy installation and the lowest cost of ownership of any ERM system. Combining long-range RF connectivity to sensors, and a cellular uplink, each battery powered Trapmate gateway can be placed anywhere at a job site, and can connect to hundreds of sensors as much as thousands of feet away.

Trapmate’s DualSense sensors combine a reed switch and an accelerometer into a single device, for the most accurate alerts in the industry, and the Trapmate passive infrared sensor is an ideal alternative for multi-catch traps.

Skyhawk is the leader in battery-powered remote monitoring, and is exclusively focused on designing, developing and manufacturing the best ERM solutions for pest control and other industries. The company, founded in 2017, is based in Derry, NH.