Finding the Right Professional Pest Control
Finding the right professional in any sphere can be difficult at the best of times and sometimes it can turn into a bit of a lottery – if not an outright nightmare! Pest control is no different to many other industries in this respect and it is not just about avoiding the out-and-out “cowboys”. How, amongst the many reputable ones vying for your custom, do you pick the one which is right for you?
Of course, part of the answer depends on why you need professional help in the first place. Some companies may offer a wide range of services, while others may specialise in just one or two. A householder with mice may have many to choose from; the dockyard needing a ship fumigated will inevitably face a much more limited choice.
For businesses, there may be particular legal requirements to take into account also, such as the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act, Health and Safety legislation and food hygiene regulations. Geography may also play a part; some companies offer nation-wide coverage, while others are much more local and those of us who live in remoter areas of the country may be lucky if there is a choice at all. While these kinds of particular circumstances may well influence the final decision, there are more general points which will almost always apply and many of them you can sort out very easily for yourself.
As with any business, one of the best ways of finding a good company is by word of mouth. However, by their very nature, pest problems are something that most people choose to keep quiet about – especially around friends and neighbours – so personal recommendations are not always easy to get. Some companies will offer to put you in touch with satisfied customers – with their permission, of course.
First ImpressionsThe first contact you have with a company may give you a few useful clues. Did the person who answered the ‘phone sound professional? Do they appear knowledgeable and competent? If they said they would send out some information, did they – and how promptly?
These sorts of questions may not be conclusive, but they certainly should give you an indication of the kind of people you are dealing with – and finding a company that you feel comfortable using, matters. After all, you are letting them into your house or business premises to do an important and rather sensitive job for you. You might also like to find out if they will turn up in logo-laden uniforms and a liveried van announcing your pest problem to the neighbours – most companies are very sensitive and discrete, but it never hurts to check!
Membership of one or more of the professional bodies is always a good sign – it shows a commitment to proper standards of service and training. Look out for National Pest Technicians Association (NPTA), the British Pest Control Association (BPCA) or registration with the British Agrochemical Standards Inspection Scheme (BASIS); outside of the UK, most other countries have their equivalents. If you decide to take things further, ask to see their membership credentials, as well as details of any licenses or certification and check that they have adequate insurance, should anything go wrong. No bone fide company should object – and think carefully before using any that do!
Another thing to consider is how long the company has been in business. While this is not an absolute guarantee, finding a well-established firm with a good reputation always provides a degree of reassurance.
Making the ChoiceIf possible, always try to get a quote for the work from at least three firms – and make sure they make it clear exactly what is included in the price. Apart from the obvious advantages of having something in writing to avoid any nasty surprises later, it gives you the chance to see the people involved face to face – and ask to meet the person who will actually be doing the work. You should not be afraid to ask some pretty direct questions, either. Is the work guaranteed? Are their employees security screened? What qualifications or training do they have?
In the end, it comes down to a bit of homework and asking a lot of questions, but it is worth finding out as much as you can up front. You already have a pest problem; time spent doing your research at the outset can stop it getting a whole lot worse – in more ways than one!