What to Consider When Choosing An Exterminator

Finding a mouse in your home takes most of us through a range of emotions.  There’s the first instance of, gosh how cute, to the desire to catch it.  Then fear springs to for, it might bite me.  And inevitably, I hope that’s the only one.   But some pests, the cascade of emotions skips a step or two and runs right into disgust and fear.  Consider finding a nest of rats, ants, hornets, or cockroaches. 

If you, like most of us, conclude you are not going to live with the pests, then you need a plan.

  1.     Determine Whether You Can Handle the Pests Yourself

For the run of the mill situations, there are a myriad of products found at the supermarket, DIY shop, and big-box shops for ridding one’s home of pests.   Most are well-known brands and have reasonably clear instructions on precautions, dangers, and their application.

For many situations, spraying or laying a trap and waiting is an inexpensive and handy solution.  The instructions on the canister or box should be sufficient.  But if in doubt, consider watching a video or searching for that brand online for detailed instructions.

If in doubt though, then you need to escalate to the next level.  Again, depending upon the problem there is usually at least one helpful video online for guidance.  Here, you can reassess whether you have the stomach, dexterity, and patience.  Or, this might be the point where you decide you need to turn to the professionals.   

  1.     Calling in the Pros

Your area may have a local, or well-known branded extermination service.  Recommendations from neighbors should carry weight.  But you want to be sure that you are not selecting somebody who is either not qualified or voyaging out of the normal situations they have experience servicing.

Here, you should be looking to find services that are licensed, possibly at the local, state, or national level.   

There are many services that you can find either in the yellow pages on online.  Some have catchy titles like Econo Pest Control or try to take advantage of alphabetical indexing like A-Pro Pest Control Inc.  Try to be thorough.

  1.     Reviewing Offers

As with any service, you should be shopping around if you can withstand the infestation.  Getting quotes not only gives you an idea of what to expect in terms of price but also shows you to a degree how the contractor will perform: does the company follow through?  Is the company thorough?  Are their staff considerate? 

Consider not just the price but whether what is on offer is value for money.  With pest control, many contractors will:

  •  Set the bounds of service to be offered
    • Where they consider the infestation to be and
    • What they plan to do
  • Offer you a guarantee,
  • Suggest ways to reduce the impact on your household during the extermination process,
  • If costly, suggest ways to finance the service, and
  • Provide you references on similar jobs, enabling you to measure the experience others have had
  • With any guarantee, you will be looking for:
    • How long it will last
    • Is it backed up by a larger association (you don’t want to discover a recurrence of the problem and then, that the company you engaged has gone bankrupt)
    • What your responsibility will be to ensure that the guarantee is not voided.
  1.     Selection

Hopefully, having requested offers, you will find yourself with a choice.  But if not, take that as an indication that the first crop of exterminators are unlikely to deliver.

Many purchasing organizations look to compare offers.  They try to match like-for-like.  The same is true choosing an exterminator:

  • Are the guarantees equivalent?  For the same amount of time?
  • Are they providing licensing information?  Is it current? 
  • Were they equally thorough in what they considered, what they are offering to do?
  • What is the time frame?  Is it immediate, or will there be a delay?  How long will it take?  [While some services are a one-time visit, others might require repeated visits, perhaps for months.  And some situations might require you to vacate the premises, for example, if you have termites you might need the building tented and fumigated.]
  • Payment terms.

And aside from these, measurable, objective points, there are also the subjective considerations:

  • Are they personable and sympathetic
  •  Project competence, skill, and knowledgeable
  • Pay attention to detail and work methodically

Making a decision solely on price is folly.  And while we all dislike overpaying for a service, we need to recognize that there are contractors who will intentionally low-ball a job and then look to eke out additional fees.  For example, discovering problems that were not caught in the initial assessment, or concluding additional time and/or materials are required.  There’s a reason why purchasing managers tend to choose the next lowest bid.

Remember that you remain in control of the service until you have made the final payment.  So, when selecting, look for those contractors that are willing to give you a final payment on completion of the work. 

And finally, think outside the box.  To catch a mouse, you could just get a cat.

Finding a mouse in your home takes most of us through a range of emotions.  There’s the first instance of, gosh how cute, to the desire to catch it.  Then fear springs to for, it might bite me.  And inevitably, I hope that’s the only one.   But some pests, the cascade of emotions skips a…