Rewarding Your Loyal Customers

In business, many avenues exist to advertise and help brand your business.  When it comes to advertising, business owners often think of the phone book, door to door sales, flyers, trade shows and direct mail as ways to promote their business.  Business owners often forget to reward the people who should be rewarded the most.

For several years, I worked for a man who did not believe in rewarding customers when one of the customers gave us a referral.  His thought process was that since we give our customers good service at a reasonable price, then they ought to refer us.  Repeatedly, we asked him to put some kind of referral program for our customers. When he finally gave in, it was a small token at best.

When seeking advice on a customer referral program, one marketing expert, whom we consulted with, suggested that we buy different $10 – $20 items that are said to be worth $50 – $100 from a discount place and give these away for the referrals.  He has enjoyed great success with this idea.  The problem we had with this idea was that we felt it was less than honest to reward our customers with an item where the said value was not the actual value. Our company places a great value on honesty and integrity.

We have learned that your customers can be your best source of advertising. Why not reward them for advertising your business?  When we started our own pest control business, we wanted to develop a program whereby our customers are well rewarded for helping us grow our business.  We began a Loyal Customer Referral Program.  For a termite referral a customer receives $50 off of their next service; additionally, the person referred receives $50 off of their service.

Our referral program for a pest control referral is one of the best in the nation!  We instituted a gradual scale whereby for up to four referrals our customer benefits more.  For every pest control referral, the person referred receives $20 off of the initial service.  The program works as follows for our customers: 1st referral – 25% off their next service, 2ndreferral – an additional 50% off of their next service, 3rd referral – an additional 75% off of their next service and the 4th referral they will receive a free service.

We want to reward our loyal customers by not only providing great service but also rewarding them for helping us grow our business.  We value every customer and desire to show our appreciation to them.

Look for our upcoming blog next month about current customers vs. perspective customers.

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Home Mosquito Control

Mosquito Control Mosquitoes are known for their annoying bug bites and their ability to breed anywhere in the hot months throughout the year. However, there are ways to prevent mosquitoes from disturbing your daily lives. At home mosquito control is all about prevention and limiting the mosquitoes ability to breed. Whether you decide to do it naturally or chemically is up to you. Hopefully, these few tactics will allow you to enjoy the outdoors without any mosquito concerns. Before optimal home mosquito control can be achieved, you have to understand that controlling the mosquito population begins with the eradication of possible breeding areas for the female mosquitoes.

Even before you step outside though, check and make sure that all the windows and doors seal completely when they are closed. It is suggested that every window and door in your house has a screen in front of it to prevent any intrusions from the pesky mosquitoes. Now, once you get outdoors, the first thing you have to do is check for places that could be a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Females can lay their eggs in even an inch of water, so basically, anything that can hold water is a possible breeding area. Common breeding grounds for mosquitoes are found all over. For instance, tree holes can collect rainwater allowing for easy nesting. Unfortunately, the only way to get rid of this is to consult a local tree service. Yard equipment such as a bucket or flower pot can hold water, so be sure to drain pots often and turn over all equipment to allow for the rain to run off. Tarps that lie around the yard or cover your boat can collect water in pockets, but if you tighten and check them often, water build-up can be prevented. Toys and rain gutters are also susceptible to stagnant water so turn over your sons Tonka truck and clean the rain gutters of leaves in order to prevent possible holding grounds of water. Puddles are unavoidable, but drainage or a change in the landscaping can lessen your chances of a growing mosquito population.

Now that you took the first step in home mosquito control, you can learn how to add natural additions to your yard to lessen the chances of mosquito invasions. First of all, dont jump into the extermination of animals such as frogs and bats because they are natural predators of mosquitoes. Planting citrosa (the mosquito plant) has proved to be somewhat effective in mosquito control, yet if you are outdoors, you can rub the leaves that contain citronella oil on your skin to act as a natural bug spray. Also, if you happen to have a small pond, the gambusia is a small fish that feeds on mosquito larvae, so despite the standing pond water, mosquito control is successful. Plus, dragonflies feed on mosquitoes and their larvae. The pond can add a decorative edge to your landscape, as well as provide a home to two natural mosquito killers. Another natural way to rid your home of mosquitoes is citronella candles. They come in the form of Tiki torches, bucket candles, and regular oil. Also, Planet Natural provides natural pest repellants such as Orange Guard which controls insect populations, and Safer BioNeem kills insects before they can become pesky reproducing adults.

For those of you that dont find natural solutions effective enough to solve your mosquito problems, there are many ways to trap and extinguish those troublesome mosquitoes. First off, mosquito dunks are useful for their ability to kill mosquito larvae. The mosquito dunks are placed in small amounts of stagnant water and kill larvae before they become adults. The mosquito magnet or trap is another chemical solution to the bug issue. These traps are operated by propane gas and require Octenol or Lurex depending on the species and location of the mosquito. The trap combines carbon dioxide and Octenol to replicate human breath (a major mosquito attractant) to lure the pests in and then exterminate them. The Skeetervac is a well known mosquito trap. Mosquito netting and zappers also aid in the trapping of darned mosquitoes. Mosquito foggers allow for temporary relief from mosquito interference by killing the adult population quickly. Mosquito spray is a residual spray that targets areas where mosquitoes lay during the day. Use this spray in places such as under bushes or in dark, moist areas, but be careful to read the directions carefully so that there are no toxic effects on local plant life.

Finally your yard is prepped for proper home mosquito control, but for personal mosquito control, here are a few tips. When getting dressed for outdoor activities, keep in mind that mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors and floral prints so plan accordingly. Also, strong scents such as sweet perfume, suntan lotion, and hairspray attract mosquitoes. Lose the fragrances, and enjoy the smells of nature. Did you know that mosquitoes can detect human breath from up to 75 feet away? They really can find you, so don’t breath when you go outside. Joking aside, consider doing strenuous activity inside to avoid being an easy mosquito target. Another way to steer clear of mosquitoes is to schedule outdoor activities in the middle of the day rather than in the morning or at dusk when mosquitoes are most populous. Lastly, bug repellents such as the classic DEET is always a good source of personal mosquito control.

With these mosquito control tips, you can be assured that the great outdoors will be enjoyed with a little less company from irritating mosquitoes. Have a great outdoor experience!

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When Love is in the Air

Divorce and war withstanding, some still believe love transcends all. If you’re doubtful, you can find the perfect argument for this philosophy in the lovebug.

Here is an insect that spends the vast majority of its mature life locked in love’s embrace.  Lovebugs mate even during flight, which occurs in the spring, fall and sometimes December in Florida. And when the male dies, the female will drag him around with her until she lays her eggs.

This insect’s passion is memorialized in all its nicknames – lovebug, honeymoon fly and double-headed bug, among them. Lovebugs, which are primarily found in the Southeast U.S. and in the Gulf Coast states are considered beneficial because the larvae eat dying vegetation in grass thatch, providing nutrients to the grass as well as thinning the thatch.

lovebugs

Not everyone sees their positive attributes, however. While they’re not big bugs, they can be a mess. Even diehard romantics distain lovebugs during season. If you’ve ever had to drive through a swarm of lovebugs – which can range into the hundreds of thousands during flight – you know why: The car is splattered with them and they’re not easy to clean off, especially after a long journey.

 

Never fear. Here’s a technique to remove dead lovebugs.

  1. Spray the car with water, and then wash the affected area with a sponge, soap and water. Rinse.
  2. Wet a dryer fabric-softener sheet in your soap bucket and use it to wash any lovebug remnants from the same area. The fabric softener and coarse texture of the dryer sheet break down the remains.
  3. Rinse and repeat on other affected areas of the car.

Barry “The Bug Guy”

http://www.trulynolen.com/blog/

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Summer Bug Safety Tips

Keep your family safe this summer by following these tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics(AAP).

Bug Safety:

  • Don’t use scented soaps, perfumes or hair sprays on your child.
  • Avoid areas where insects nest or congregate, such as stagnant pools of water, uncovered foods and gardens where flowers are in bloom.
  • Avoid dressing your child in clothing with bright colors or flowery prints.
  • To remove a visible stinger from skin, gently scrape it off horizontally with a credit card or your fingernail.
  • Combination sunscreen/insect repellent products should be avoided because the sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours, but the insect repellent should not be reapplied.
  • Insect repellents containing DEET are most effective against ticks, which can transmit Lyme disease, and mosquitoes, which can transmit West Nile Virus and other viruses.
  • The current CDC and AAP recommendation for children over 2 months of age is to use 30% DEET. DEET should not be used on children under 2 months of age.
  • The concentration of DEET in products may range less than 10% to over 30%. Ten percent DEET only protects for about 30 minutes-inadequate for most outings.

THE CONCENTRATION OF DEET VARIES SIGNIFICANTLY FROM PRODUCT TO PRODUCT, SO READ THE LABEL OF ANY PRODUCT YOU PURCHASE. CHILDREN SHOULD WAS OFF REPELLENTS WHEN BACK INDOORS. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON DEET: http://www.aapnews.org/cgi/content/full/e200399v1

from PCO Pro magazine

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Solitary Stinging Pests: Cicada Killers

The cicada killer is a large wasp that varies in length from 1 to 1/2 inches and is black or rusty colored with yellow bands on the abdomen. This wasp nests in burrows in the ground and provisions its nests with cicadas. Nesting usually occurs in sod-covered areas but the grass is not harmed. The solitary adult is often seen hovering 1 to 2 feet above the ground. They are non-aggressive but will sting if provoked or trapped against bare skin. Their foods consists of spiders and insects.

“Stinging Pests of People” Revised by Elmer W. Gray

Original document produced by Dr. Beverly Sparks

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Social Insects: Yellow Jackets

When we came across the article “Stinging Pest of People” in the PCO Magazine revised by Elmer W. Gray, we felt that it had great information on the yellow jacket and should share it with our blog readers.

YELLOW JACKETS

Yellow jackets are small (half-inch long) wasps marked with yellow. Colonies are initiated by overwintering queens that make paper nests underground, but occasionally in hollow trees, wall voids and attics or on a branch over a stream. A fully developed nests may contain from a few hundred to many thousand adults. Yellow Jackets feed on a variety of pest insects, but will for age for meat or soft drinks at a picnic, camp or garbage sites. This habit often brings them into close association with people. Good sanitation in picnic areas can help pests. Solitary scavenging yellow jackets are unusually non-aggressive unless handled, but become very aggressive as a group if they believe their nests is threatened. Yellow jackets will vigorously pursue an intruder who threatens their nests and are generally considered the most dangerous of the social insect.

Control:

Most social bees, wasps and hornets are beneficial and should not be controlled unless their nest and activities are close to humans and create hazard. For bees, wasps and hornets, apply an insecticide in the evening when they are at rest. With the wind at your back, aim the insecticide at nest openings in trees, bushes, under leaves, ground cracks and crevices in and around nest openings. Re-treatment may  be necessary. If possible, destroy the nest or seal the nest opening. Readily available insecticide include a variety of formulations of aerosols for quick knockdown and kill. Some aerosols produce a jet stream of up to 20 feet for operator safety and the ability to reach nests high off the ground.

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Social Insects: Baldfaced Hornets

BALDFACED HORNETS

 

The white or light yellowish markings on the face, thorax and part of the abdomen help to identify the baldfaced hornet.

 

 

 

 

 

Its nest look like a “bloated football” high off the ground in a tree or bush. Unusually there is a single entrance opening at the lower end of the nest.


 

Control:

Most social bees, wasps and hornets are beneficial and should not be controlled unless their nest and activities are close to humans and create hazard. For bees, wasps and hornets, apply an insecticide in the evening when they are at rest. With the wind at your back, aim the insecticide at nest openings in trees, bushes, under leaves, ground cracks and crevices in and around nest openings. Re-treatment may  be necessary. If possible, destroy the nest or seal the nest opening. Readily available insecticide include a variety of formulations of aerosols for quick knockdown and kill. Some aerosols produce a jet stream of up to 20 feet for operator safety and the ability to reach nests high off the ground.

When we came across the article “Stinging Pest of People” in the PCO Magazine revised by Elmer W. Gray, we felt that it had great information on the baldfaced hornet and should share it with our blog readers.

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Argentine Ants

The Argentine ant is native to Argentina and Brazil. Experts believe it entered the U.S in the late 1800s via ships transporting South American coffee. Argentine ants can be identified by their musty smell when crushed. They vary in color from light brown to dark brown. The larger queens range up to a quarter-inch in length and the workers are about one-tenth of an inch.

Although Argentine Ants are a major nuisance pest, they cannot sting.

Argentine ants always travel to and from their nests in trails that are sometimes hundreds of feet long and may contain thousands of ants. Trailing is heaviest in early morning or late afternoon. These ants are less active when the surface temperature exceeds 90 F. They might continue to trail in shaded or protected areas. Their natural food preference is “honeydew”, a sweet substance produced by sap-sucking insects like aphids.

Outside, Argentine ants tend to form shallow nests in moist places, such as under stones, logs, potted plants and landscapes mulch, as well as along sidewalks. Often, their nests maybe also found at he base of plants and trees where honeydew-producing insects live. They may invade buildings in large numbers when conditions outside are too wet or too dry, or when there is a decrease in honeydew. To  enter structures, they search for cracks, crevices or holes, utility lines, cables and wires, traveling along tree and shrub branches. Once inside, they may crawl along utility wires and pipes in walls, searching for food and nesting sites. Indoors, these ants usually nest near a moisture source, such as in wall voids near water pipes, sinks, bathtubs or showers, or in potted plants. Once foragers find food, sentinels go back to the nest and provide an odor trail for others to follow and join the meal. Hundreds of Argentine Ants can be quickly recruited to contaminate food they find indoors. They prefer a like honeydew and plant secretions, or sugar, syrup and fruit juice. But they’ll settle for almost anything else, including meats, eggs, oil and fat.

If you think argentine ants have infested your home, it is VERY important to immediately contact a certified, licensed pest management professional for inspection. Make sure to let them know about any structural leaks or moisture problems.

Source: www.antinstitute.com

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Crazy Ants

Crazy ants are originally from the old world tropics. Reports on infestation throughout the United States arose primarily after the ants were introduced in shipments of goods such as in the soil used for the tropical potted plants.

These ants can be identified as reddish or dark brown to black and are about an eighth of an inch long. When you inspect them closely, they have noticeable longer legs and antennae than other ants their size. In general, crazy ants have loose, unorganized trails. When they’re disturbed, they run erratically with no apparent direction – thus their common name, “crazy” ants.

Each colony is relatively small with multiple queens and a few thousand workers. Some larger colonies containing tens of thousands of ants may be linked together by foraging trails.

Their nests may be found in wet or dry soil or under objects on the ground such as potted plants, landscaping timbers, firewood, and piles of debris. They may also live next to foundations in landscaping mulch and thick vegetation.

Nest that are made above ground can be found in gutters clogged with debris and the undersides of gravel on flat roofs. Once the ants get inside, they may nest in structural voids, including walls, under carpet and under and between undisturbed items stored on floors. Indoor nests may be found in indoor planters and plotted plants.

Crazy ants feed on natural foods including living and dead insects, and on “honeydew” produced by plant-sucking insects (aphids, scales). Crazy ants are also attracted to human foods that are greasy and sweet. The ants can quickly and completely cover the food that they find.

The crazy ants that you see indoors are wanderers and come from outside nests. They may access buildings by traveling on the ground or on branches and vegetation touching the structure. They then enter through areas such as weep holes and exterior cracks and crevices around windows and doors. Indoors, they may be seen foraging along baseboard and carpet edges.

1. Has very long antennae and legs compared to body

2. Antennal segment twice as long as head

3. Color dark brown to black body with gray sheen

4. Does NOT sting

5. Monomorphic workers size: 1/16 – 1/8 inches

If you think crazy ants have infested your home, it is VERY important to immediately contact a certified, licensed pest management professional for inspection. Make sure to let them know about any structural leaks or moisture problems.

SOURCE: PCO of Georgia vol. 24

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Fire Ants

Red Imported Fire Ants

Several fire ant species live in the United States, some of native origin and others introduced from other parts of the world. They include the black imported fire ant, the red imported fire ant, the tropical fire ant and the southern fire ant. The Southern Fire ant is a native to North America but the red imported fire ant is originally from South America.

The red imported fire ants is by far the most significant pest because of its aggressive nature and potentially deadly sting. These ants originated in the lowlands of Brazil and came to the United Stated through imported soil between 1933 and 1945 through the port of Mobile, Alabama. They have spread to other parts of Alabama, as well as Arkansas, California, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. They can potentially spread anywhere that average minimum temperatures are above 10 degrees Fahrenheit and annual rainfall is greater than 10 inches -  or in irrigated areas. Federal quarantines have been put in place at times to restrict the movement of infested materials such as soil, sod, potted plants and hay to uninfested areas.

IDENTIFICATION:

By far the most notable characteristic of red fire ants is their stinging behavior. People, pets and other animals unknowingly disturb heir mounds and are quickly covered with stinging ants. Over 40 million people live in areas infested by the red imported fire ant in the Southeastern United States. An estimated 14 million people are stung annually. Deaths have occurred either from allergic reactions to the venom or when people are stung multiple times and don’t quickly receive medical aid.

The venom of red imported fire ants is unique in the insect world because it produces an immediate and painful stinging, burning sensation. Later, white pustules will form on the skin at the site of the sting.  They appear an almost uniform dark reddish-brown in color, but closer inspection reveals a darker shiny gaster (stomach). People often recognize red imported fire ants simply by the dome-shaped mounds they build and the protective behavior of workers, who will pour out of mounds if they are disturbed, and will attack intruders.

BIOLOGY:

Just like all the other ants, the life cycle of red imported fire ants includes egg, larval, pupal and adult stages - known as complete metamorphosis. New queens land, lose their wings and typically tunnel into soil to start new colonies. Sometimes many queens can be seen clustered together in cracks and crevices on the ground or under objects before starting their nests. A typical nest is a dome-shaped mound sometimes as large as 18 inches tall and two feet in diameter, although mound structure will vary somewhat by soil type. Some nests may have no obvious mound, such as those in mulched areas. Sometimes, the tops of mounds are removed by lawn mowers. Queens may also land on buildings with flat roofs (sometimes many stories high) and start colonies that infest the building from the top down. Indoor nests may be in wall voids, bath traps, under carpets and in crawl spaces. Queens can lay hundreds of eggs a day and a mature colony containing 200,000 to 300,000 workers can develop within a year or two.

HABITS:

Red imported fire ants may quickly move their whole colony if conditions are unfavorable or if the mound is disturbed. It is not uncommon to see mounds pop up within a few feet of a mound that was poorly treated with ineffective insecticide or pesticide. Red fire ants are voracious foragers that exploit many different food sources such as sweets, oils and dead insects.

These ants may also attack and kill livestock, especially poultry and can even damage certain crops. Their nesting behavior can damage electrical equipment, such as air conditioners and utility service boxes, as well as roadways and airport runways where the ants may cause potholes.

Control, Control, Control-

Most pest control professionals can treat for fire ants, but the homeowner can go to Walmart, Lowes or Home Depot and buy a product called Over and Out.  One bag will treat approximately 5000 square feet and cost approximately $20 per bag.  This product will treat your fire ant problem for 1 year. If you have any questions, send us an      email at triumphantpc@bellsouth.net or give us a call at 770-715-6985.

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