Stories and articles for pest control businesses

31 May 2022

Opinion: Who do you think you are?

Opinion | PPC107 June 2022

Regular PPC writer Alex Wade from Wade Environmental is back – and this time he's talking through the opportunities licensing could bring.

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Who do you think you are BPCA PPC107 Alex Wade

Who do you even think you are? That rat man, the wasp lady, that pest guy?

“My mate down the road does wasps, makes a good buck in summer! Yeah, but really, I reckon I can do what you do mate, just pop off to the shops to get some poisons and I’ll show you how it’s done, you just have to leave it out under the bird feeder where they can see it.”

How often do we encounter this? And if the answer is ‘only once’ then this is once too many.

Who owns pests?

Consider this: when your boiler breaks you call a certified gas engineer. After they apply their craft, they ask you for money and you pay without a fuss.

When your main fuse board breaks, you call a professional electrician because, although you feel competent rewiring a plug, faffing with the fuse board is a terrifying concept where one slip could result in a crispy death.

But, when you have a rat under the decking and someone comes in to recommend the best solution for management, you often hear: “its not my fault, its next door!”. Closely followed by: “how much?!”

These may seem like two things, but also very much the same thing. Why should anyone listen to you, and how can you justify charging what you do? How do we prove we are professionals? We can show our qualifications, but what do they mean to the average person?

Prior to undertaking the job and then letting our actions speak for ourselves, we cannot prove with any degree of substance that we are any different to the guy down the road and his bucket of ant powder, which is the plain and simple truth.

What makes this even worse is the perception that our industry, and all those who work in or for pest management, are by default cowboys and vagabonds.

How do we prove we are professionals? We can show our qualifications, but what do they mean to the average person?

Alex Wade, Wade Environmental

A light in the darkness?

Licensing could very easily fill this gap. It would validate that we have a minimum set of standards.

Without these any have-a-go hero with a can-do attitude can waltz in and brute-force a solution with no regard for public health, animal welfare or any form of due diligence and professionalism.

But it is those words, ‘a minimum set of standards’ which strike fear into many, because what if you aren’t good enough?

Well let me stop you right there, because if you have taken the time from your day to subscribe to one of our trade associations, and taken the additional time to read publications pertaining to our industry in an effort to keep abreast of the latest news and changes, then it is highly unlikely that you are the problem, nor that a set of standards required for licensing would provide any real obstacle to continue as you are doing.

So we have nothing to lose and much to gain?

No stick and a mouldy carrot

This however, may be the biggest detractor from licensing: just who will be responsible for its maintenance?

Furthermore, who upholds these standards of behaviour, rewarding those who do it well with visibility and plaudits to the public while also sanctioning those who flout these rules. Because if this is to be a tool for our industry, we must ensure that it does not become a two-edged blade.

It’s all well and good being paragons of virtue and justice, but if we pay a membership to a club that no one knows or cares about, then what’s the point?

This question goes doubly-so when one considers the shift from a voluntary system to a compulsory one, because then all a licence becomes is a tax on good behaviour.

A silver bullet

There is no such thing as a silver bullet, and while some may see licensing as the cure to many of our industry’s ailments, it certainly will not be the only solution we are to rely on.

It’s likely to be a momentous upheaval for our industry with many pitfalls along the road, but within this journey there is great hope.

Hope that our profession will become legitimised, that our tools will become safeguarded for future use, that our value will be understood, and our worth is redeemed financially and socially.

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