Who Do You Think You Are?

Why should anyone listen to you, and how can you justify charging what you do? How do we therefore prove we are indeed professionals? We can show we have our qualifications, but what does this mean to the average person?

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 Ill show you how its 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 the once then this is far too many times.

Who owns pests?

Another way to consider this is when your boiler breaks you call a Certified Gas Engineer.  Then after they apply their craft, they ask you for the money and you pay without a fuss.  Then 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 certain and crispy death.

But when you have a rat under the decking and someone comes in to recommend the best solution for management 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 therefore prove we are indeed professionals?  We can show we have our qualifications, but what does this 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 in pest management must be therefore by default cowboys and vagabonds.

A light in the darkness?

Licensing could very easily fill this gap.  It would validate that we have a minimum set of standards.  That without these; no have a go hero with a can-do attitude could just 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 strikes fear into many, because what if you arent 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, 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 an set of standards required for licencing 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 licencing, 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 whilst also proving sanctions and punishing those who flout these rules.  Because if this is to be a tool for our industry, we must ensure that is does not become a two-edged blade.

It is all well and good being paragons of virtue and justice, but if we are paying a membership to a club that no one knows about or cares about then whats the point?  This comment 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 whilst some may see licensing as the cure to many of our industries ailments it certainly will not be the only solution we are to rely on.  It is 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 redeemed financially and socially.

Read this article in print here.