Green shoots blossom into increased profits for many

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Looks like the recession may be over for many pest professionals. 96% of those working in private sector pest control companies and 94% of self-employed pest controllers participating in the 2015 BASF/Pest National UK Pest Management Survey reported that profits were satisfactory or better. Indeed, 50% reported that profits were up compared with just 37% of private companies and a mere quarter of the self-employed in the previous year’s survey.
So the green shoots we saw in the 2014 survey have borne fruit, in the private sector at least. But what of local authorities? With no profitability measure available, it is harder to assess their position.

Immediate prospects looking good
We know that some authorities have sub-contracted pest control to the private sector whilst others have opted out of pest control altogether. The 100 individuals working in local authority who took part in the BASF/Pest survey are clearly from those authorities which continue to take an active interest in pests. When asked about immediate prospects last time, 40% predicted they were ‘good’ or ‘very good’. This time that figure rose to 59%; the highest score measured since the survey began in 2010. Only 9% expect things to get worse – the lowest figure recorded so far.

In the private sector, pest control companies have always been extremely bullish about their prospects for the coming year and 2015 was no exception. 86% see prospects as ‘good’ or ‘very good’ with just 1% predicting trouble ahead. Historically the survey has shown that the self-employed’s expectations fall somewhere between the private companies and local authorities but not this time.

In the 2015 survey self-employed pest controllers are as optimistic as the private companies. 84% are in the ‘good’ or ‘very good’ camp and just 2% expect things to get worse.

Medium term extremely good for some
Over the medium term company staff and self-employed pest controllers are if anything even more positive with 89% of those working in private companies and 88% of the self-employed expecting business to improve.

The picture is much more mixed in local authorities. Here 17% see prospects as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ and 10% don’t know so that’s approaching a third who are very uncertain about the future.

Pest control activities
“In the early years of the survey we asked how pest control work is split by pest type,” explains Pest magazine’s associate editor Helen Riby. “In subsequent years the survey concentrated on which pests were up and which were down but for the 2015 survey we decided it was time to ask again about the total workload.

Survey Graph Immediate Prospects

Survey Graph Medium Term Prospects

Survey Pest Control Activities

The results are shown in the pie charts (above). Comparing these to the figures from 2012, the last time this questions was asked, the picture has remained pretty constant. The only discernible changes are that all three groups have seen a decline in wasp work – no doubt a reflection of the recent poor wasp years and that the self-employed now spend almost as much time (16%) dealing with other mammals – rabbits foxes, moles etc – as they do in tackling wasps (17%).

When asked which activities had increased, which had remained the same and which had decreased, a different picture emerges. Subtracting the number who said a pest activity had decreased from those who said it had increased, produces a net increase figure. In previous years it has always been bed bugs that topped this chart but, this time, rats and mice showed the biggest net increases. These were followed by other mammals and bed bugs.

Good turn out
“As in previous years, we were very pleased with the response,” commented Pest magazine’s associate editor Helen Riby. “Replies came in from 344 pest professionals with a good split between the three groups. Local authorities made up 29% of respondents, private companies 33% and self-employed pest controllers 38%. To provide a decent level of detail we do have to ask a lot of questions so we’d like to thank those who took part for spending time answering. The more people who take part the more accurate the results.”

To read a fuller report on the findings from 2015 National UK Pest Management Survey is included in Issue 39: June & July of Pest magazine.

Survey 2015 Faces 1

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