Stephen Vantassel Wanted to talk today about how to handle difficult jobs, you know jobs where you’re just not sure what exactly is going on at that particular situation that you’ve been hired for, I’m taking presently I’m studying for the ACE exam that’s the associate certified entomologist, and so one of the things that they said there was they said that the inspection is the backbone of integrated pest management. I couldn’t agree more because I love
I was early in my wildlife control My wildlife control work
Back in Springfield Massachusetts and I was coming out to a client and the client kept hearing saying you heard scratching sounds or noises above his walk in closet. And so he had a cedar closet there and so he was hearing noises and I’m inspecting the house. I didn’t do a big inspection of the property but I am looking at the house and I noticed there’s a large opening at the attic. And I figured oh it’s got to be squirrels so I’m you know I’m setting my traps up and I said I’ll be back the next day I lived in a state where you couldn’t let the client check the trap you had to your eyeballs had to check it every day.
So you know that adds up if you’re seeing empty traps because at the time I was charging by the animal. So I come back the next day fully anticipating that I wouldn’t be catching some squirrels and lo and behold the traps are empty. And so I go the next day the first day no big deal so I come back next day and sure enough there’s still nothing called
That well this is kind of weird so I’m checking my trash making sure everything’s working right. So I come back the next day and. Still nothing and I ask the client are you still hearing noise out there. And the Clancy guy. Yeah. No you’re I’m hearing it all the time and so fast as well. If I don’t catch something by this date then I’m going to have to get up to that closet and take a closer look.
So this was before the time I understood about the importance of closing that whole adult putting a movement indicator over the whole like either some stapling some newspaper over the opening or putting some X with duct tape as a movement indicated to see if they’re seeing animals moving in and out of that location. I didn’t do that so I wasn’t sure if there’s anything moving in the road. His wife files asking if he was still hearing noise and so we finally get up into his so.
Turns out and still isn’t catching the thing I was having some real doubts about my trapping ability and trapping prowess. And so it could really be down
So I’m up into this up into his bedroom and we’re looking inside the his walk in closet inside said well we’re gonna have to look above the ceiling and so we took a crowbar. You said Go for it and they start pulling down some of the slats. And all of the sudden all this. What I now know to be France it looked like sawdust being poured out and then there were black ants cause probably Carpenter it’s pouring out of that ceiling so it turns out that what he was hearing was a carpenter nest Carpenter nest above
His walking closet. So what happened there was my failure to inspect sufficiently enough. Cost me a great deal of time and was actually working for a client that you should have been hiring a pest control operator not a wildlife control operator
So the point is is that this is why we have to have situations where we have to have a strategy for how we’re dealing with situations where we think we know what’s going on but it wasn’t that was going on. So let me give you some
Some tips the first thing when you’re doing when you’re talking with your client usually you’re talking to them on the phone and you’re getting some background information. If you can if you buy a computer you want to Google Earth their house and get an understanding of the structure so it can help you interview your client better before you arrive.
Is there any special equipment that you’re going to need to handle that particular property.
That’s the ideal, If you can’t do it you know so be it but you need to kind of get a little sense of what that client is dealing with. So be sure you have the equipment you have a lot ladders tall enough to reach that particular building. Are you good idea of access to a crawl space if you need to get into the attic.
What kind of structure is
Has he tried to trap already. You’re getting this sort of feedback. So all of the information your client gives you we’re going to call a symptom of the problem, It’s not the problem but it is a symptom of the problem.
A sign is when you get signs when you arrive at the location and you see evidence of a dropping or hair or you see the animal or a nest or a trail or something else or maybe a hole with a smudge mark that’s a sign so signs are objective they are definitively there. Symptoms are subjective.
It’s what the client is telling you but that you aren’t necessarily privy to. You don’t necessarily know what he heard. He is telling you what he heard as good as you can.
But that doesn’t mean that they’re accurate because a lot of people are not accurate storytellers. You know the one we know where the fish keeps growing in an inch or two every year they tell it. Some people are just poor Because poor historians.
So my point here is is when you’re talking with the client on the phone and you have a mental image of what you’re going to be coming into. It’s critical that the symptoms that the client is explaining to you match the signs that you see when you see a broad divergence
That should caution you to be very careful that you’re inspecting properly so when the client is telling you that they think they have a a raccoon and you’re not seeing any evidence of a hole big enough to allow a raccoon that should tell you that something is wrong here that probably.
Are they really hearing a raccoon or do they really have a sign of a raccoon that they that they saw or are they misstating it is it really just a squirrel that they’re going to be having and you have to kind of keep an open mind because you don’t want to assume your clients are lying but you have to be sure that you match the signs with the symptoms that the client is doing that. And that’s going to be very important because you always have to keep in the back of your mind that the that the client is simply wrong.
What do they call it a loose story Paris toast this or the Lucy Terry Paris a toast this there’s a delusion that sometimes people have that they have a problem when in fact they don’t.
It’s words it’s caused by other things. So what do you do when you’re not exactly sure. Well you want to make sure as how thoroughly Were you able to inspect that house did you have high confidence that you didn’t miss any holes or gaps in that particular house. One job I did where the I think I told the story before
I wasn’t sure how the raccoon was getting into this garage. So I finally came back to the property. It was around dusk.
And what did I see in the corner of the rack. I saw the corner of the roof moving and lo and behold the raccoon actually lifted the roof squeezed through.
And then the roof dropped down behind her there was no hole but if I was a better observant more observant I probably would have noticed body oils at that particular spot. How carefully did you look.
That’s the first question you want to ask. Did you really look and really really inspect that particular house so you’re really looking at it at the quarter inch level. If necessary right. So that’s the first step.
Second step is you want to ask yourself is Did you see where you. Were you able to see any droppings is the type of animals in that particular area.
Are you ruling out suspects.
I mean clearly if someone is saying that something is chewing up all of their birdseed overnight well that’s probably not going to be a mouse it’s going to be something bigger than that if they’re hearing if they’re hearing noises or scratches scratches can be anything from mice to birds. But if they were our rule of thumb is Elif is raccoons sound like elephants squirrels sound like raccoons mice sound like so sound like squirrels. It gives you an idea because people tend to overstate the noise of what they actually have.
If you still haven’t found anything in or the story that what you seeing isn’t matching what the client is seeing you can off always set up what’s called a tracking trap.
And this is I call it a track trap of what you’re doing is you’re putting usually bait on the floor on a surface and then you’re putting some sort of talcum powder around it or you’re putting baby powder or flower flower it can be useful if you’re trying to attract rats to a location if rats and so you can see if there’s going to be any footprints on that particular material.
Another great choice is choosing the fluorescent orange chalk line material that is an excellent because it actually fluorescence really really nicely.
So those would be another way to try to see if there’s anything going on in that particular patient trail cameras are another excellent choice you’d want to choose a trail camera that has a blackout version. It has so it’s able to say it doesn’t have a red light because a red light can be attracted to certain animals so it’s completely black out that it has no video or multiple capture capability.
If you’re using them make sure that you put them in an area where there’s not going to be a lot of wind where things or objects are going to be moving in causing it to fire prematurely.
You also want to make sure it’s pointed away from the sun if possible because the sun can really cause the picture to be all white is out to build the scene thing once the sun is hitting it.
So those are be some excellent tools you want to ask that they ask the person have they talked to their neighbors. Has there have the hazard neighbors seen anything. It’s sometimes when you’re looking when a neighbor is looking at a house from a distance they can see things that you wouldn’t see because you’re too close to the structure ask them to see if their neighbors have done. You can sometimes say You know what. I haven’t found anything here. But if the problem continues I’ll return it no setup fee cost you know and give them like a week or so you can come back. She’s not wasting time at a job doing something where there really isn’t anything there to do.
You have to consider alternatives.
I had a job once where the client thought that they had they found a dropping in the middle of their basement for so they hired me to come out in what I saw. I was like boy that’s kind of big. That’s kind of raccoon ish terms of size inside inspecting this particular house. And I found nothing.
But it was a big house and I was like No I. I could be missing something. I don’t think I am but I. I could be.
So I’m interviewing the mother wasn’t there at the time and so I’m interviewing the older son.
And. And I’m like Is this happened as this happened.
Is everything knocked over raccoons tend to be bulls and China closet. They’ll knock things over. Was in the basement. So why isn’t anything knocked around.
Because if a raccoon was trapped in the basement how did it get in here. And then how did it get out.
And I noticed there was like a six year old boy who was following this around. He seemed quite interested in what I was doing and so
It finally dawned on me that could it be could it be the kid, And so you know how. This is something where you would want to approach with your client quite gently. So I asked the older son. I said Is it possible that this is from your younger brother. His answer was could be. So what do you do in that type of situation.
This is where you have to have the psychology side of things. And I not a big psychologist but I’m learning try to grow in this particular area how to deal with the emotional intelligence side so I said Well what we can do here is I put a can of sardines in the middle of the floor
On some newspaper and I took some talcum powder and put the powder around the sardines.
I said if there’s a raccoon here the raccoon will come for the bait and we’ll see the tracks from talcum powder.
And I said if that’s the case I’ll come back I won’t charge the set of feed we’ll catch the raccoon for you.
I said give me a call if there’s a thing coming back bottom line was I didn’t get a callback so you have to be sure that the symptoms that the client is explaining to you match the signs of when you arrive.
Let me tell you another story of the importance of the inspection process I had a call from an elderly lady who was hearing something on underneath her floor and I’ll be frank with you I thought this lady was just losing your mind. I was like thumping under your floor what is this. But I drove out there and lo and behold they go down. She had a little half basements down in the half basement knows a crawl space under the rest her eyes. And I completely thought this lady was was crazy
Lo and behold I’m shooting a flashlight down the crawl, And what do I see. I see a starling underneath her floor in the flipped window.
Thirdly I saw my light. It flew up and hit her floor and I could hear the thump myself. It’s important to be sure that you listen carefully to your client and even when you think they’re crazy that you keep an open mind
Not an open mind. Every crazy story that the client may be telling you but an open mind in the sense that can I make their story fit the evidence that I’m seeing.
Because the last ditch thing you want to go to is loose Terri illusory Paris tosses. That’s where the client is actually imagining things that don’t exist, That is your that’s to get to that level.
You have to go a long way before you get to that level and make sure you cross off every single alternative option because you should not encounter that very often because your clients are not really in the business. By and large of lying to you they may not be talking to you accurately.
They may not be precise in what they’re telling you but you have got to make sure you learn how to proceed to read their information and look carefully and make sure that you’re not in such a rush and that you have such preconceived ideas that you’re missing the signs because you’re not able to perceive the sign.
This is why you have to have techniques that when you can’t when you don’t know what how to resolve it you don’t know what it is that you can try those so that the trail cam or the track traps the movement indicators checking again and then also sometimes you know just calling a client calling a friend of yours. Another person in the industry this is one of the benefits of having a trade association like
Nikola where you can reach out to somebody to a colleague and say Hey I just need to pick your brain for a little bit. I’m having this particular issue and I don’t know what’s going on here. And sometimes they can perceive what you’re telling them differently. If you’re taking good photographs you can share those photographs with a court with a colleague and say look I need help identifying this particular issue.
Have you seen this before. What could it be because ultimately if we don’t identify what that problem is with our client we can’t give them a good and proper solution. And that’s why it’s so important that you’ve got to be able to positively identify what the problem is to resolve it.
Well I hope you found that helpful because it’s a mindset that you have to adopt love to hear ideas if you have other podcast subjects on wildlife control that you would love to hear I’d love to hear from you.
My name is Steven Van Tassel I’m with wildlife control consultant. You can reach me at email@example.com
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