RALEIGH — For Gary Ochsner, marketing for his residential mosquito control business is a fluid recipe that he is always trying to perfect.
A dash of daily deals. Pounds of direct mailings. And a few creative experiments, such as plastic bags filled with a coupon and a rock.
“The marketing component is probably the most significant piece,” said Ochsner, 51, owner of MosquitoBanUSA. “You can never get complacent.”
In 2009, Ochsner started a search for service-related income after he was no longer able to make a living in the residential real estate business in North Raleigh. He investigated residential mosquito misting systems and discovered a seasonal business centered on temporary outdoor pest control treatments. He opened MosquitoBanUSA in March 2010.
“People were willing to spend $100 on a service that somebody would come by every three weeks, more so than somebody laying down $3,000 maybe $5,000 for a permanent misting system,” he said. “That is where the barrier treatments became a tremendously strong part of our business.”
The service, he said, seeks to reduce exposure to mosquitoes and related risks such as West Nile virus. Ochsner’s two-step system seeks to kill mosquito eggs in standing water and reach the adults by spraying outside areas with pesticides, including pyrethrum, which is made from dried chrysanthemums and is water-soluble and approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Ochsner doesn’t spray flowering plants in an effort to avoid affecting insects such as honey bees, he said. Ochsner also recommends that kids and pets stay away from sprayed areas for an hour.
Ochsner does all of the spraying himself, but gets marketing help from his girlfriend Kelly McCauley, his 16-year-old son Luke and website contractor and Internet marketer Casper Holmgreen.
MosquitoBanUSA has a virtual office address at Lafayette Village on Honeycutt Road in Raleigh, but Ochsner mainly works from his truck and home. He is exploring franchising the business.
The mosquito season starts when the weather warms up, typically around March, and extends through October. During the off-season, Ochsner returns to real estate or related opportunities.
Ochsner’s major challenge, he said, has been penetrating the market with an outdoor pest control service that many are not familiar with.
The first year, Ochsner didn’t make money, he said. In the second year, revenue increased times six, and it has continued to double each year after that, he said.
Marketing and customer satisfaction are key to continuing the upward trend, he said. His marketing efforts include Google advertisements, daily deals, signs in existing customers’ yards, and direct mailings. The system includes trying new marketing avenues, evaluating the results, and making appropriate improvements.”
Once Ochsner finds customers, he aims to keep them by offering a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee, which includes revisiting a home if it rains within the 24-hour period after their barrier spray. Satisfied customers translate into repeat business and referrals, he said.
Ochsner, a former stockbroker, said he has never experienced such a high rate of customer satisfaction with a service. He also said that he’s never received a complaint from a customer’s neighbors about the spray.
“From a service perspective, it is probably the most rewarding business I have ever been involved in,” he said.