Orkin/Terminix vs Regional vs Local Exterminators (Pros and Cons of Each!)

Let’s be honest...

People don't wake up in the morning and say to themselves, “I think I will call a Pest Exterminator and have them spray pesticides around my family, pets and house today!”

Funny, but that's not usually how it goes.

Typically, pest treatments are not something you plan on, put in your budget, or spend time thinking about.

terminix vs orkin vs regional vs local (1)

Well, not until you wake up one morning to see a fat rat on the kitchen counter or find bed bugs in your son or daughter’s bedroom…

… “Great,” you think yourself.

After the initial shock, the typical home-owner will take to the internet and consume as much information about their pest problem as humanly possible, (that’s where Pest Strategies comes into play!).

This article will focus on how pest control companies and exterminator, more specially, how to go about picking one.

If that's you then let's get started because there's a lot to cover...

Rusty Markland Technical Director, PestNow.com

This article was written by Rusty Markland, Technical Director at PestNow.com. He's a regular contributor for Pest Strategies with over three decades of experience in the pest control industry.  As a writer, certified instructor and technical director in the industry he has used his experience to promote safety and education in the pest industry. For the last twenty years, he has been the Operations Officer and Corporate Technical Director at PestNow, one of the fastest growing pest control companies in the United States.

Want to skip all this research and just hire a decent exterminator?

Click here to check out our exterminator search tool where we send you free quotes from trusted (and thoroughly vetted) exterminators in your local area to take care of your pest problem. Takes about 30 seconds. Give it a look!

If you need an exterminator you’ll probably be looking to answer a couple key questions, like:

  • Should you call an exterminator or just "do-it-yourself"
  • If you decide to treat the pest problem yourself, what will you use and how safe and effective are "do-it-yourself" pest treatments?
  • If you do decide to call a pest control company, who should you call? A big company like Orkin or Terminix or a small local company?

When should you call an exterminator and when should you NOT call an exterminator?

In order to answer this question, we need to know what pest you’re dealing with (ants/bedbugs/mosquitoes) and where exactly you’re having the problem (inside/outside).

For some pests, you can have great success with a “do-it-yourself” treatment and save a ton of money in the process. In other cases, you should really leave it to the professionals.​

Pests You Can Treat Yourself 

Thanks to advances in pest control, many pests are now within range of a normal homeowner's ability to fully eradicate them. For example, roaches are actually a VERY beatable pest with the right combination of traps, baits, and patience (this is one is the most important).

Ants

ant crawling

Given all the treatment options available and advanced research, ants, are one of the few pests that you can get rid of on a DIY basis.. From gels, to traps, to sprays, most homeowners can take a trip to home depot, grab some supplies, and knockdown an ant population fairly quickly. Ant diets tend to vary, with some ants preferring more sugary baits (gels) and others more protein based baits (granules).

Fire ants and carpenter ants, might be the exception given how stubborn and costly they can be if treated incorrectly.

Minor Cockroach Infestations

roach crawling

Similar to ants, roach treatment has advanced to a point where the average homeowner in a normal infestation can treat a simple German cockroach or Brown Banded cockroach infestation successfully.

If you have a roach problem, make sure to clean up your living space to remove any potential feeding sources, then drop your baits down near suspected roach hangouts (e.g., under sinks, corners, basements, etc).

Minor Rat & Mouse Infestations

rat crawling

A small rat or mouse problem can usually be managed with snap traps.

If you have a minor rat or mouse infestation, you should be able to resolve it on your own with a couple of snap traps and peanut butter. You should not use glue traps as they act more as miniature rodent torture devices. In conjunction with traps, make sure to evaluate your home for entry points and seal them up.

Pests You Should NOT Treat Yourself

PLEASE NOTE:  Although, these bugs CAN be killed by you if you use the correct combination of pesticides and removal methods, the risk is far greater to you and your family when trying to tackle these bugs on your own. 

That's why we recommend using our exterminator search tool where you can get free quotes from pre-qualified professionals in your area. At the very least, we recommend using the tool to consult and ask questions with someone before trying anything on your own.

This is because if use the wrong chemicals, it could make your pest problem worse and get you sick.

Significant Mosquito Infestations

mosquito eggs

Mosquitoes can lay eggs anywhere, which make them a difficult DIY pest.

If you’re just trying to keep mosquitoes off of you during a night run, or for a few hours at the beach, simple repellents will probably work, but if you’re trying to eliminate a larger mosquito population you’ll probably need to hire a professional. 

For effective mosquito treatment, you need to evaluate and knockdown breeding sites.

Something as simple as a bottle cap collecting water near your house can be enough for a pesky mosquito population to flourish. Gutters, bird baths, and swimming pools are also popular breeding locations for your traditional mosquito.

Significant Rat/mouse Infestations

If you can’t get rid of your mouse or rat problem by laying a few traps down, you may have to deploy more heavy duty treatment options, which usually involves rodenticides (poisons).

If you need to get poisons involved, I would not suggest that as something you should do yourself. Poisons are inherently dangerous, and if used incorrectly, can be dangerous to you and your family.

Any level of bed bugs

bed bug crawling

This is your worst nightmare.

People not trained in pest control that try to treat resident bed bug problems only compound the problem and make it worse. Even top professional companies struggle with bed bug treatment success.

Every tactic from heat, steam, and even rapid freeze gimmicks have been tried and are still being tried to eliminate this stubborn blood sucking insect. Bed bug infestations are significant, if the pest pros are struggling with it, you don’t have a chance.

Piece of advice, when you seek answers and treatments get three estimates. Bed bug jobs can be crazy expensive. Stay away from heat treatments, go with conventional liquids and do your research on the company. To help with this, we created this tool to help find a local exterminator and get free quotes.

Termite infestations

termites eating wood

Termites are among the hardest bugs to tackle on your own.

If you have termites it’s likely going to be one of three types, Subterranean, Formosan or Drywood Termites.

Your type depends on the part of the country you are living in. Regardless, if you have termites you can’t and shouldn’t handle this as a homeowner unless you intend on bulldozing the house. Termites will devastate your home, inflict structural damage and it will take professional analysis and treatments to eliminate the problem.

Again, termite treatments can be extremely expensive, get three estimates and consider what treatment plan and price you are comfortable with. Just because it costs more, doesn’t mean it is the best. Do some research on product and company.

Wildlife (Raccoons, squirrels, etc)

It is more and more common for animals and birds to enter structure for harborage and nesting. Squirrel, raccoon, opossum, pigeons, bats, birds, you name it. Animals can carry deadly disease, and they contaminate living areas by soiling and destroying millions of dollars each year in our homes. The average homeowner certainly should not try performing wildlife remediation and eviction themselves. Unless you have a desire to meet face to face with a livid mother raccoon in the attic, call a professional…fast!

How to pick an exterminator?

When it's time to call an exterminator, should you go with a big, medium or small company?

My best advice is to NOT react on impulse when trying to decide!

Unless you are infested with Zombies or possibly a life-threatening situation like yellow jackets in your walls, the majority of your pest problems should be inspected by at least three companies. Have proposals submitted before you select a treatment option. Research the company, the treatment plan and the products they intend to use.

The decision now is do you call big company, a mom and pop or a mid-sized company?

Should you pick a big pest control company (Orkin/Terminix)?

The biggest companies you’ll probably have heard from is Orkin and Terminix. These companies are huge global enterprises. They spend millions on marketing and branding during peak pest pressure seasons and they have operations in almost every area.

But is bigger better?

Pros

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    Training and Resources: In some cases, the big corporations have an advantage such as resources, training and history (good and bad). It all comes down to who is running the branch in your area.
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    Consistent Treatment Standards: Protocol for the big companies is pretty consistent. For example, if you go to McDonald's the Big Mac you get at McDonald's in Texas and the Big Mac you’ll get in Boston will be almost exactly the same.
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    Customer Service Department: The last point I’ll mention is that with bigger companies you have someone to complain too if things aren’t done right at your house. Orkin and Terminix have entire departments dedicated to customer service, where smaller companies do not.

Cons

  • Inconsistent Quality: With bigger companies, some branches have great ratings, while others areas have horrible ratings. That’s why you might research Orkin in your local area and find that they have bad reviews, but when you research Orkin in a different area, you might find they’ve done terrific work. This is not necessarily a knock on Orkin and Terminix, but an issue with any large company. The larger you get, the harder quality control becomes. At the end of the day, the quality of a branch is the responsibility of the branch manager.
  • Higher Prices With Strict Guidelines: Someone must pay for all that advertising and marketing, and as a result, the pricing is significantly higher for big name brands. The salesmen (Inspectors) are held to company approved rate cards that must be followed for each treatment.
  • Turnover: Big companies tend to have more turnover with their employees, which is disturbing to homeowners that are more comfortable with their tech being the same person each time. Not many homeowners love having a revolving door of new people coming to spray their house with bug killing poison gas.
  • Personal Touch: With big operations, each customer doesn’t get that personal touch, since there are so many customers that the company might be working into a schedule.

Want to skip all this research and just hire a decent exterminator?

Click here to check out our exterminator search tool where we send you free quotes from trusted (and thoroughly vetted) exterminators in your local area to take care of your pest problem. Takes about 30 seconds. Give it a look!

Should you pick a smaller/local exterminator?

With smaller pest control companies, you'll benefit by getting a more personal touch to your treatment plans. Prices tend to be more negotiable and you can expect a family owned brand nine times out of ten.

small companies

Pros

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    Family Owned: Smaller companies tend to be family owned, often servicing an area limited to a certain geographic region that can be handled by a limited number of employees.
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    Requires a Good Reputation: The thing about small companies is that they simply can’t survive without a good reputation. They do not have the resources and marketing budget the big companies have, which means that the service quality has to be good, or else the company would go out of business.
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    Long Standing Relationships: Another great thing about smaller companies, is that customers normally have a long standing relationships with the employees as the turnover is low compared to larger companies. Chances are that you’ll see the same exterminator on a consistent basis.
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    Personal Touch: Small companies tend to display more of a personal touch with their customers, listening more closely to their problems and concerns.

Cons

  • Training: Smaller operations may lack the technical training of a larger operation. Their training resources are often limited to once a year certification classes and what they learn in the field by trial and error.
  • Can Be Expensive: Just because they are smaller doesn’t mean less expensive. Smaller shops can also be expensive as well because they have to operate on a higher profit margin due to the lack of customer volume.
  • High Pricing: Small companies do have more flexibility with pricing as they lack the strict protocol and guidelines of big companies, but because of their need for profit, pricing restrictions are still an issue.
  • Slow Response Time: Due to the smaller number of resources for smaller companies, their ability to respond to accidental poisonings, chemical spills or accidents is limited.

Should you pick a medium/regional sized exterminator?

medium sized exterminators

The mid-sized companies tend to have the best of both worlds. They don’t have the large overhead, marketing costs, and employee turnover as the big companies, nor do they lack time and personnel for training and education. Mid-size companies can stretch operations between three or four states, which make them much larger than the small local operations, but nowhere near the national or global scale of an Orkin or Terminix.

Pros

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    Low Turnover: Regional mid-sized businesses tend to retain their employees due to higher base pay and ongoing training, which results in lower turnover.
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    Reasonable Pricing: Volume purchase of pesticides and products drives price down for treatments, which can be passed along to customers..
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    Adequate Training: Significant emphasis on training for application and product knowledge is a priority for medium sized businesses. They’re big enough to afford the down time to train and small enough to make it effective.
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    Family Owned: Most mid-size companies were family owned companies that were tremendously successful and grew their business and expanded but still not a large corporation that ignores customer based relations at the ground level.

Cons

  • Being Purchased: Unfortunately, because they are so successful, the big companies are buying out mid-size companies at a rapid pace. More often than not, the owners step away after being bought out and the national brands will replace operations with their area branch managers. The loyalty built up from the previous ownership might degrade, and the company you once knew will be gone.
Orkin buys smaller exterminator companiesExcerpt Via Rollins.com

Here's ANOTHER example of national pest control company, Terminix, buying a smaller pest control company.

So what exterminator should you pick?

To help you out with this, we actually did some of the legwork for you by creating a handy search tool that provides free quotes from highly reviewed and trusted exterminators in your local area.

Click here to check it out.

You just need to punch in your zip and a few details to start getting quotes sent to your email. 

Alternatively, you can research the internet for ratings, BBB, Yelp, Angies List, and even Nextdoor.com are all review resources to help you do a bit of research on the best exterminators in your area. 

If you have the time and understand the information above information, go the DIY route. Just make sure you read all the labels, and practice safe pest control methods such as:

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    Wear masks when applying sprays and powders
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    Keep baits out of reach from pets and children
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    Leave the room when applying bug sprays until the room has dried

If you need a pest professional make sure you do the following:

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    Get estimates from a small, mid-size, and large company. When  they give you a number, say "Thank you, we'll be in touch..." and hangup. Make sure you get three estimates, don't be "sold"
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    Research treatment proposals and the products your pest control operator wants to use
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    Examine the price of the products they want to use, just because it costs more does not mean it's more effective
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    Research the company, regardless of size, and check out their ratings
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    Do not make a decision on price alone, it does not matter what the cost is if it does not work or have the ability to hurt you or your family

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