4.01.2020 - Author: Philip J. Nichols -
The current coronavirus situation will have an effect on all service businesses both in the short term, and in the foreseeable future. Many services are considered “essential” and will continue to operate using prescribed health protocols. As a service provider who must enter all kinds of dwellings to deal with wildlife problems, there are many issues to consider. Each situation must be considered for you to make a plan on how to deal with that particular situation.
Before corona, you may have entered the dwelling wearing booties, and donning a suit, gloves and a respirator (or mask) only when entering a confined space or attic. Now, it may be required to dress out according to local or state health protocols, when entering a dwelling. In some cases, you may be prohibited from any contact with the people inside. If protocols are not defined or unknown, you should at minimum, wear gloves and a mask in all cases.
There is certainly a drastic economic downturn which will affect how customers are able to pay you. You may only do jobs that pay upfront via credit card. Or, you may decide to work out terms with valued past customers. And you also will have to consider whether to do some pro bono work for people who are in dire straits through no fault of their own. Every case has its own merits. I would not establish a blanket set of rules for any class such as the elderly, since there are those within a class who cry poverty tears, but are well able to pay.
How do you respond if your business volume goes down? Most people tend to become more conservative in their habits during a recession/depression, spending only on essentials. However, you may want to consider how to leverage your wildlife business to another level. Learn the skills needed to provide add on services. Insect control, gutter installation and proofing, attic insulation, roof and soffit repair and any other construction related needs can boost income in the short term.
Another consideration is what the government is doing to help. The government is providing unemployment benefits, grant (free)money and loans, while the government’s banker (the Federal Reserve Bank) has lowered interest rates to zero, and continues to print money. That money is
available to businesses at record low interest rates, and there will be a glut of skilled unemployed people. The coronavirus situation is unique and it remains to be seen what effect these measures will have after businesses can open again.
A dismal economy can lead to other consequences. Hospitals now prohibit elective surgeries, the “woke” culture has been very quiet, people on both sides of the political divide are leaning towards the middle, and austerity is in vogue. Opportunities exist where law enforcement in many jurisdictions have cut back, or cut out responding to problem wildlife/animal calls. And, the current price of gasoline is good for your bottom line.
The next decade will be historic and challenging. One thing is certain: wildlife will continue to pose problems and opportunities for those wildlife professionals who can recognize change as it happens, and adjust to take advantage of the new normals.
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Seems that nuisance wildlife control is on the list of necessary activities during the great Coronavirus reset. Well, that is good since all of the nuisance wildlife control people I know are independent business owners, not eligible for unemployment compensation. They would all rather be working than sitting around doing nothing anyway. Which leads me to ponder about what kind of human being gravitates to being a nuisance wildlife control operator.
The nuisance wildlife pest control industry is not that old. It began in the early 1980’s and has grown steadily since. In the beginning, fur trappers made up the bulk of people getting into the business since they had a leg up understanding wild critters and how to catch and remove them. Trappers are generally free spirits who enjoy the freedom that being a sole proprietor offers. No sitting in a sterile cubicle staring at a screen, or toiling at a mindless assembly line.
2020 will go down as many things but surely is tough on many who have been put out of work. Trappers, like farmers, lumbermen, fishermen and others working in the natural world, rely on natural skills. “Normal” jobs have disappeared overnight, but there will always be angry raccoons in attics, a skunk in the garage, and snakes in places they should not be.
Wildlife notices the lack of human activity and has to respond and adjust. Some become bolder, coyotes and deer are now seen strolling casually in broad daylight down empty city streets. Animals who forage at dumpsters find no tasty restaurant garbage. Pigeons, park ducks, squirrels and others dependent on handouts must find food elsewhere. But at least fewer critters are ending up as roadkill. What is a buzzard to do?
There have been some scattered shortages in select items. The supply chain that moves food from producers at farms and plants to consumers at the grocery store has been disrupted. It took a generation of programmers to perfect the automated JIT (just in time) system that was responsible for the supply chain working smoothly pre-coronavirus. The giant wheel came to a screeching halt and what it will take to get it moving again, remains to be seen.
Without migrant workers, crops rot in the fields. With no market, dairymen dump milk on the ground. Meat processors shut down because their workers fear getting the virus at work. Food banks are stretched to the limit as cities are just days from being severely short on food. The majority of people in cities not able to forage or hunt will have to do something. The question is what?
Rural folk have not been cursed by the virus as much due to their natural distancing. Since there are more opportunities to forage, hunt, trap and fish in the country, it is seen as a place to “bug out.” There has been an uptick in sales of first time hunting licenses. “Let us go to the woods and shoot some meat!” Where this has already happened, the locals are resisting, even against people who have an established second home. It may get ugly.
Victims of nuisance wildlife may not have money to. The choices are do the work pro bono, barter, self credit (terms,) or turn it down. Pro bono work is something to consider for those who can recognise those truly in need, who can see beyond this calamity, and who have a kind heart. Barter is local, with most people having something you either can use, sell, or make another barter with. Self credit can be offered to anyone you inherently trust, or past customers you feel good about. Turn it down? I would do it if there were too much other work, but make arrangements ahead of time with a competitor who may want the work. Being close with competitors is good for mutual referrals, and good when you need another hand on large jobs.
The Spanish flu 1918 was similar in many ways to Covid 2020. One hundred years since then and we are in the same place of isolation, cabin fever and stillness. People then yearned for it to end so they could return to the normal hustle of life. What actually happened was a ten year party called the roaring 20’s, followed by the great depression. It will be interesting to see if we respond the same. I see the long party happening in America first. If one were to rank “party country,” as is done with colleges, America would be #1.
One final randomness...... statistics don’t lie. There are way fewer emergency room admits for athletic injuries to weekend warriors and fewer alcohol related auto accidents. Coupling this with the largest number of building permits for “tree forts” in recorded history, can lead to a hypothesis of sorts:
IF: men are not getting drunk, crashing cars and playing sports
AND: tree forts are being built by men in record numbers
THEN: tree fort deprived children of men may have a story to tell their children about a tree house during the great and terrible pandemic.