Orkin vs. Terminix: Which Pest Control Company Should You Choose in 2023?
Nobody wants to need an exterminator, but when they do, they want the best. These two national companies have solid name recognition and reputation, but who wins in an Orkin vs. Terminix face-off?
When a sudden need for an exterminator arises, the very last thing most homeowners want to do is spend time researching which pest-control company will be the best option to solve their problem—especially if they’re doing their search knowing that the pests are crawling through their walls at the same moment. As a result, many people will default to the name that seems most familiar to them; after all, name recognition comes from somewhere, right? This isn’t a bad instinct: Companies like Orkin and Terminix have been in business successfully for a long time. But what are the differences? What’s the best way to choose between them? Setting up a direct head-to-head comparison of Orkin vs. Terminix is a great way to see how these two companies stack up against each other and should make it easier for customers to determine which one will best serve their individual needs. It’s helpful to establish specific points of comparison and criteria for evaluation.
How We Compared Pest-Control Services
- Reputation: How do customers feel about the company? What kind of reputation and name recognition does the company carry? Generally, customers are more secure entering a business arrangement with an established company—especially one where the results can be challenging to quantify.
- Service area: It’s easier to treat infestations when the exterminator is familiar with the types of pests and homes in the area. This information allows them to understand where the cracks in the foundation are likely to be and how the pests are getting into the home, and thus it’s easier to seal the home and treat the pests. Ensuring that the company regularly works in the area in which the infestation has occurred will increase the likelihood of success.
- Pests treated: For customers looking for one of the best cockroach exterminators or best mouse exterminators—these pests exist just about everywhere—it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a suitable exterminator. But for pests that are located only in particular regions (say, the scorpion), it’s critical to know that a pest-control company will be fully aware of and able to handle the pests that may infest a customer’s house.
- Treatment types: Depending on the type of pest infestation being treated, there are different options for the kind of treatment that may be used: chemical, physical, fumigation, and others. A company that uses multiple options is more likely to tailor the treatment to the customer’s circumstances, and using different forms of pesticides can result in more effective treatment.
- Service plans: Sometimes a pest infestation may be a one-time deal due to a broken seal on a window or an errant field mouse that made its way inside and may require nothing more than a single visit. More often, though, the treatment must be repeated a few times. Many pest control companies offer contracts for annual, seasonal, or monthly service, which can save customers who need repeat visits money in the long run. For customers who live in areas where pests are simply a fact of life (or in old houses that are difficult to seal effectively), these contracts are something to look for.
- Additional services: Many companies offer services adjacent to their main product, which can streamline the hiring process for customers by combining multiple services with one provider. The type and number of additional services can make one company more appealing than another offering similar base services by removing the need to find another contractor to provide the extra service.
- Cost: Of course, cost is an important factor for most customers seeking extermination services. Cost comparisons between companies offering similar service levels can help customers decide whether or not the more expensive company offers the services they require or whether the lower-cost company will meet their needs.
- Certifications: Customers want to know that their pest-control professionals are well trained and certified in the control and extermination methods they’ll use, both because they want the pests gone as soon as possible and to ensure any chemicals are safely used in their home. Companies that can provide evidence of licensure, training, and certification where appropriate will have the edge over those that cannot.
- Guarantees: Almost always, some pests survive the first onslaught of pesticides. Customers place value on businesses that offer some kind of service guarantee, either that pests will be gone for a fixed period or that follow-up visits are planned and included in the cost until the problem is resolved. An absence of a guarantee leaves the customer’s spending open-ended, which most would prefer to avoid.
- Reviews: Customer reviews of a service are not always terribly reliable—it’s worth bearing in mind that most people are far more willing to take the time to complain about something than to sing praises, and that sometimes over-the-top positive reviews may have been paid for. But most customers like to look at the general trend that a company’s reviews take before hiring them.
- Customer support: Customer service is critical to a customer’s satisfaction, especially with a company providing extermination services. Some people really struggle to handle insects, so the customer service at such companies needs to be prepared to take callers who are overwrought or panicked having found insects in their home or callers who are furiously angry because there’s been a recurrence. And they also need to be able to handle basic questions and inquiries about their service or accidental charges with grace. Many customers will pay more to hire a company that they can trust will take care of them rather than a less-costly option where everyone they encounter is rude.
Orkin has been in business for more than 120 years and has more than 400 locations worldwide, with its headquarters in Georgia. Its employees are highly trained, and the company requires each employee to receive 160 hours of training before commencing work along with periodic continuing education, so their professionals know their material. The company has sought partnerships with community leaders of public health and environmental safety to promote healthy living conditions free of pests without damaging the environment.
- Learn more with our Orkin review.
With more than 95 years of experience, Terminix is another global leader in the pest- management field. Boasting more than 380 locations worldwide, Terminix emphasizes its customer-centered approach to meeting the needs of its clients while taking care of its employees, along with its accountability and drive to lead the industry. Terminix encourages its professionals to engage with and serve the communities in which they work and live, to provide outstanding customer service, and to protect the environment with a “do no harm” practice.
- Learn more with our Terminix review.
Orkin vs. Terminix: Reputation
These companies are household names because of the longevity of their incorporations and smart marketing. The “Orkin man” is a recognizable figure—a white hard hat with a vibrant- orange Orkin logo and a neat, clean uniform, and sometimes a flashlight or clipboard symbolizing the Orkin man’s preparedness, competence, and readiness to work. Over the years, the Orkin man has diversified to include Orkin women as well, and the company’s reputation is built on the concept of a strong, knowledgeable member of the community who can be trusted and relied upon to get the job done. The familiar logo and the company’s length of service, as well as its significant presence in most markets, are strong factors in their favor.
Terminix—what does that sound like? Termites, of course. This is no mistake; the company’s name is intentionally associated with termites, the type of pest that was initially Terminix’s central focus. The company was founded by the owner of a hardwood flooring company seeking a product that would prevent termites from destroying their floors. While Terminix now treats most of the common pests found in homes, the association of its name with termites makes it the first call for many people when they find termites in their homes. Still, it may allow the company to be edged out by the competition for other kinds of infestations.
Verdict: While Terminix is a well-known company with a presence in 45 states, Orkin has a slightly stronger hold over the market, with over 120 years in business and rather memorable marketing.
Orkin vs. Terminix: Service Area
Both Orkin and Terminix are national companies spread across the states. Orkin has a presence in 45 states with over 400 locations, with a balanced distribution through smaller and larger states. In addition, its website provides information for entrepreneurs interested in building new franchises of the company and highlights the benefit of local experts who are familiar with the pests in the area (and their challenges) because those experts live where they work. This distribution and focus on local experts means that few areas in the country are prohibitively distant from an Orkin location.
Terminix isn’t far behind, with over 300 locations in 45 states. The company’s locations are also distributed well across the country. Still, as there are fewer locations, some smaller states have only one or two locations, while larger states where the weather is favorable to termites and other pests have significantly more. This imbalance can mean that Terminix may be more difficult to hire in some states for pest control. As an example, Terminix has four locations in Colorado, while Orkin has 10 spread across the state. In California, Orkin has 58 locations to Terminix’s 33. Customers living in an area covered by both companies will have the option to choose, but many more customers can access Orkin’s services.
Verdict: Both Orkin and Terminix are pest-control companies with presences spread throughout the United States. Terminix has over 300 locations while Orkin has over 400, meaning more customers can take advantage of Orkin’s services.
Orkin vs. Terminix: Pests Treated
No self-respecting pest-control company can claim to provide complete pest management without a robust collection of treatment plans for the most common pests: cockroaches, rodents, termites, bed bugs, and ants, along with outdoor pests including mosquitoes and ticks. These are the pests that stymie customers enough to call for professional help most frequently. Residents may try to treat ants, mosquitoes, and some rodents on their own at first, but they frequently end up needing a pro to finish the job, and cockroaches, termites, and bed bugs almost always warrant a knowledgeable professional’s assistance. Therefore, both Orkin and Terminix have programs to treat these pests with great success. Because termites are Terminix’s particular focus, customers facing a termite infestation may choose Terminix based on that—why not choose the company that focuses on the type of infestation present?
Beyond these common pests that either company can effectively address, each has less-common pests that it treats. For customers living in the southwestern United States for whom the horror of finding a scorpion in a shoe is real, Terminix has the problem in hand: It treats scorpion infestations, while Orkin does not. On the other hand, Orkin treats fleas, flies, mites, stink bugs, beetles, and stinging pests, which Terminix doesn’t specifically list. This, of course, doesn’t mean that Terminix can’t address those pests, but Orkin has treatment plans in place specifically for these, so customers may feel more confident choosing Orkin if they’re coping with them.
|Centipedes and millipedes||X||X|
Verdict: Both Orkin and Terminix treat the most common pests that a homeowner might call an exterminator for, including cockroaches, rodents, termites, and bed bugs. While Terminix treats scorpions—a benefit specifically to homeowners in the southwestern United States—Orkin treats a variety of pests that Terminix doesn’t mention on its site, including stink bugs and fleas.
Orkin vs. Terminix: Treatment Types
Both Orkin and Terminix provide detailed information about the risks of various pests, the warning signs that they’re present in a home, and the comprehensive process through which they’ll treat each pest. In general, both companies promise an in-depth inspection of the home to locate areas of infestation, assess the size of the infestation, and consider and discuss treatment options. Following the inspection, customers can expect a written report including treatment recommendations. Both companies will treat to kill the existing pests and their eggs or larvae, then plan a return visit to follow up and kill any pests that have hatched since the first treatment. Both companies also provide services to seal entry points to the home to prevent reinfestation and offer monitoring services to watch for reinfestation.
Comparing the actual treatment chemicals or materials is difficult because the treatments are proprietary, so holding up Orkin vs. Terminix for bed bugs or Orkin vs. Terminix for mice regarding the effectiveness or chemical use is nearly impossible. The same goes for Orkin vs. Terminix for carpenter ants or other outdoor pests. While the companies offer more specifics about bed bug and termite treatment, those specifics are absent regarding the methods used to control and exterminate other pests.
Treatment materials and chemicals used by both companies will vary by the home, type of pest, and size of the infestation. Still, both companies have committed to using the best environmental processes possible to protect families, pets, other wildlife, and the groundwater. Terminix offers a “green” EcoControl program, through which the company has chosen to use targeted baiting and strong prevention tools to reduce the number of pests it’s necessary to treat. In addition, treatment options include natural products such as essential oils and alternative methods like vacuuming to reduce pests without using more chemical pesticides than are absolutely necessary. This is a great program and could significantly impact the amount of pesticide used indoors and out, offering positive health and environmental impacts. Unfortunately, at this time the EcoControl treatment program is only available to Terminix’s commercial clients. Hopefully, if the program is successful, it will become available to residential clients as well in the future, as there would almost certainly be interest.
Orkin has chosen to seek and receive accreditation from the National Pest Management Association’s (NPMA) QualityPro program. This certification demands higher standards than local, state, or regional licensing organizations across the board in business practices, customer service components, and employee conditions. It also requires a specific standard of environmental stewardship, training, and pesticide handling, which means that Orkin has chosen to be held to a higher standard regarding its treatment programs, pesticide use and disposal, and other environmental factors. This credential is earned by less than 3 percent of companies in the United States, so it’s a choice that has required effort and training to achieve and is indicative of the company’s focus on environmental responsibility.
Verdict: Orkin and Terminix both outline details of their termite and bed bug control protocols; however, there’s relatively little information provided for treatment of other pests. Orkin’s NPMA QualityPro status holds the company to rigorous standards regarding chemical use and environmental responsibility. While Terminix has a “green” EcoControl program, it is only available to commercial customers.
Orkin vs. Terminix: Service Plans
Pests are notoriously difficult to exterminate, so hiring a professional exterminator is often necessary. Insects can burrow deep into wood or tuck themselves behind walls and into cracks and crevices. Even when a treatment successfully kills all of the living insects, the eggs and larvae left behind by those adults have protective measures built in that make them even more difficult to kill, so depending on the life cycle of the insect, a whole new crop can hatch in the weeks after the first treatment. For some pests (or in cases where the infestation occurs at the same time every year), a preventive treatment can mean a real infestation never really takes hold. Most pest-management companies offer service plans that cut down on the cost per visit.
Orkin offers every customer the option of a custom contract. To help them understand their needs, Orkin provides guides and checklists so customers understand the best-practice steps in pest management based on their scenarios. The first is a guide specially tailored to new homeowners; while people who have resided in a home for years have a general idea of when and where pests might invade, new homeowners are clueless unless the sellers have been extremely honest. Orkin provides steps to help home buyers inspect their potential new home for signs of pest infiltration, previous treatments, and damage, as well as highlighting areas that could become problems if they aren’t already, such as moist, dark basements. Orkin also provides a list of steps for homeowners after they’ve moved in, including pest-management strategies and suggestions about setting up recurring inspections to ensure any infestations are handled quickly. For new homeowners with a lot on their plate, these clear-cut instructions and availability of inspections makes for one less thing to worry about.
Orkin has also outlined a plan for seasonal treatment, breaking down a pest’s “seasons” into six blocks (swarm season, breeding season, high season, prep season, invader season, and shelter season) when pests will act in predictable ways. Orkin then mapped out nine separate pest zones based on United States Department of Energy climate zones to identify when each pest season happens in different areas so the company can design appropriate treatments. Custom contracts can be built around the season for each individual situation to treat the pests effectively.
While some people might assume that pest-management companies handle pests indoors and landscapers manage outdoor pests, this isn’t the case with Orkin—Orkin provides pest control indoors and out. The company provides a comprehensive listing of its whole-property services, including prevention and treatment, to make it clearer when designing a custom plan.
Terminix offers more traditional contract plans. The first is a simple one-time pest-control visit, which includes a full inspection and one-time treatment, but if the pests return within a month of the initial treatment the company will return and re-treat. Terminix notes that this is a great option before placing a home on the market because it ensures that the home is pest-free before showings without locking in a year-long contract. Single services may also be appropriate for small infestations—if it’s not the right option, the inspector will make other recommendations.
Also available from Terminix are quarterly contracts. Like the single-visit option, quarterly contracts begin with a full interior and exterior inspection and treatment. After that, exterior treatments to support the barrier and prevent reinfestation are scheduled and applied once per quarter. Should the pests return between scheduled visits, Terminix will return and re-treat at no additional cost. For customers with recurring or specific seasonal pest-management needs, this is a huge money saver over repeatedly scheduling one-time appointments, especially if the pests tend to reappear more than 30 days after treatment. The re-treatment in that circumstance would be covered under a quarterly contract but would have to be scheduled as a full-price single visit otherwise.
Terminix specializes in termite treatment, so it’s no surprise that the company has a special set of contracts for termite treatment. The termite plans are available in Basic, Advanced, and Premium. The Basic Plan includes an annual termite inspection, the OnGuard Termite Protection System providing continuous protection, and the Nix Termite Guarantee, which covers re-treatments if the insects return. The Advanced Plan adds features to the Basic Plan, including the Nix & Fix Termite Guarantee, which adds more coverage and includes repair of new termite damage with a limit of $250,000. The Premium Plan adds ongoing management of 13 additional household pests. Homeowners struggling with repeated termite infestations will place a high value on these contract options.
Verdict: Terminix offers one-time and quarterly pest-control plans; quarterly customers can also receive free re-treatment between scheduled appointments if needed. On the other hand, Orkin provides more comprehensive and unique service plans, including seasonal pest treatment and inspections for new homeowners, as well as fully customized plans.
Orkin vs. Terminix: Additional Services
Both Orkin and Terminix offer various other services that may not seem related to pest management, but are actually integral components of long-term pest control. Orkin provides attic insulation and moisture control measures in attics, basements, and crawl spaces, which helps to seal out pests, maintain an even temperature, and make the interior far less inviting. Orkin also offers Leaf Stopper gutter protection to prevent leaf buildup in gutters. Why? Many insects love wet, decaying leaves and dirt, so gutters full of debris are like little springboards for the insects: They get cozy in the gutter, and it’s no problem for them to move inside the house through tiny gaps in the eaves when it gets colder. Pests can leave behind bacteria and biohazards, and some treatments can leave a chemical residue, so Orkin offers VitalClean deep-cleaning services as an option after treatment. In Florida, Orkin offers lawn treatments to keep lawn infestations down.
Terminix also offers attic insulation and gutter protection services for the same reason that Orkin does: Both services protect the home from insect infestation in the first place and make treatments more effective. Terminix also offers crawl space encapsulation. Many homes have crawl spaces that are poorly insulated and sealed, and some are even open to the soil just above the foundation. Encapsulation keeps out moisture and prevents pests from having direct access to crawl spaces—and then the rest of the home. However, the extent of Terminix’s services is not as robust as Orkin’s.
|Orkin’s Additional Services||Terminix’s Additional Services|
Verdict: Attic insulation and moisture mitigation are two additional services that both Terminix and Orkin offer. Orkin stands out by also offering a comprehensive cleaning service to eliminate dirt and pathogens potentially left behind by pests.
Orkin vs. Terminix: Cost
How much does Orkin cost? How much does Terminix cost? And how can a customer compare Orkin vs. Terminix prices? Pest control is sort of like shopping for cable or internet services: It’s nearly impossible to pin down any precise numbers or even ballpark how much services will cost. There’s a good reason for this (unlike cable and internet services, which should be able to do the math, add taxes and fees, and tell the customer how much the service will cost). Pest- management treatment plans are highly individual. They are dependent on the geographic location of the home, the type of pest, the size and location of the infestation, and the type of treatment required; these all affect the cost, as do service plans and other considerations. Because of that, pest-control companies are loath to publish numbers that may not apply to all customers. That’s why neither Terminix nor Orkin prices are displayed on their websites and company representatives will not give out estimates over the phone—treatment requires an initial inspection that is followed up with a written report of the problem, recommended treatment, and pricing that is specific to the individual situation.
Verdict: Neither Terminix nor Orkin provides pricing information online or even by direct inquiry; additionally, different locations and services may warrant different costs. The best way for a customer to get an accurate quote for pest control is to opt for an in-person inspection.
Orkin vs. Terminix: Certifications
Pests are wily escape artists that thrive by escaping the eyes of humans. If pest management were simple and easy, all that would be needed would be a row of sprays and treatments on a shelf at every home improvement store. But as many homeowners and renters have discovered after spending hundreds of dollars on DIY solutions, pest control really is best handled by professionals who are trained and knowledgeable about the type of pests in the area and how best to handle them.
Terminix does not address the subject of certifications and training on its website; the company focuses on community connection and the fact that its technicians carry a sense of responsibility, accountability, and professionalism. While the company as a whole doesn’t have certification, the 380-plus franchises and branches across the country may carry them, and many of the technicians almost certainly do as required by law in many states. Checking with the local branch will confirm this.
Orkin also maintains strong connections with the community and is committed to education, public health, and the environment. In addition, Orkin maintains a 26,000-square-foot training facility at its Georgia headquarters so that its professionals can practice and learn in simulated environments following classroom instruction. As a company policy, each technician and employee experiences the same 160-hour training procedure before they can begin work, along with periodic continuing education classes. On top of that, Orkin holds a National Pest Management Association’s QualityPro certification, which means it must maintain stringent quality control and meet requirements involving training and environmental standards, so Orkin’s own standards are bolstered by the desire to maintain the certification. Orkin’s technicians are required by company policy to have the most up-to-date training and techniques at the ready, so customers are likely to reap the benefit of that knowledge.
Verdict: Terminix doesn’t appear to hold any company-wide certifications, but individual branches or technicians may hold certifications. Orkin is an NPMA QualityPro company, which indicates that technicians typically have high levels of expertise and training.
Orkin vs. Terminix: Guarantees
Guarantees are important for pest-management treatments because it’s not often that the treatment is 100 percent effective the first time, especially with larger infestations. Orkin and Terminix both vow to return to the home until the problem is managed, but there is a catch. Terminix will return at no charge for one visit after a single-visit treatment. Orkin’s revisit protocol is written into individual contracts. Both companies, however, require the customer to subscribe to a longer-term contract and maintain that contract in order to receive free re-treatment if pests return. That means if the customer lets the contract lapse and then experiences a reinfestation, the next treatment will come at a cost and may require a renegotiation of the cost and contract term.
While this isn’t ideal in either case, it makes sense from a business standpoint: What’s the point of a contract if customers can get free service even after they let it lapse? It may be frustrating for customers who experience a return of the pests just after their contract has expired, but being aware that maintaining the contract is part of the deal will make it easier to decide when enough time has passed to let the contract lapse.
Other than this issue, both companies have full satisfaction guarantees that are quite reassuring.
|Orkin’s Guarantee||Terminix’s Guarantee|
“Your satisfaction is our goal. If you aren’t completely satisfied, we will work with you until you are. If pests return between treatments, your Orkin Pro will return at no extra charge.”
“The Nix Pest Guarantee means you can relax knowing we’ll nix your pest problem, and keep it nixed. And if pests come back between treatments, so will we—at no additional cost to you.”
Verdict: Orkin and Terminix offer satisfaction guarantees and promise to return to a customer’s property between treatments for no extra charge if pests return. However, both companies require a customer to maintain an ongoing treatment plan in order to qualify for a free re-treatment; the guarantee does not come into effect for one-time customers.
Orkin vs. Terminix: Reviews
Gauging customer reviews for companies that are made up of branches and franchises can be difficult because so much of a customer’s satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) results from the management of the individual branch. Trustpilot includes a lot of negative reviews for both Orkin and Terminix, but those reviews are spread across dozens of franchises and many fixate on issues that indicate the customer didn’t fully understand the requirements of the contract or didn’t like that they were pressed toward a contract they didn’t feel they needed. Many branches of both Terminix and Orkin carry an A rating from the Better Business Bureau, not because there have been no complaints but because the branches are exceptionally prompt about responding to and resolving the claims of dissatisfied customers. In general, Terminix reviews reveal positive comments about many individual technicians, noting their promptness and professionalism and the relationships the technicians form with clients they serve over a long period of time. Orkin reviews in many instances applaud the quality of the service itself and for the ease of working with both the technicians and branch staff.
As it pertains to Orkin vs. Terminix reviews, it’s fair to say that both companies earned their share of complaints and praises, but Orkin has fewer specific complaints lodged against its branches.
Verdict: Terminix reviews tend to give technicians high praise for their communication and personability, while Orkin reviews cite effective service and communication. While reviews for both Orkin and Terminix appear mixed as a result of branches being independently owned and operated, Orkin appears to receive more positive reviews and fewer complaints.
Orkin vs. Terminix: Customer Support
When pests have invaded a home, most people want advice and a solution yesterday. Access to excellent customer support is a must. In addition, as technology has evolved, a surprising number of people have become uncomfortable with actual human interaction, so providing access to services without requiring a phone call is also a customer service must. Terminix and Orkin both provide excellent access to customer support that is, according to quite a few reviews, very responsive and helpful. Both supply a standard customer service phone number for those customers who do prefer to speak to a person. In addition, both Orkin and Terminix offer an online email customer service access form; customers can add the pertinent client information, explain their question or problem, and then click “submit,” and a representative will respond promptly. For many people, however, waiting for that response (especially if there’s a pest problem in progress) feels like it might take too long. Terminix also offers access to customer representatives through a live-chat platform, combining the instant gratification of a telephone call with the social distance and convenience of a text-based conversation.
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Verdict: Terminix and Orkin both offer customer support via phone and email request forms, but Terminix edges out Orkin by also offering a live-chat option, providing an easy way for customers to receive answers to any questions they may have.
Verdict: With over 120 years in business, over 400 locations nationwide, and standout industry certifications, Orkin is an excellent choice for homeowners looking for a pest-control company. Terminix’s customer support availability and reports of friendly technicians make it another solid choice for customers looking for pest control, especially if termites are the issue.
Orkin and Terminix are two of the best pest-control companies for a reason—both provide excellent service that is effective in preventing, controlling, and removing a wide range of household pests. Terminix is renowned for friendly, easy-to-work-with technicians. In addition, customers whose primary concern is termites will reasonably gravitate toward Terminix, whose expertise in battling termites is long and deep. Terminix may also have a slight edge in the Southwest in areas where scorpions are a regular household pest. Other than those two areas, however, Orkin’s wider geographic range, larger number of branches, and highly trained technicians make it hard for Terminix to keep up, especially when taking Orkin’s company-wide service and environmental certification into account. It’s hard to go wrong with either company, but Orkin has the edge.