Restaurants can have their fair share of problems. Staff turnover can make the food and the service inconsistent. Transitions in management can create confusion. Lack of good branding and marketing can lead to a lack of customers.
All of that can be fixed by the staff and management, but when it comes to one of the biggest issues restaurants will come up against, it’s time to call in the pros. We’re talking pests.
Pests can not only ruin a restaurant’s reputation, but they can make people sick and end up costing you a lot of money. A restaurant can fix a lot, but it will be hard to come back, and some never do, from making someone ill. Here are some of the most common pests restaurants face:
Fruit Flies – They’re small and can be mistaken for gnats. Fruit flies are much worse than gnats, though. They’re attracted to overly ripe or rotting food because they use that decomposed material for breeding. However, it’s not just fruit. Any accumulation of food debris, and even the smallest amount will do. For example, if your restaurant has a bar, you know that dirty taps or hose lines are super attractive to fruit flies. Those fruit flies are actually a health risk. They can transfer germs from a dirty surface onto a clean one. They can also carry food-borne illnesses that can cause food poisoning. An adult female fruit fly can lay up to 2,000 eggs on the surface of anything that’s moist and rotting, even dirty and wet mop heads. Within 30 hours, tiny maggots hatch and start to eat the decayed food. Within 2 days, they’re all grown up and ready to mate. So not only are they a health risk, but they can turn into an infestation pretty darn quick.
Rodents – We aren’t living in an animated film here. A rodent in a restaurant can be a death sentence to that business. A rat or mouse in your restaurant can contaminate food possibly making your customers sick. They also spread disease through their droppings, urine, saliva, and fur. Even a healthy rodent can spread disease. They also continuously gnaw at anything they can get their paws on. That includes not just your food but cardboard boxes and electrical wire. So, they aren’t just a health violation – they can be a fire risk, can directly damage supplies and materials, and will cost you money that could have been avoided with proper management. Many restaurants leave the door to the kitchen open – we get it; it’s hot in there. Rodents can obviously get in through an open door, but they don’t need it. Rats can fit through holes the size of a quarter and mice the size of a dime, so keeping them out is not easy. Having a professional that will not just treat for the pests but can install exclusions to help keep them out in the first place is key.
Cockroaches – Cockroaches are not only harmful to your reputation. They can cause food to spoil or be contaminated and they can cause illness. Think about wherever they were just crawling on before they got to your counter: in a dumpster, on a toilet bowl rim, and in sewers are just a few examples. So, whatever they got on them from those places will be quickly transferred to your nice clean counter, food plate, or cookware. They are linked to many bacteria-related illnesses including gastroenteritis, food poisoning, typhoid fever, Cholera, E.coli, and dysentery. Also, roach excrement and shed skins can cause allergic reactions, especially if they get into your air ducts. In general, cockroaches are associated with filth. So even if your restaurant is clean, a scurrying roach will scare off any patron.
There are ways to deal with pests. Having a professional pest control company come in on a routine basis is probably your best bet. The technicians employed by reputable companies are licensed, trained, and certified to not only treat but to perform Integrated Pest Management. IPM is about way more than treating. Western Pest Services has a lot of experience with that.
You can’t afford to have a review involving pests in your restaurant. Reviews gets shared around and can travel swiftly. But remember, if you get a bad review for anything – including pests – responding the right way is important. Always address the review publicly. Thank the reviewer for their comments (even if it’s negative – take the high road). Apologize without making excuses. Tell them you want to make things right with them and then take it offline. Deal with specifics in direct messages. You’re showing others that you take your customers’ feedback seriously – but they don’t need to see the details or jump into the weeds with you. Then you can get back to what you do best – FOOD.