By Hope Bowman, Technical Specialist, Western Pest Services
With the millennial generation firmly established as the tastemakers and trend-spotters across the globe, businesses are changing how they operate to cater to this fast-growing generation of customers. Millennials demand that the brands they support also promote the same values they care about.
Sustainability is high on millennials’ priority list. In fact, 73 percent of millennials are willing to pay extra for sustainable offerings, according to a recent Nielsen study—up from 50 percent in 2014. Sustainable topics like energy efficiency and water conservation are becoming increasingly important, and potential customers are not only looking for businesses that care about sustainability—they’re demanding it.
Matching this trend, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs are a more environmentally conscience option for pest management. IPM focuses on using proactive and preventive measures, like sanitation, facility maintenance and mechanical controls, to keep pests out. Low-impact chemical treatments are only used as a last resort. Implementing IPM at your establishment can help attract guests while helping to protect your business from pests.
A pest sighting can hurt your bottom line, as guests who spot something can go online and write a scathing review. Many guests have zero tolerance for pests, so doing everything you can to prevent them from getting inside in the first place is your best bet.
Pests are attracted to restaurants and hotels because they have ample opportunity to find the three main things they need to survive: food, water, and shelter. Every business will face different challenges, but IPM programs can be tailored to your needs.
Here’s what you can do to start and maintain an IPM program at your establishment:
Create a Partnership with Your Pest Management Provider
First, reach out to your pest management provider and ask them about implementing an IPM program. An IPM program should be specific to your property and needs that evolve with time, so your provider will need to perform a thorough inspection of the interior and exterior of the building. Once you have determined the pest pressures and challenges at your property, keep communication lines open with your pest management provider. The more information you can give them about the pest issues you are facing, the more easily they can create a plan for how to stop pests.
Educate Your Staff
Pest management is a team effort, so you’ll need your entire staff on board to make your program as effective as possible. Employees are on the front line of your business and they see what happens around the property every day, so making sure that they know where to look and what to look for can be the difference between successful IPM and ongoing pest issues.
Schedule a training session for your employees with your pest management provider. Most providers are happy to teach employees about identifying and documenting pest sightings, and employee engagement in this area will increase the likelihood that issues are spotted and resolved before a guest encounters them.
Also, consider creating an action plan for employees that assigns specific roles or area inspections based on their current job functions. When employees are invested in the IPM program, they’re more likely to participate in the pest management effort.
Employ Exclusion Methods
Preventing pests from entering your establishment is easier than trying to remove them once they’re inside, so implementing a program to keep them out pays off. Specific methods to help prevent and exclude pests include sealing holes and gaps around the outside walls, installing weather stripping around doors and windows and trimming vegetation back at least two feet from the building. Talk with your pest management professional about which methods are best for you.
Pests love filth and clutter, so sanitation is a huge part of a strong IPM program. Pay close attention to areas in your building where there is food and water, like room service areas, buffets, and bars. Take special care to clean up food or beverage spills as soon as they happen. There are a number of other things you can do to sanitize and avoid attracting pests, including:
Practice Ongoing Monitoring
A good IPM program continues to change over time as your property evolves and seasonal pest pressures change. Work with your pest management professional to continually monitor the effectiveness of your program and make any necessary changes or improvements. Keep in mind that as new technology is developed and your needs or goals change, there may be additional opportunities to strengthen your program.
Sustainable pest management is a process that takes time and effort, but the benefits can have a lasting impact. Implementing an IPM program will not only help you better protect your business from pests, but contribute to the overall appeal of your brand. By building a partnership with your pest management professional, communicating with your employees regularly and diligently monitoring your program and tweaking it as needed over time, you’ll be on your way to maintaining an effective and more sustainable pest management program.
Hope Bowman is a Technical Specialist and Board-Certified Entomologist with Western Pest Services, a New Jersey-based pest management company serving businesses and homeowners in major Northeastern markets.