5 ‘Takeaway’ Tips for Proactive Pest Control

Ahead of the Takeaway show this September, Julia Pittman from BPCA member, Beaver Pest Control, shares her 5 top tips takeaways and restaurants can do to be proactive about their pest control.

The exhibition, held at London’s Excel arena claims to be ‘Europe’s leading event for takeaway and restaurant owners’.Takeaway Expo 2016 features over 150 expert speakers, 300 exhibitors and for the first time, BPCA.

The Association will use it’s attendance at the event to highlight the impact pests can have on fast food establishments, present the benefits of proactive pest control, and showcase it’s membership to over 5,000 attendees.

Julia Pittman, Head of Sales, leads Beaver’s Sales and Marketing function and became a partner in the firm early 2014.

When asked about what Takeaway shops, and other food outlets can do to be forward thinking about their pest control, Julia said,

“When you pay for a service from your pest controller you have to think about what’s the best way to make sure you get the most for your money?”

Julia went on to outline the following activities;

Proofing – make sure your pest controller looks for areas which need proofing and provides you with recommendations. Some companies also do a small amount of proofing during their visit. Ask if yours does.

Cleaning – your pest controller should show you areas which may be missed during your cleaning routine. These are normally behind fridges, ovens, etc. Unless your kitchen is jet washed every day there will be areas which are likely to benefit from extra cleaning.

Monitoring – your pest controller is there to actively monitor the risks of pest activity. Make sure they are doing a thorough job and not just ticking boxes in the report folder.

Recording – you should receive a report every visit specifying what your pest controller has found during the visit and what they recommend.

Listen to your professional pest controller – they are the experts. They look at kitchens with pest problems day in and day out. They know where to look and what causes risks. If your pest controller recommends that you take action to prevent pests, then you probably should.

Julia summarised,

“You pay the money, make sure you get a pro-active service. The most effective pest control contracts are a partnership.”



Out with the old…..

…..in with the new!

(Pictured left to right: Simon Forrester (BPCA CEO), Paul Rodman and Martin Harvey)

BPCA President Martin Harvey goes head-to-head with Paul Rodman, who takes over the role from 14 June 2016. Simon Forrester refereed the contest…

Simon Forrester [SF]: How far do you think the Association has come in the last five years?

Paul Rodman [PR]: I think there has been significant progression. I’ve personally seen the Servicing Committee and Executive Board have a much greater level of professionalism and focus – they have changed from a talking shop to something that really delivers.

Martin Harvey [MH]: I’ve been a paid-up member of BPCA since 2001, and joined the Board six years ago. Since I succeeded Henry Mott I suppose it’s difficult to judge; you don’t see yourself, only others see you. People tell me things are moving on at a good pace. I’ve tried to carry on the drive to more efficient meetings where we make decisions with a strategic focus. We now have the right people doing the right jobs – which to me is just good management practice. We understand where we are headed. I’m passing the baton on to Paul and no doubt he will change some things, but keeping up the pace is, I believe, the key to our continued success.

PR: One of the things that attracted me to the Board was the clear vision for BPCA’s future. We are looking for the right people to join us on the Board to help us deliver this vision. The foundation work is done now and people can visualise the strategy.

“One of the things that attracted me…was the clear vision for BPCA’s future.”

BPCA Vision: Driving excellence in pest management

BPCA Mission: To become the professional association for the UK public health pest control industry by providing our membership with opportunities to increase their professionalism, profile and profit.

“The foundation work is done now and people can visualise the strategy.”

MH: Yes, it’s definitely a vision thing.

PR: The quality assurance managers I come across on food manufacturing sites say culture is the hardest thing to change in order to deal with issues, and as an organisation BPCA is no different.

MH: We’ve modernised the Association in the past few years, bringing in staffing expertise from outside the sector, which has been hugely beneficial. Interesting you talk about culture; it’s the biggest thing we have started to change – but we are still not there yet. Our industry is being forced to professionalise, and I believe BPCA has to be at the vanguard of that, no matter how many friends or enemies we make.

PR: External bodies are saying the same thing. Pest Control is too important to get wrong, and we can’t keep doing what we have always done. If we don’t adapt we will be left behind.

SF: There’s a clear lack of focus on regulation from Government; we are being told to self-police. What is BPCA’s role?

PR: We’ve allowed the manufacturers to take up the mantle of protecting the products we use, and by extension the environment. While these initiatives are great, the servicing companies need to be at the forefront of this, not just leave it to the suppliers.

MH: Initiatives such as CEPA Certified® and EN16636 are great examples of how we are trying to take back control of our destiny. Auditing bodies are already embracing this standard. They are the ones who are currently setting the agenda, saying you must do ‘X’ to be considered for contract work. We can use this vehicle to drive quality in our sector. That process has moved rapidly in the last 18 months or so. It was great to be involved with the launch of the Standard in Brussels – it was sobering (but fantastic) to see the number of high-profile people on the European stage who take this seriously. We are at the heart of the success of the standard, and that can only bode well for our future profile.

PR: I can see the expansion of the standard, and we are leading it – we’re the top of the European league table of certified companies, and likely to stay there. This will gain momentum as more and more specifications embrace the standard.

SF: But is more red tape what our sector needs?

PR: Members do like regulation and structure, as long as it’s appropriate; they can identify with that. We want certainty and a level playing field for all, and regulation can provide that by excluding the cowboys. Clients want companies with a proper pest management structure, and I believe they will be willing to pay for this.

MH: CEPA Certified® is a useful vehicle to say ‘we are a quality outfit’ – it’s regulation by another route. I’ve been encouraged to see some proper debate (though painful) on us as members of the Association acting ethically, professionally, and properly. By that I mean thinking not just about today or the month end, but thinking long term about the impact of what we do and how we do it. The industry has suffered over the last 10-15 years through a culture of poor selling and poor servicing which leads to terminations and unhappy customers. This means that some customers don’t value what we do, and sometimes decide to do it themselves.

“….we have turned BPCA from a bit of a cosy club into an association, and now it’s becoming a proper business.”

PR: We all benefit from these issues being tackled and put out in the open.

SF: So how do we stop the devaluation of what we do?

PR: I think that stewardship and regulation is key. Other control methods will be under the microscope in the future, rodenticides will not be the end of this. We’re seeing it with glue boards, for example. BPCA is leading on this subject to establish a ban on public sale and use, and break-back traps are on our radar. BPCA is leading here and will elsewhere. During my presidency I intend to put BPCA at the heart of professionalism, leading the debate on stewardship of all products. If we can create that definition of ‘professional’ we can add value.

SF: What are the ‘elephants in the room?’

PR: Internet sales are a real concern. A free market allows anything to be sold to anyone, but Government isn’t interested in policing it. We need to work with the suppliers to ensure ethical sales. Manufacturers and distributors have an innate responsibility to ensure understanding of who they should sell to and what knowledge should be there before use. Internet sales must include safe use guidance and be policed properly.

MH: It’s morally irresponsible to sell it to just anyone if it says ‘for professional use only’. Apart from the risks of misuse, that cheapens the offering of a professional pest controller who has set up a legitimate business, has spent time getting trained, and is trying to do the very best job they can. If Joe Bloggs from a chip shop can buy and use the same products as us, without any checks and balances, where’s the value?

PR: If the customer sees us as just the ‘placer of baits and the sprayer of insecticides’, and they can buy the same things, we are doomed. We need to demonstrate the value to clients, starting with education of our industry to explain to clients the value of using professionals. The best way is to be properly trained, and the best place for that training is BPCA.

“During my presidency I intend to put BPCA at the heart of professionalism, leading the debate on stewardship of all products.”


SF: We’re seeing lots of ‘super rat’ stories – pests are flavour of the month again. What do you think BPCA should be doing to offset the more scandalous stories?

PR: We should all ensure we answer professionally and if possible with science to back us. The media are after a story, and there’s clear mileage for them in adding fear. We need to remain distant from that.

MH: Giant cannibal rat stories get front page news, even if they are fake. While it’s difficult to resist, I’d advise members ‘don’t join the bandwagon – stay clear of it’. BPCA has a role to play by offering guidance on how to answer this type of enquiry. I’d also say that the media always wants to go out and see a bad site, they aren’t interested in ‘safe’ or a site where you have successfully controlled an issue – that’s boring for them. No, the media generally seem to want ‘car crash TV’ or stories – we shouldn’t stoop to that level.

PR: But auditors and food manufacturers are food safety aware, and we’ve had a lot of success in improving their understanding of pest control, frequencies on service, what qualifications to seek and standards to achieve. Martin championed our work to change specifications, and we had some real successes. During my presidency I am establishing a directory of specifications for members to access – there’s nothing worse than being measured against something you haven’t seen or find it really difficult to get hold of.

MH: One of our goals was to engage with opinion formers (specifiers, journalists, politicians, regulators) in order to raise the importance of public health pest control, and we’ve done well so far.

PR: That’s one of the key things I want to accomplish. We’re looking for a patron to give us some additional leverage in Westminster, we will keep up the momentum to professionalise the sector, and we want to talk to clients about why they should always use a BPCA Member. If I can accomplish these things and more in the next two years I’ll be happy.

SF: So, Martin, in a few weeks you hand over to Paul. What is your role then?

MH: From the AGM onwards I see my job as someone that Paul and his Vice-Presidents can call upon, but I have no intention of being a back-seat driver. The reason the Past President stays on is to be accountable for the decisions they’ve made, and to help see things through in a consultative role. It’s now down to Paul and his team to deliver.

PR: It’s really important to have that. I’d like to take the opportunity to thank Martin for his hard work – he’s done a sterling job. He’s still a key part of the team alongside me, the VPs and the Treasurer. But we also need input from all the membership; we need new ideas and to take collective ownership of them.

I suppose I would say I’m the principal shareholder in the ‘business’ of BPCA, but every member has a stake too, and I want to get more of them engaged and involved with what we do, to everyone’s benefit. I have some ideas about how we change our structure to accomplish that.

MH: I’ve been a bull at a gate on occasion to drive things through, which I make no apologies for. That has by and large paid off, for example the change to criteria around qualifications and CPD. But I think one of my greatest successes has been to let the staff team get on with it, and I think I’ve freed them up to do just that. The Board makes sure we go where we need to, the staff do what’s needed to get us there.

PR: In the last few years we have turned BPCA from a bit of a cosy club into an association, and now it’s becoming a proper business. In the next two years I intend to strengthen that position.

To continue the debate, respond to this article  or contact Paul via President@bpca.org.uk

23 May 2016

EN16636 – does your pest control company measure up?

If you want to see whether your company measures up against the new European Standard EN16636, you can get a copy of the standard from a National Standards body such as the British Standards Institute. BSI charge £174 a copy. For a pdf. Ouch.

We have found the same document available for just EU14.69 (about a tenner) on the Estonian Standards body website www.evs.ee/shop – and you get a free translation in Estonian too!

For companies who want some help to meet the standard (including copies of all documentation required, a pre-audit assessment, guidance on what auditors will be looking for, coaching on how to be audited and pass, etc etc.), BPCA can provide this (no charge for members). Also, from January 2016 all paid-up BPCA Members will have a free audit by a global certification body (Bureau Veritas) against the EN16636 standard – we’ve saved up ready for this and can offer it at no charge to members.

Why do it? Pierre Choraine, the Head of Sector Biocides for DG Health & Food Safety in the European Commission (the man who decides who can buy and use biocides across Europe) said back in March 2015 “…if CEPA Certified can achieve critical mass whereby the Commission can be sure that there are sufficient numbers of pest professionals across Europe to ensure the ongoing protection of public health and assets from pests, we would be minded to add wording to active substance authorisations along the lines of ‘to be used only by CEPA Certified Professionals’…”

So there you have it. European licencing is around the corner, and BPCA members will be ready for it. Even better, it’s included in the cost of BPCA membership. Just like the technician audit that may be required to meet rodenticide stewardship/legislation that one speaker mentioned at the Pest Control News seminar earlier this month. The same speaker talked about significant additional costs, but that won’t apply to BPCA – Members have already paid for this, so they are covered.

‘Coffee and a chat’ is also free.

Will a Robot take your job?

As technology improves and advances, it often poses the question, Could a robot do your job?

According to the BBC’s new ‘Find my automation risk’ tool, it is calculated that by 2020, it’s 73% likely that pest controllers’ jobs will be automated – in the top third of careers which might be for the chop. Research from Oxford University shows that there is likelihood that in the next two decades that 35% of current jobs will be automated, with those involving repetitive tasks, squeezing into small spaces or those with little negotiation or creativity, faring worst.

As more advanced industrial robots gain improved senses and the ability to make more coordinated finger and hand movements to manipulate and assemble objects, they will be able to perform a wider range of increasingly complex manual tasks.

However, as discussed in PPC81’s feature, Back to the Future, it was rightly pointed out that providing effective pest control will always lie with the skill of the pest controller and their ability to use technology that’s available to them.

Do you think pest controllers will or can be replaced?

Let us know your thoughts.

To use the tool go to: www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-34066941

“What code do you live by?”

BPCA President Martin Harvey previously discussed the role of salespeople in our industry in his article “What is the cost of Sales?”.  This time round he talks about something that’s been around in the Association for many years, the Codes of Best Practice (COBP).

I think it’s important that we take a moment to have a look at these and remind ourselves of them, in part because of some recent additions, but mainly because they effectively form part of the terms and conditions of being BPCA Members.

Let’s examine the words to set the scene:

Code – “Rules and Regulations” or “a way of behaving”

Best Practice – “best way to do something”

When somebody says rules and regulations to me, my hackles immediately rise – I don’t want to be told how to do something! But as an industry that uses toxic materials, the Health & Safety angle to some of the codes is important. The Association has set high standards and needs to maintain them through the actions of its membership.

I do however like the phrase “the best way to do something” – yes, I’ll buy into that. I want to be the best, I want my company to be the best, and I want the Association to which I belong to be the best.

I’d also like to know what benefit a COBP will have for me and my business (never mind the Association at the moment) – the classic “What’s in it for me?” angle is extremely important. The main ones are that you can gain commercial advantage, and you know that you are following a code approved by your professional Association – there’s a great feeling of “peace of mind”

The BPCA regularly review and add new Codes of Best Practice, so it’s important to keep up to speed with them – certainly if I was going to be held to account then I’d want to be told about a new set of rules, and maybe reminded about them too.

Members are notified of amended or new COBPs through BPCA’s regular ebulletins, at BPCA Regional Training Forums, and of course through PPC magazine.

It may be a good idea to have a run through the existing codes to refresh your memory– take a moment to measure yourself and your business against them.

Where do we find these Codes of Best Practice?

They are in the public area of the website so we can show the world what our standards are, and why not? We should be proud of the standards that we set, and by doing this we all become just that little bit more accountable as well – never a bad thing in my book.

Who writes the Codes ?

Effectively it’s YOU who write the codes – by saying that I mean it is mainly members who raise the issue in the first place, this then gets discussed at the relevant committee. Once the issue has been discussed there, a COBP is drafted for consultation by the committee members, voted on by them, and then issued.

Case study

Let’s take the code of best practice for precautionary insecticidal treatments as an example.

I have personally used this code to professionally gain a contract from a competitor, who was doing routine night spray treatments of an office block for biting insects without identifying the insects. We all know that this is incorrect, we all know that the pest needs to be identified (by carrying out a proper survey) before the correct treatment programme can be advised, and we also all know that carpet spraying has a limited effective period too.

We won the first site, then fourteen more – all from using one of the Codes of Best Practice in a professional way.

So in summary:

  • The Codes are there for you on the BPCA website
  • The Codes form part of the conditions of membership
  • The Codes can be used to gain commercial advantage
  • The Association is helping you by creating these Codes
  • You have an input to these Codes through the relevant BPCA Committee

BPCA’s Codes of Best Practices are available for the public to read and download, so professionalism of BPCA members can be seen through the codes.


Roaches that pass in the night

Can cockroach species co-exist?

Pest management industry wisdom says that the UK’s cockroaches are pretty unsociable, preferring not to mix with other cockroach species. And when they do, the dominant German cockroach (Blatella germanica) quickly overcomes the more passive, smaller and slower-breeding species such as the Oriental cockroach (B. orientalis).

So when a meat retail outlet had a significant roach problem, with sticky traps filling up overnight with both oriental and German roaches, the technician called the BPCA  office for advice.

We advised that, while roach species mixed together in labs will quickly be dominated by B. germanica, in the real world, things are a bit different. B. orientalis may live in a sub-floor void or in a wall, while B. germanica prefers warmer spots like fridge motors or ovens. Then, in the dark of the night, both species are likely coming onto the shop floor to feed, thus the mixed catch on the sticky boards. One caveat; large populations of roaches may well throw out a signficant colour variation, which to the untrained eye might appear to be a different species. In this case however it was clearly two different species that had met a sticky end together.

So the next time your catch traps show a mix of roaches, don’t think they are ganging up on you – it’s just ships that pass in the night.

Update from the Pest Management Alliance: Rodenticide Stewardship and the Professional Pest Management Sector

Two years ago manufacturers and users of anticoagulant rodenticides were presented with a clear choice; ensure stewardship of these products or potentially lose their use. The members of the Pest Management Alliance were consulted by HSE/CRRU as part of the professional pest control sector. We made several key recommendations around qualifications and ongoing competence, all of which were adopted by CRRU and subsequently agreed by HSE earlier this year. It is clear that HSE and government recognise the professionalism of our sector – they certainly did not need much persuading that we are the ‘gold standard’. The gamekeepers have got on board with this, recently developing a course and qualification and providing support for their members to stay up to date with changes in rodent control. The agricultural sector has realised that they too must comply with the stewardship regime, and have asked to have two different ‘routes to competence’ available to farms. The first is the same as ours – to get qualified and stay up to date. The second is by remaining on an audited and accepted Farm Assurance Scheme (FAS). These are not a lower standard, as some have claimed. Nor are they an easy way out. They involve annual site audits which include the CRRU Code of Best Practice (CoBP). Failure to comply may result in expulsion from the FAS. The training of auditors in the requirements of the CRRU CoBP will be vital, and the Alliance will be pushing for high standards to be set and maintained.

Only around half of farmers are in a FAS. The remainder if they wish to have access to rodenticides will be forced to achieve a qualification (the same qualification as everyone else), or contract out the work to a certified professional such as those represented by a member of the Pest Management Alliance.

It is clear that the professional user sector is well placed to benefit from stewardship. Most technicians have a relevant qualification, or can obtain the CRRU-approved safe use of rodenticides qualification either in person or online. If users in other sectors do not come up to the standard by December 2017 then professional pest controllers will be ready to take on this lucrative work. We have training, qualifications and CPD in place. The Stewardship regime has proven to be a great opportunity to raise standards within our sector.

Point of sale guidelines will be coming in soon, and things will change rapidly, with strict controls to prevent the sale of professional use only rodenticides to non-certificated users. This will be brought in by the end of March 2016.

Many have called for licencing, and with no appetite from government to do this, setting a high standard is the next best thing. For those who do not meet this standard, the future looks bleak. Also, if residue levels of rodenticides in non-target species do not decrease, HSE will have to consider tightening up their user criteria, and we feel confident that trained and competent pest controllers will be the last to lose these anticoagulant products. There are no assurances over what might happen. However, our sector is the ‘high water mark’. We have complied with everything set by HSE, and have a strong position going forward.

Are we happy with the deal we have secured for our collective memberships? Broadly, yes. We now have a standard within our sector to which all users must aspire. This also makes life much more difficult for the ‘cowboys’ and while licencing is a remote possibility, this provides a strong benchmark against which to measure professional rodent control.

About the Alliance

The Pest Management Alliance consists of representatives from the British Pest Control Association, the CIEH National Pest Advisory Panel, and the National Pest Technicians Association. The purpose of the Pest Management Alliance is to gather, consolidate and focus the views of the professional Pest Control Industry on specific key issues of concern, and then relay and promote those views to the main Centres of Influence in government and/or associated agencies.


For more information, see us at PestTech.

The industry that dare not speak its name

David Lodge discusses why clients shouldn’t be ashamed of pest control – they should shout it from the rooftops

Oscar Wilde was not a pest controller, but had he been he might well have penned this quote as opposed to that immortal one relating to love. As an industry, pest control is kept hidden by clients, like an illicit love affair.  But why aren’t we openly loved by you?

I guess that you are just happy to maintain a covert relationship with a pest controller. After all, we know how to keep a secret, we operate with both the stealth of the SAS and the speed of a ninja, and we appreciate that discretion is key. Of course, if the worst ever did happen and we were to be discovered in your metaphorical wardrobe without our clothes on, we could always blame it upon that infestation of hungry clothes moth.

But why are the benefits of pest control not shouted about from the houses, hotels and restaurants?  When I planned this article I thought ‘great, we’ve carried out some fantastic work throughout London hotels and restaurants, this is a real chance to present some case studies on working together to achieve zero tolerance’. Suffice to say our clientèle were not falling over themselves to be referenced, and consequently the interviews and quotes have not been forthcoming.

Had of course Mr Wilde been a pest controller in America today he would not have written these words (yes I know that he didn’t) because over the pond they are proud to advertise the fact that they employ companies to keep their premises pest-free. Should this not be the attitude of the UK hospitality industry too?

The cultural shift over there is that restaurant patrons and hotel guests look for proof of pest control contracts before spending their money in premises; this culture stemming from the home, where contracts are more common.

So should your property proudly declare its love? Would you benefit from a ‘protected by…’ plaque for pest control, just like you do with your security or fire protection?  Many clients have considered this proposal, but demurred at the last minute. Nobody wants to admit that pests exist, or might be a problem.

We recently picked up a contract with a Five Star Hotel somewhere in London that had a significant problem with mice. The hotel was terrified of the adverse publicity, even though most other buildings around it suffered the same fate. The hotel has an external skin with multiple entry points via an insulated void; ideal mouse territory. Just to make this slightly more interesting the mice were exhibiting behavioural resistance, ie they had learned to avoid bait boxes and cereal-based poisons, even the infamous sticky board. With a limited range of treatment options, harnessing the assistance and trust of the building owners and staff was vital.

Beaver Pest Control ultimately succeeded in ridding this hotel, and many other hostelries throughout London, of pests by going back to basics. We found out what is going on in the ceiling and wall voids, the areas where the mice breed and hide. A good survey will uncover signs of activity, and the experienced pest controller will safely locate tracking powders, palatable baits (possibly using local food sources), and even modern day snap traps to achieve control.

Our hotel General Manager has an excellent working relationship with her technician, resulting in blocking holes correctly, making a competent handyman available, improved stacking, rotation and cleaning, carrying out all of our recommendations and paying extra to professionally proof doors and external apertures like vents and windows.

Time, ingenuity, teamwork and effort solved this problem, as it shall yours. Yes, this comes at a cost, both financially and in terms of commitment. However, the burning question always remains, how much is the real cost to you in terms of contamination and reputation should the work not be carried out properly?

And remember, you cannot keep an affair a secret forever, so you might as well come clean now. Let’s get married!

Plant room – what Pests may be Lurking and why?

Plant rooms may not necessarily by the first place that you consider when thinking of pest activity. But just because plant rooms aren’t particularly hospitable for humans, it doesn’t necessarily mean pests feel the same.

Consider what a pest typically requires to survive. Two of the key requirements are warmth and harbourage (a safe place to live that is relatively undisturbed). Think of a plant room in that kind of context then it starts to become a more attractive proposition. Place that room in an environment that offers a nearby food source, such as a production line, manufacturing plant, rubbish area or kitchen, and we have a real viable living are for pests.

But what about the noise and moving parts present in a plant room? Surely these will discourage pests? Well, possibly not. Pest species such as rodents are skilled adaptors. They will overcome obstacles such as noise if the prize of safety, warmth and food source can be obtained. The less human disturbance the better as far as species such as rats are concerned, so a plant room which may be secured to prevent human access is perfect. Remember plant rooms with vents and louvers are often open to the intrusion of pests such as rodents. Mice are fantastic climbers and will have no problem gaining access to plant area from high level if the rewards are great enough.

Risks from rodents
If species such as rats and mice do become resident in plant areas, there are a number of risks to be considered. Rodents can be incredible destructive to plant and machinery if infestations go undiscovered and unchecked. This is due to rodent habits of gnawing and chewing. Rodents front incisor teeth grow constantly and so must be worn down by gnawing on hard surfaces. Their incredibly strong teeth can chew through wire, cables, wood, cement and even brick. A chewing rodent amongst plant machinery can cause serious damage to equipment and hours of down time as faults are tracked down and repaired. Fire is a real risk if cables are damaged. Destruction can also be caused by rodents nesting amongst warm machinery if debris from the nest becomes entangled in moving parts.

Insect pests
Maintenance staff that enter plant rooms on a regular basis should also be aware that these locations are often just as attractive to a number of insect pests as they are to rodents. Cockroach species such as the German and the Oriental cockroach are both extremely comfortable warm areas such as plant rooms. If the sites you work on offer a combination of high temperatures, accessible food source, moisture and hiding places, it could be perfect for cockroach activity. The fact that cockroaches feed on anything organic, including animal and human waste, makes them just as likely to spread disease as rodents, and because insect breeding is temperature dependant, a warm plant room can encourage cockroach population explosions which will rapidly spread to high locations due to the cockroach’s excellent climbing ability.

Fly activity is also a serious cause for concern for anyone who needs to access plant rooms. Species such as the common house fly transmit a number of pathogens due to their unsavoury breeding habits. Whilst feeding they defecate and vomit, causing even more contamination. House fly can go through a full life cycle from the point where they lay an egg to becoming an adult in 5 to 7 days in favourable temperature conditions as you would expect to find in many food manufacturing sites. Because of this, exclusion of flying insects is absolutely essential. Opening doors and windows should be screened against insect intrusion, and electronic fly killing devices should be considered to capture any fly that manages to get through any proofing measures. Scrupulous hygiene in plant room areas will also remove potential breeding sites for fly and other insect species that prefer warm, damp conditions.

Bird pests
Birds also have a habit of accessing plant rooms for warmth and shelter if they have the opportunity to, again this can also cause health issues for staff coming into contact with residues. Pigeons for example carry a number of diseases that can be transmitted to people, some of which can be deadly. Bird droppings also contain a number of diseases and infections such as salmonella that if contracted by staff can be devastating.  When dry, pigeon droppings can become airborne in very small particles, continually contaminating any employees in the area and leading to a number of respiratory complaints such as psittacosis. If you have had birds in a plant room and the debris has not been cleared, it is essential that you investigate a means of removing the waste. But remember, birds in the United Kingdom are protected species, you can only deal with them if they are causing certain issues using approved methods. Always consult a bird management company for advice before undertaking any control measures.

Removing unwanted pests
Often, the key to pest eradication is early detection. If you are aware of pest activity in your employers or customers plant rooms, don’t sit on your laurels. Inform the site and get a pest control professional to inspect and clear the pest problem. Pests like rats in a plant room will eventually cause serious damage to equipment and may impact on the health of staff, so ensure they are dealt with promptly and professionally before it is too late.

British Pest Control Association (BPCA) members are qualified, insured, are committed to Continual Professional Development, and have access to industry leading Health and Safety consultants to ensure they are working safely and responsibly. They benefit from the support of a world renowned not-for-profit trade association that is available to support them, and their customers with pest prevention advice and awareness training.

What is the cost of sales?

BPCA President and owner of Harvey Environmental Ltd has shared his thoughts with PPC80 and alexo on the role of a sales team and the cost of sales within the industry.

There are sectors of the Pest Control industry, as with many walks of life, which are heavily sales focused. I know this from first-hand experience; I was a Surveyor and then a Sales Manager for a large national operator. Just lately though, I’ve been wondering what place Salespeople have in our industry.

Don’t get me wrong, there is always a need to drive business forward, and for that matter I guess any right-minded businessperson ‘sells’; but is having salespeople the way to do it?

I so often experience that my competitors with sales teams on a monthly target will undercut and promise the world to get another client on the books. I also see with these businesses that subsequent service is often substandard because they’ve lowered their price so much to make the sale that there’s no money left to do a proper job.

Ultimately what then happens is that the customer realises they aren’t receiving what they need, and look elsewhere for someone who will do what they say they’re going to.

Make sense? No – I didn’t think so. The customer is actually paying money for a service they aren’t getting and often they are being asked to pay more to put right what should have been done in the first place.

The company that come in and look at the job properly (detailed survey, time taken to understand the site issues and re-infestation risks) and price properly are seen as honest and professional (but often more expensive) – the outgoing company are cursed with “never darken our door again” but the industry is also tarnished by the initial poor experience – (on an association level, I would be happier if this type of thing was limited to companies and individuals outside of BPCA but sadly this is not always the case).

I wear two hats – the BPCA hat and my own Harvey Environmental one.

From my own stance we can tell the world that we think we’re good at our job – and we have lots of references from delighted customers to back our beliefs – the key thing is that we don’t arm-twist, promise jam tomorrow and lead people into never-never land.

I would suggest the above philosophy is one that would suit the industry well.

I also think that we should be honest at all times and by doing that we earn trust. When selling were not only representing the standards of our companies – we are representing the standards of the association as well.

It does pay to take less money out of a deal “there and then” and if by doing this the client thinks more of us and it leads to longer term benefits – this could be more repeat orders, more sites to service and far more longevity of the contract. This type of approach also protects the contract from competitor approach and from the approach of the accountant’s pen when cost savings are being sought.

I believe that quite the opposite of the ‘sales at any price’ ethos, quality of service and quality of customer relationship must be our top one priorities.

I have lots of friends whose businesses wouldn’t be what they are today without sales teams, but I for one don’t think that is how Pest Control should work.

We aren’t selling cars, we’re a service, and a service that can’t afford to cut corners at that. We can’t get a bulk deal on a load of Technicians and sell them on at a discount.

The cost is what it is.

Professional companies will solve pest problems, and clients are willing to pay for it (despite what they might tell you).

I guess you could say that the modern way of promotion should be the perfect way of doing business for Association members. With the way that the industry is moving/has moved already it could be said that the days are gone where we had to promise to be cheaper than the next guy just to get a foothold.

In today’s world, people can search easily and see what’s on offer, and find out for themselves who can meet their needs – but we can also make it clearer in a much easier fashion that we’re in the market, offering good quality Pest Control solutions.

I don’t believe that this industry is that complicated, quite the contrary actually – and I don’t believe that we need to complicate it to make sales – a straightforward and honest approach has to be the way to go – backed up with a quality survey and good references.

It matters to me that my customers do well as I want to work with them for a long time. It makes financial sense for my turnover, and their reputation is my reputation.

I’ll continue to sell them exactly what they need, but it won’t be a Salesman on a monthly target who sells it to them.

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