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!

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