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Mr. Meek

Security & Safety

5 Pest Resolutions to Help You Ring in the New Year

By Frank Meek, International Technical & Training Director, Orkin, LLC

Effective pest management is an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Planning ahead for pest management in the coming year can not only help you manage future pest problems, but also help you build upon and improve your existing pest management program. In 2012, consider partnering with a pest management professional to protect your establishment and help make pests a thing of the past.

The constant flow of guests in and out of your establishment makes your business highly susceptible to pest infestations. Despite this fact, there are many different pest management techniques you can employ to help keep pests out of your facility. While your first defense should be implementing an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program, there are a few other key areas that business owners need to pay particular attention to when planning for the new year. Here are five pest resolutions to encourage a proactive and successful pest management program in 2012:

1. Avoid Bad Word-of-Mouth

In a climate of outspoken customer feedback and instant online reviews, it can only take one incident to destroy your property's hard-earned reputation. In fact, pest mentions in hotels are on the uptick. According to USA Today, between 2009 and 2010, bed bug references increased 11 percent for U.S. hotel reviews on Tripadvisor.com. Negative word of mouth and unwanted media coverage damage more than your reputation - they also damage your bottom line. Fortunately, regular inspections and proactive maintenance of pest "hot spots" around your property will help keep flies, mice, cockroaches, bed bugs and other unwelcome guests under control. Your pest management professional can work with you and your staff to assess key areas of your facility.

2. Know Your Roll

The most successful pest management programs are based on strong partnerships between you and your pest management professional. But, it can be challenging to determine the roles each party should play and the level of service you should expect from your provider. A lack of defined roles and/or commitment from each party can disrupt your pest management program, potentially damage your reputation, and even result in expensive litigation. Review the list of responsibilities below to help you understand your role versus your provider's role.

Your Role:

• Make the premises available and prepare for service per your service agreement conditions.
• Provide notice to employees of upcoming pesticide applications.
• Promptly correct deficiencies noted on service reports, including facility maintenance, sanitation and landscaping work.
• Train your staff to conduct routine cleanings that do not disturb pest management methods in place.
• Monitor and evaluate the service provider's performance on a regular basis.

Your Provider's Role:

• Provide regularly scheduled services, and offer timely, no cost additional visits as needed.
• Perform detailed, thorough inspections and determine appropriate treatment methods.
• Provide written service reports after every visit.
• When called for, carefully select and apply pesticide treatments according to all applicable regulations.
• Provide copies of all labels and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) in an accessible on-site work center.
• Post written notices of any residual-pesticide applications as required.

3. Consider the Business Implications of Bed Bugs and Keep Them Top of Mind

Bed bugs have made a huge resurgence in the past few years, capturing headlines and affecting businesses everywhere. You're probably tired of hearing about this infamous bloodsucker, but the fact is that bed bugs are here to stay. That means it's imperative for your hotel to keep bed bugs top of mind and be prepared for an infestation, should one occur.

Early detection is critical: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the best way to prevent bed bugs is regular inspection. Work with your pest management professional to conduct regular bed bug inspections and educate your housekeeping staff on how to spot the signs of an infestation. If bed bugs are detected, or you suspect bed bugs, contact your pest management professional immediately to inspect the infested room and discuss the best service treatment option for your property.

In addition to being aware of bed bug behavior and learning how to manage an infestation, it's critical for hotel executives to have a bed bug risk management, human resources and litigation plan in place.

To accomplish this, you must be knowledgeable about your business and its vendors. Make sure you understand your insurance and your vendors' insurance, and be familiar with the details of your pest control provider's service agreement. Once you are aware of this information, you can work with your legal department as needed to develop policies customized to your hotel.

When it comes to litigation, your best defense is avoiding it all together. To do this, be proactive. Prepare a comprehensive bed bug identification and control program and implement a staff training program. In addition, know your local laws and consider mandatory mediation in contracts.

Lastly, it's important to understand the human resources implications of bed bugs. Keep an open line of communication with employees and notify them of any existing infestations. Also, establish a bed bug policy for your employees that will encourage them to take preventive measures and report any possible infestations, whether at work or at home. And remember, everyone in your company needs to be aware of your policies. One break in the chain and you can run into problems.

3. Implement Staff Training

Staff participation is key to any successful pest management program. Your employees can help look out for signs of pests before an infestation gets out of hand, but if they don't know what they're looking for, you can't expect them to help. Education is the first step in empowering your staff to make an impact. Many pest management professionals offer free on-site employee training and educational resources you can share with your staff. Here are a few suggestions on how to get your entire staff on board with your pest management program:

• Open up the lines of communication. Establish a good rapport between your pest management professional and your employees so that everyone understands your pest prevention plan.
• Familiarize employees with pest "hot spots." These are the areas of your facility - both inside and out - that may be vulnerable to pest entry.
• Sanitation is critical. Ensure your staff's food is stored in tightly sealed containers and spills are cleaned up immediately.
• Make employees aware of the signs of pest presence. Early monitoring for signs like rub marks, chew marks and droppings can help your pest management professional catch a problem before costly damage occurs.
• Set up a protocol for pest sightings. Identify key staff members and a clear communications process for reporting a pest incident, so everyone knows how to respond should a problem occur.

4. Understand New Technologies

The pest control industry is committed to creating new, effective and environmentally-friendly treatment options to help facilities combat and prevent pests. Within the past few years, several new technologies have been brought to the marketplace - some focusing on environmentally-conscious treatments, and others significantly updating older technologies.

Talk to your pest management provider about the latest technological advances when dealing with a pest issue, and what the best solutions are for your property. It may help you save time and resources, and possibly help prevent an even bigger pest problem down the road. Here are just a few of the latest pest control technologies to be aware of:

• Canine Detection: During an inspection of a facility, bed bug-sniffing dogs, similar to drug-sniffing dogs, can be brought inside to sniff out live bed bugs and their eggs. A trained canine team, consisting of a dog and handler, can detect bed bugs within minutes - a huge advantage to early detection. Check with your pest management professional to see if this service is available in your area.

• DNA Testing: One of the newest advancements in bed bug services, DNA testing can determine if bed bugs are currently or have previously been active in your hotel. A trained pest specialist will inspect key areas suspected of bed bug activity, take DNA swab samples and send them to a lab for processing. Test results typically can be delivered within 24-48 hours.

• Active Monitoring: One of the latest technological innovations is using "active" monitors and detection devices to locate and track resilient pests. Active monitors use advanced heat, carbon dioxide and scent technology to draw in pests that are dwelling within your facility or may wish to dwell there. Other monitors use synthetic copies of insect pheromones to attract insect pests to a glue trap.

• Odor Neutralizers: New technologies are available to help control persistent odors commonly found in commercial environments that house dumpsters and waste management areas. This specialized equipment can be designed to use negative ions, bacteria, proteins and even ozone to bind to pollutants and odors and remove them from the air, or at their source.

Remember, successful pest management is an ongoing process. By planning ahead and evaluating your program, you can help prevent unwanted pests and protect your hotel's bottom line, reputation, guests and employees.

An industry veteran, Frank Meek has been with Orkin since 1986. In 2003, he was named among the future leaders of the pest management industry in Pest Control Technology magazine’s “40 Under 40” ranking. Currently, as the International Technical and Training Director, Mr. Meek provides technical support and training in both sales and service to Orkin's international franchises, helping them grow and develop in their specific markets. As a board-certified entomologist, Mr. Meek teaches Integrated Pest Management principles and can explain how to use all available methodologies to prevent pest infestations in various commercial settings. Mr. Meek can be contacted at 404-888-2898 or fmeek@rollinscorp.com Extended Bio...

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