Thank you to those of you who responded to our recent survey. I am flattered not only by your suggestions but also by your positive comments. Based on what I have heard from folks during my travels and through the survey, I would like to start this year by providing a list of 30 helpful tips I have learned in my 30 years working in professional pest management. In fact, some of these have been borrowed shamelessly from Barile@Bayer subscribers.
Below please find my first 15 tips in this two-part series.
- Invest in good flashlights: If you can't see, you can't observe, identify and report accurately. Quality, size and utility should meet the requirements of the job.
- Listen to your customers: They may not be pest management experts, but they provide valuable insight. Train technicians in listening skills-skills I firmly believe need to be taught.
- Assign sprayer/equipment maintenance as you would schedule a service stop: Code B&G maintenance into technicians' personal data assistants as a regular service. Prevent in-route down time that costs dollars and anxiety.
- Double your monitors: Information is priceless. Don't skimp on the opportunity to continually gather this information.
- Hold bull sessions: Regularly schedule a brief meeting with technicians (smaller groups of 4-5 employees) as an open, no-fault discussion of any and all issues. Keep the teams intact to build trust and leadership. You will be surprised at what you learn.
- Use the 'red mouse': Buy a joke rubber mouse, paint it red and hide it in a different route or bait station every month. When found, reward the tech with a nominal gift, like lunch or a gas gift card. Word will spread, and you will see station checking and maintenance increase with your techs.
- Appoint a designated hitter (aka: the guest tech): Not punitive, but send a different technician into an account occasionally for a new view of conditions. Share the learnings not as a quality review, but as a training opportunity. It works both ways.
- Walk backwards: Suggest that technicians work accounts in reverse to gain different perspectives. Actions like entering through the exit and walking counterclockwise will break up the routine.
- Remember anniversary: Contact your customers on their account anniversary dates and thank them for their business. Provide that extra touch by providing your technicians with personalized thank-you cards they can leave on the next service visit corresponding to the date.
- Pre-Bait for Ants: Use a 50/50 mix of honey and water to pre-bait ants. Determine activity levels spatially, identify target species and establish pheromone sites for future baiting.
- Use plumber's caulk: Provide technicians with this effective mechanical control. Seal pest entry/access around pipes, utility chases and small cracks that allow entry or movement in accounts. Be an integrated pest management practitioner.
- Remember secondary bait pests: Rodenticides can attract and support pest arthropods, including scavenging beetles (e.g. carpet beetles), silverfish and psocids. Maintain fresh bait, and if necessary, place labeled insect baits (granular and gel baits) in rodent stations.
- Use inspection mirrors: I am getting older and cannot bend and stretch like I used to in the past. Provide technicians with extendable inspection mirrors to see into hidden harborages. I suggest using all-metal mirrors, as glass is not permitted in most food processing/manufacturing sites. Metal mirrors can be found in auto part retail locations.
- Use N/P 95 particle/dust masks: I recommend using these masks not to protect from insecticides, but to protect from dusts, fungus and respiratory hazards. These are very important when handling and working around rodent carcasses and feces, accumulations of dead insects (flies, ladybugs, stink bugs and bed bugs) and animal nests (birds, bats and wildlife).
- Conduct label comparisons: Labels are changing, so be sure to do this when you receive new product supplies. Are you aware when the changes are occurring? When you receive the new product, do a side-by-side read with the old product. Remember you must comply with the directions on the package you are currently using unless there is significant regulatory action. Communicate what the changes are and when they become enforceable.
I hope you find these first 15 tips valuable. Be on the lookout for part two of this series later this year. Happy spring!