Oct 3, 2012 – Correcting Some Misunderstandings?


I have just started to service a restaurant with relatively minor pest issues, but they will not allow me to service when there is any food present, giving me only a small window of opportunity for when I can perform the service. I wanted to get some expert advice on this before pleading my case. I feel that I am experienced and trained enough to know how to treat a restaurant without contaminating any food. My company's standard is to stick mostly to IPM procedures, including inspection, small amounts of boric acid dust, and monitors in most cases. We typically do not use liquids or aerosols and definitely do not fog.


Ultimately the customer is going to get their way, but I wonder if there are some issues here that you can dig out and discuss with this customer. Perhaps they have had some bad experiences with previous pest control companies and that feeling is carrying over to you and what you will provide. It may simply be a misunderstanding on their part of what you actually do for your program. People can pick up impressions of service industries and have a hard time letting them go. In this case perhaps this customer has just heard or read horror stories about bad pest control services and now expects that this is the normal way our industry operates. It sounds like you, however, are on the right track, and a heart to heart discussion with the customer should bring out what the issues are and help him to understand why you are a step above the previous companies. 

However, it may very well be that they do not want pest control being performed while their customers are present in this restaurant or while the kitchen is busy and in operation. Since their pest issues are minor so far they may prefer that their clientele don't have to watch someone doing pest control operations while they dine, suggesting to these customers that some awful bugs must be present or they wouldn't need to have you there. It may just be that having you working there while the restaurant is open for business would be perceived as an inconvenience for either the customers or the employees. If so, perhaps you can work out a compromise that allows you to do certain operations out of sight of the customers in the dining areas, and other procedures when the restaurant is closed for business. I can understand why they would not want you doing even careful inspections, which would include the dining areas, while patrons are sitting at the tables watching. It could be bad for the ambience. 

Now, by "food present" how far are they carrying it? If that means that the only time you would be permitted to do your work is when the restaurant is actually shut down or shutting down, that is more of a problem. Are they requiring that you stay out until after dining hours are over with and the employees have finished all of the final washing and cleanup that they do? This may be something that you can work on to come to that compromise that works for both of you. Perhaps there is some misunderstanding about the nature of the products that you may use. When they think of a "dust" they may perceive it being blown all over the place, perhaps, once again, due to some bad previous experience. Perhaps they think our liquid and aerosol products are "fumigants" or "highly volatile", and explaining the nature of the materials could clear that up. Perhaps they believe that exposed food is absolutely going to be contaminated because insecticide vapors will be drifting all over the facility as you apply them. Perhaps they do not understand insect bait products and how they can be applied with zero exposure to anyone or anything outside the crevice or void you apply them into. 

Hopefully I am on track here and a more detailed discussion with the customer will reveal what his concerns really are and allow you to clear them up. But, again, the customer has the right to dictate the terms, and if it simply does not work for you then this may be a client that would lose you money in the long run and should not be taken on. 

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