Forming a Successful Partnership with Your Pest Management Provider

By Frank Meek International Technical & Training Director, Orkin, LLC | May 19, 2010

Thorough and efficient pest management in your hotel is not a one-man show. In order to be successful in your efforts, you must have the cooperation of your staff as well as a pest management professional you can trust. But how do you select the best service provider, and once you do, how do you know who handles each responsibility?

Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, has become the standard for pest management in hotels because it combines multiple control techniques to effectively combat pests. IPM practitioners recognize that by removing or blocking access to basic elements essential to pest survival, such as food, water and shelter, they can help prevent pests before using reactive treatment methods.

Given the relative complexity of IPM and the high stakes placed on outcomes, most hoteliers choose to outsource their IPM programs. But, the importance of receiving excellent service makes understanding how to choose the right IPM provider a must.

1. Searching for Your IPM Partner

As with many complex decisions, the first step is to solicit recommendations from your industry colleagues. When discussing potential providers with your colleagues, ask questions that will separate credible and experienced providers from the rest. The following are several questions you should ask and responses to look for:

  • Does the provider offer an Integrated Pest Management program tailored to the special needs of hotel buildings? Not all hospitality establishments are created equal. Your program must fit the specific needs of your building in order to be most effective.
  • Does the provider specialize in commercial pest control? Providers should have extensive experience in commercial pest control and in the hospitality industry in particular.
  • Are the provider's technicians trained to deliver IPM in a hospitality environment? Look for providers with specialized training programs and a substantial number of IPM contracts with similar establishments.
  • How long has the reference used the provider? Since successful IPM programs rely on long-term partnerships and because IPM is an ongoing process that can take time to show results (positive or negative), give more weight to recommendations by peers who have a good track record with the provider they recommend.
  • What other hotels does the provider service? Look for businesses of similar size and scope.
  • Does the provider offer a satisfaction guarantee on its service? In the case of dissatisfaction, the guarantee should offer, at a minimum, complimentary service until the customer is satisfied.
  • What is the average response time to a pest-related emergency? Is there an extra charge for such emergency responses? Pest sightings in a hotel can be cause for alarm, especially in guest areas. Credible providers will understand this and should guarantee an on-site response within 24 hours at no additional charge.
  • What documentation is provided with the service? An effective IPM program should provide detailed documentation of all pest activity and services performed. This data can be used to track trends and share the pest management program's outcomes with hotel management and public health inspectors. Once you've completed your research and found the answers to these initial questions, part two of this phase is to contact candidate providers directly and ask more questions. Your objective is to pare down your list to just a handful of potential providers.
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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.