Protecting a restaurant's reputation is priority #1 for any owner operator, and the impact of a rodent infestation can be devastating. Word-of-mouth – the cornerstone marketing tool of every successful restaurant – becomes a restaurant's worst enemy in the wake of rodent infestation. An independent poll of foodservice consumers conducted by Orkin, Inc., found that more than 60% of frequent restaurant diners would tell five or more acquaintances about a pest sighting at a restaurant. As today's definition of 'acquaintance' has expanded to include social media contacts, one customer's circle of influence becomes global with a single click. And no need to take the customer's word for it – smartphone videos capturing rodent activity can be posted online and viral within a matter of hours. There is simply no containing a rodent story once exposed.
The loss of reputation, time, revenue and peace-of-mind that accompany a rodent infestation is why Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices are critical to the longevity of any restaurant. According to the Mallis Handbook of Pest Control, a combination of exclusion and sanitation provides the best long-term and cost effective component of any rodent IPM program. Fundamentally, exclusion involves the elimination of cracks, crevices, and other spaces to prevent pests from entering a building. Rodents can squeeze through an opening as small as ¼ inch, which means access points are not hard for them to find. Common rodent entry points include: exterior doors, garage and/or loading dock doors, air vents, and at points where electrical, water, gas, sewer and HVAC lines enter the building. Rats and mice can also gain entry through small cracks in the foundation, by gnawing through rubber door sweeps, and beneath roofing tiles.
Rats cause an estimated $19 billion per year in losses and damages (Pimentel, et al. 1999), and Xcluder's line of rodent-proof exclusion products are a restaurant owner's best line of defense. Store-bought quick fixes such as steel wool and spray foam may satisfy a health inspector, but do not provide the level of protection that is critical to a restaurant's survival. Xcluder is the only exclusion material proven effective by the USDA APHIS Lab, offering unparalleled protection in the form of fill fabric for cracks and crevices, rodent-proof door seals for exterior doors and rodent-proof door sweeps for loading dock and garage doors. It’s cliché but true – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure (and many, many pounds of contaminated food where rodents are concerned).
IPM practices involving exclusion and sanitation are simply the best prevention money can buy. Contact a pest management professional that understands and supports exclusion methods and work to develop and implement a comprehensive plan that protects both interior and exterior weaknesses. Reiterate to employees the importance of sanitation and facility monitoring for signs of rodent activity. And rely on proven, long-term exclusion solutions like those offered by Xcluder to protect both your customers and your business. Photo credit to Flickr - Caruba - Banksy Rat Mural in Soho, New York: There's No Such Thing As Good Publicity