Businesses and individuals rely on self-storage to keep their belongings safe and secure, but pests such as rodents, insects and birds can pose a significant threat to property. Their presence can lead to contamination, damage and deterioration, and create financial losses for facility owners as well as tenants.
Pests can also compromise safety and hygiene, resulting in potential health hazards. Thus, it’s critical for self-storage operators to keep their facilities pest-free through measures that protect the integrity and quality of stored goods as well as preserve customer satisfaction. Let’s look at some common threats as well as best practices you can implement with assistance from a good pest-control partner.
Self-storage facilities can be vulnerable to pest infestations due to the comings and goings of tenants and frequent transfer of goods that make it easier for vermin to enter spaces unnoticed. The most common pests found in storage units include:
- Rodents: Rats and mice prefer to nest in dark, secluded areas with little chance of disturbance. Check for signs of droppings, gnaw marks and even rub marks on walls that can be left from grease or dirt on their bodies. Also keep an eye out for nesting materials, such as shredded paper, cotton, fabric and other packing materials.
- Cockroaches: They prefer dark, warm and humid environments in addition to food sources. Stored items like cardboard boxes and old furniture can all be used as food.
- Termites: The most common termites live in the soil and enter buildings looking for food. Wooden shelving and pallets, cardboard boxes, paper, and furniture are all food sources to sustain a termite population.
Prevention Is Key
To avoid incidents and keep customers’ possessions protected, it’s crucial to implement an integrated pest-management (IPM) program for your self-storage property. A strong program will take into consideration your environment, staff habits and even initial building strategies to prevent pest activity in the first place.
A trusted pest-control provider can assist in setting up and customizing an IPM program for your facility as well as implement ongoing, comprehensive preventive measures. These include:
Property inspection. Your journey should begin with a comprehensive examination that identifies signs of pests. A full property assessment can provide insight to which pests pose the greatest threats to your facility, identify underlying issues that may attract pests, and determine treatment solutions. Keep in mind that access to storage units may be needed to fully evaluate potential issues.
Prevention plan. After your inspection, your provider should develop a playbook of techniques to prevent pest activity. This might include thorough grounds sanitation to reduce attraction as well as maintenance to shut down common entry points and harborage areas. The plan should also include servicing empty units before they’re rented to customers.
Implementation. Your vendor should adhere to the service frequency they recommend for you and be available for any issues that occur in between visits.
Monitoring and documenting. A key part of any pest-management program is perpetual monitoring to ensure it’s working as it should. This allows your provider to make any adjustments as necessary. If rodents are found, consider implementing remote-monitored, rodent-control devices.
Choosing a Provider
When choosing a pest-control provider, it’s essential to find a licensed professional you can trust to implement your plant and coordinate with you effectively. To pick the right partner for your self-storage business, seek answers to these 10 important questions during the vetting process:
- How long have they been in business? It’s important to find a provider with experience, including a long history serving self-storage properties.
- Are they licensed and insured? It’s crucial to ensure your provider licensed and/or certified by the state and other appropriate agencies. Confirm that they’re also covered by liability insurance, so any mistakes they make won’t come out of your pocket.
- Do they service similar businesses? Not all pest-control providers specialize in commercial service, and not all commercial vendors understand self-storage. Find out if your prospects can demonstrate success serving businesses with needs similar to yours.
- Do they practice IPM? As an industry best practice, a solid IPM-based program—with the four steps outlined above—is a must.
- What kind of training do their technicians complete? Pest strategies and technology evolve rapidly, so you want a team that makes ongoing education a priority. While talking to potential providers, ask about background screening as well as the safety protocols they institute.
- What pests are covered in their standard service agreement? If you’re battling certain vermin around your property, find out if they’re included in the prospect’s standard service or if they require an add-on package.
- What specialty services and products do they offer? Maintenance and sanitation are foundational to any good pest-management program, so it’s essential to find an experienced partner that offers services to support a clean environment like disinfection products, drain cleaning and odor control.
- What documentation do they provide? Find out how the provider records services, pest activity and product applications, and make sure they can give you copies of everything.
- How do they communicate with customers? A good provider should have an open dialogue with you, including discussing concerns, reviewing recommendations and noting overall trends around your facility.
- What’s their average response time? If a pest emergency arises, you need feet on the ground as soon as possible to protect your facility and tenant belongings. Ask your prospect if they offer any guarantees around their response time.
Pest control is a critical aspect of maintaining a safe and secure self-storage environment. Don’t let potential damage to stored items or possible health hazards harm your business or put your reputation at risk. When selecting a provider, consider their experience, expertise and commitment to creating and implementing a comprehensive plan on which you can rely.
Frank Meek is a technical services manager for Rollins LLC, the parent company of pest-control provider Orkin. He’s a board-certified entomologist and 30-year industry veteran. For more information, call 855.929.1459.