By Jim Fredericks and Cindy Mannes
Owners of self-storage facilities work hard to maintain high business standards and ensure customers’ possessions are protected from theft, damage and exposure to the elements. Some of the safeguards put in place, including pest-control services, are an ongoing expense to maintain clean and safe conditions.
As owners scrutinize their budget and operation costs, some may wonder whether they should invest in professional pest-control services or attempt a do-it-yourself approach. While it may be tempting to handle things on your own, pest control should always be left to professionals trained and licensed in the industry for a number of reasons. These include the size and number of structures that may be present on a property, the many types of pest infestations, and a need for long-term peace of mind when it comes to protecting a facility’s reputation.
Keeping Units Pest-Free
Self-storage facilities are especially conducive to pest infestations, as units tend to be left unopened for long periods of time. This allows pests that have been brought in or entered units from the outside to create nesting grounds and go undisturbed. Once a pest finds its way into one storage unit, it needs only a tiny entry point to get into and infest others.
As operators usually have little control over what’s being stored, it’s important for you to be aware of certain items that are attractive to pests, such as food, live plants, and even bags or boxes of paper items. A qualified pest professional will help outline the types of items that attract pests so you can be aware when interviewing customers about the belongings they plan to store. A professional can also point out vulnerabilities in structures as well as potential nesting and harborage spots.
Regardless of how they find their way in, once inside the unit, pests such as rodents can multiply quickly and cause damage by gnawing and defecating on belongings. Other pests, such as bed bugs, can be unknowingly brought home by the unit’s owner, thus creating an infestation in his residence. These and other pest-related scenarios can have a negative impact on the facility and the reputation of the self-storage company as a whole.
Why Use a Professional?
Finding ways to prevent and eliminate pest problems can weigh heavily on self-storage operators, including those who are unsure if they need a professional provider or how to select a qualified one. Pest professionals are specially trained in the science of pests as well as which treatments work best for each species and type. They also understand the application of treatment methods based on the type of facility and conditions present.
Pest management is not a one-size-fits-all service. A rodent invasion isn’t treated in the same manner as an ant, bed bug, cockroach or termite problem. Plus, there are more variances in treatment methods when broken down further by pest species. Each infestation has a different set of challenges, and pest professionals are equipped with the right knowledge and tools to solve those problems.
Further, the understanding of pest biology, habits and the effects of certain pests upon human health and property also distinguish professional expertise from internal oversight. By employing a pest-control company, operators gain a trusted partner to help prevent problems and eliminate any that arise in a timely manner. This helps ensure customers’ possessions remain intact and pest-free.
Choosing a Partner
Selecting a pest professional doesn’t need to be a daunting task. By employing a few helpful tips and exercising sound judgment, you can be assured you’re partnering with the right pro. Your pest-control company should be able to assist in eliminating infestations as well as reduce pest problems and maintain your property. The following three recommendations will assist you in choosing:
Evaluate pest-control companies that are members of national, state or local pest-management associations. Look for companies that actively participate in their national, state or local association, as those memberships speak to their commitment to protecting public health and property. These companies tend to have a desire to receive ongoing education about new technologies and treatment techniques. Professional memberships typically mean these companies will also strictly adhere to state and federal regulations.
Research companies and ask for recommendations. Word-of-mouth referrals tend to be some of the best sources, whether in residential or commercial environments. Inquire about companies from other storage operators who may face similar challenges. When meeting a prospective pest professional, always ask questions about their pest-control practices and other clients they serve in the industry as well as request references.
While it may be tempting to choose a company based on cost alone, it’s imperative to evaluate several companies, their services, guarantees and references. Those factors often serve as a better evaluation of the quality of service and long-term satisfaction you’ll receive.
Understand service agreements. Once you choose your pest-control partner, carefully read the terms of the contract to fully understand what pests and services are covered. Also understand any guarantees that may be given before finalizing the agreement.
Operation and maintenance of self-storage facilities comes with a number of responsibilities, but pest control isn’t a do-it-yourself duty. Don’t doubt the value of partnering with a qualified pest-control firm. While professionals develop and implement a comprehensive prevention and treatment plan, you’re free to concentrate on the other important aspects of operating a successful business.
Dr. Jim Fredericks is chief entomologist and vice president of technical and regulatory affairs, and Cindy Mannes is the vice president of public affairs, for the National Pest Management Association, a nonprofit with more than 7,000 members. It was established in 1933 to support the pest-management industry's commitment to the protection of public health, food and property. For more information, visit www.pestworld.org.