Can Your Business Survive a Pest Infestation?
Pest control is a serious matter for all commercial operations. Pest infestations can have a truly devastating impact on businesses in all industries, causing long-term harm to brand reputation, loss of revenue, legal implications and in severe cases, can even lead to closure.
Many businesses around the world have fallen foul to inadequate pest control measures, resulting in multiple problems. For example, a sandwich manufacturer in North Yorkshire was forced to close part of its factory for three days in February this year, following a rat infestation. Local authorities ordered the firm to cease operations in part of the factory during an inspection of the premises. The Director of Leisure and Environment at the local District Council said that the presence of pests posed serious risks to the safety of the food being produced and as such, were authorised to take action – in this case, by stopping the business from trading until officers were satisfied there was no longer a risk to public health.
Elsewhere, a London-based bakery was forced to close last year after health inspectors found cockroaches and pigeons in its storeroom. In Leicester, health inspectors ordered diners to stop eating and leave a restaurant immediately after discovering cockroaches – both dead and alive – in the kitchen. And in Gloucester, also last year, a pub restaurant had no choice but to shut its kitchen for several days after maggots were found in a bin area close to – but not actually part of or belonging to – the pub.
And it’s not just food businesses that are at risk from disruption because of pests. In June this year, for example, a hotel in Texas was forced to shut its doors due to a bed bug infestation. Back in the UK, flea, cockroach, bed bug and rodent infestations have been reported by a growing number of hospital trusts over the past few years, according to the Independent.
Problems that a Pest Infestation Can Cause for Your Business
Aside from the threat of temporary or even permanent closure, pest infestations can cause additional and ongoing problems for businesses if adequate pest control measures are not taken.
If you’re a business owner, it is in your absolute interest to ensure that you keep pests of all nature – rodents, birds and insects – out of your premises. Let’s consider some of the issues a pest infestation can cause.
One of the most pressing dangers posed to your business by pest infestations is damage to your reputation. Any business that suffers from a publicised pest control issue can very quickly find their standing in the community tarnished and will subsequently find it very difficult to restore.
In the age of social media, this threat is greater than ever. News spreads fast on the likes of Facebook and Twitter and TripAdvisor reviews can last a long, long time. If a customer spots, say, a mouse or a rat in or around your outlet, they will not hesitate in making a complaint, will likely never return again and will no doubt tell their friends and family all about it while making themselves heard online. They may even report you to the local authorities, which could trigger an investigation and, if it’s found that you do indeed have a pest control issue, your problems will quickly escalate and it may not be long before the infestation is making local newspaper headlines.
Even if you subsequently manage to get the situation under control, the damage to your reputation can be extremely hard to recover from. Businesses often live and die by word of mouth and any news of a pest infestation – be it rodents, birds, or insects – can soon lead to fewer customers walking through your front door.
As with so many things in life, prevention is better than cure, which is why you should be employing the services of a professional pest control company to ensure your premises are free from pests and that your business’s reputation remains intact.
Of course, customers don’t necessarily need to directly sight a rodent, bird, or insect scurrying or fluttering around your premises for problems to arise. Nearly all pest species are carriers of a number of different bacteria and diseases, which can lead to serious health problems should anyone, for instance, consume some contaminated food, or otherwise come into contact with a contaminated surface or other material.
Urine and droppings from rodents, birds and cockroaches all present health risks, some of which – such as salmonella and hantavirus – can be very serious indeed. In addition, bird droppings can not only be unsightly and leave an awful, lingering smell, but can also cause a slipping hazard for customers and pedestrians.
If any of your customers slip or become ill as a result of coming into contact with contaminated food or other materials, you may be looking at a compensation claim made against your company, followed by an environmental health investigation and will then have to deal with the reputational damage that will inevitably result.
Such incidents can be almost impossible to recover from, so it’s imperative that you have expert pest control measures in place to ensure you never find yourself in this type of situation.
Damage to Property and Merchandise
Pests, of course, are wild animals and wild animals make a living from scrounging and scavenging whatever food and materials they can find.
Rodents live to chew through things. This is because their incisor teeth continue to grow throughout their lifespans – about five inches a year – and need to be worn down by gnawing. As such, both rats and mice will gnaw at wood, concrete, metals and even electrical wiring, which of course comes with its own risk of fire. They will also gnaw at any stock you have lying around and will eat, damage and/or contaminate food if they can get to it.
Birds, too, cause their own set of problems. Their nests will often clog-up gutters, drains and downspouts, resulting in flooding risks. And the nests themselves are usually made of dried plant materials – such as grass, straw and weeds – as well as feathers, creating fire hazards, especially when located near electrical equipment such as light fixtures or power lines.
Nesting birds can also cause damage to roofs, which can lead to further health and safety hazards – particularly if the nests are located under roof tiles, which can then become dislodged and could come crashing down onto whatever or whoever is on the ground beneath.
Safeguard Pest Control
Left unprotected, there is no guarantee that your business will be able to survive a pest infestation. As such, the only solution is to get in touch with the pest control experts.