The inspection is an important part of any integrated pest management program. When done properly, it provides the foundation for the control measures that will be implemented at a home or facility. The inspection not only helps to identify any pests that may currently exist within a structure, but also identify those conditions that may lead to a future pest infestation. The inspection can also help to improve the lines of communication, creating a partnership between the service professional and the customer. However, when an inspection is shortened, especially during the heat of the summer or during the height of the pest season, the impact to a customer or on the service can be devastating. So what can a service professional do to ensure that the customer receives a quality inspection every time?
Always come prepared! While a working flashlight is an important tool to have, it is never the only tool. Critical items often are missed during an inspection when the service professional is ill-equipped to conduct the inspection. The inspection tool kit should contain all those items commonly used to gain access to areas that pose a potential risk for a pest infestation. Tools, such as a screwdriver, spatula, and probe, are necessary to gain access to areas where debris and small insects may collect, such as behind electrical outlets, switchplates, and beneath the legs of shelving and equipment. The use of an inspection mirror can be helpful in allowing a visual inspection of areas hard to reach, especially beneath or behind appliances and equipment. Personal protective equipment should also be a part of the inspection toolkit, as they protect the user from many unforeseen hazards that a service professional may contact during the inspection.
It is commonplace to focus all the attention on the pests that are most visible at the time of the inspection. However, identifying those conditions that may lead to a potential infestation also is critical in preventing any current and future infestations. It may be as simple as locating the source of food for an ongoing cockroach infestation, or as difficult as identifying a pallet in the middle of a warehouse with a mouse nest that is contributing to a rodent infestation. Whatever the case, identifying these conditions early can help to reduce the potential for an infestation later, thus reducing the need for additional control measures and service time.
Monitor Beyond Devices.
The placement of monitoring devices in a home or facility is vital to the success of a control program. However, they are not a substitute for a thorough visual inspection away from the devices. The same is true of monitors and glueboards placed in the traps around commercial facilities. Information collected from these monitors only provides a small snapshot into what is happening within the entire home or facility. Inspecting beyond these devices, or beyond the traps, provides a wider view of the pest situation.
Identify Pest Trends.
Each account is unique and it is important to identify those pest trends unique to your customer. Using information found during previous inspections and services, current pest activity, or information based on the seasonality of specific pests, a service professional can identify the most vulnerable areas of a home or facility and implement a program that more effectively reduces both current and future pest problems.
Document Your Findings.
Lastly, it is important to provide the customer with written documentation of all that was found during the inspection. The inspection report provides the customer with a blueprint for their home or facility detailing what was found, what needs to be done, and what can be expected. This documentation is more than just a report of your findings — it’s proof to your customer that you were actively working to protect their home or facility. It helps create a partnership between the service professional and the client and constantly reinforces the trust that the client has in your company.
The author is Rollins’ technical services director. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.