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InsightsPest Control ServicesHow to Better Align Your Pest Control Program With Your Food Safety Goals

How to Better Align Your Pest Control Program With Your Food Safety Goals

Keith RobinsonJune 10, 2022Read time: 8 min

Pest Control Food Safety

In the past, we've covered topics like cost reduction and optimization ideas related to your pest control spend; this time, we'll offer a few tips on another frequently asked question around pest control expense management:

"More competitive pricing is desirable, but in a category like pest control, my preeminent concerns are ensuring our organization receives the optimal level of service from our provider and our existing program is improved—how can I address those?"

Many clients asking this question are often in a food-related industry where the term “continuous improvement” is at the center of their decision-making process. These clients understand that if a supplier does not share the same goals, it can create weaknesses in their food safety system.

Third-party audit schemes recognized the same and responded with a provision in their standard of an annual assessment or review to address just this issue. The intent of the assessment provision is to review all relevant documents made available from the supplier and adjust the existing program so that it better aligns with the site’s food safety goals.

Therefore, it makes sense that the annual assessment is the perfect place to identify improvement opportunities.

Using the Annual Assessment to Identify Opportunities for Improvement

We've seen two different approaches to the annual assessment:

Approach #1: The supplier simply uses the time as an opportunity to conduct a pre-audit inspection to ensure compliance with the audit standard. In this approach, all the documents are reviewed, updated, and placed in the logbook, but there is no meeting to discuss the prior year’s performance or strategies for improvement.

This is the least beneficial method.

Approach #2: A suitable amount of time is set aside and everyone on the customer’s team who shares some type of responsibility in the prerequisite program is included. This would likely include team members from QA, Operations, Purchasing, Sanitation, and Maintenance—to name a few. Additionally, an invitation is extended to the supplier’s team, including Operations, QA, Entomologists, and, hopefully, the customer’s specific service technician(s).

This is the best approach and the one that will deliver the desired results.

Though the second approach may sound like a lot of time and resources to dedicate, remember that this is a once-a-year event focused on better aligning your supplier’s program with your food safety goals.

Key Elements to Consider:
  • Provide significant notice of the meeting. This will ensure that all pertinent individuals have time to work it into their schedule. The more who attend, the more likely meaningful discussions around specific topics are had, better solutions are identified, and necessary buy-in to facilitate change is obtained. Making sure you give your supplier ample time to collect and review all records in advance will certainly streamline and guide the discussion.
  • Include these documents in the review:
    • Twelve months of trend data: Since pest control has some seasonal elements to it, twelve months of trending data will provide you with the best picture of the prior year's performance. This will allow you to have conversations on how to anticipate those seasonal spikes and adjust your program accordingly.
    • Sampling of service tickets: Including a three- to six-month sample of the actual service tickets allows you to see the service through the eyes of the supplier's service technician. These records hold a wealth of knowledge like the average time spent servicing, a list of devices serviced, pest activity, and most importantly, the technician's actual notes. Matched with the trending data, these sample service tickets will fill in the gaps and may answer many of the questions identified from the trending data.
    • Device map: The majority of audit specifications have some type of provision requiring the device maps to be kept current, and as a result, updating the device maps is usually part of most suppliers' annual assessments. Your review may reveal either a need to adjust your device placement slightly to better address the pest activity, or if no activity is noted in a suitable amount of time, it may be an excellent time to eliminate those unnecessary devices and dedicate the time to other areas of the facility that may pose a greater pest risk.
    • Scope of work: With all the stakeholders present for the annual review, this is a perfect time to dust off the old scope of work and make sure it still fits your needs. There’s a good chance the current scope of work has been in place for years with few updates; now is the time to challenge each service item and question the frequency levels based on the data provided.
      • Target pests update: The scope of work typically includes covered pests that may be unique to the region where your facility is located, or pests that pose a higher risk to certain products. By reviewing the trending data and sampling the service tickets, you can ensure that the scope identifies all pests that pose a threat to your facility.
  • Review findings and recommendations. During regular service, in addition to checking control devices, pest control service suppliers record findings and offer recommendations to prevent future pest problems; these are often items like sealing holes and involving internal staff members to help clean certain areas. The annual review is a perfect opportunity to take stock of all unresolved recommendations, assign who is responsible for addressing them, and establish an expected resolution timeline for each.
  • Share any corporate initiatives. This is an excellent time to share with your supplier any corporate initiatives that may be going on. For instance, if your organization has a sustainability goal or specific green initiative, your supplier may be able to help. There could be ways to make adjustments to the program that could offer credits toward that goal.
  • Hold a question/answer session. If you want to shock your current supplier and identify other opportunities to improve upon your existing program, consider asking the following questions:
    • Are there other things we can do (or consider) that could help reduce pest pressure?
      • Any exterior landscaping ideas we should consider?
      • What about the exterior lighting scheme
      • Any suggestions on trash bin locations?
    •  Are there any roadblocks or facility challenges that may be hindering the service technicians' ability to provide the best service?
    • As far as scheduling, does the current day and time fit best in the technician's schedule?
    • How’s the billing? Are you receiving payment in a timely manner?

These are topics on your service providers’ minds, but they are reluctant to them bring up. By asking them yourself, it gives them the freedom to share with you what could be impacting their service quality, and it lets them know that you view the relationship as a partnership.

The question-and-answer session is likely to surprise you and may yield the most significant opportunities for improvement. It will certainly strengthen and better align your relationship with the supplier.

For more tips on improving your program, check out our content library or feel free to reach out to us directly; we’d love to help.

Keith Robinson Headshot

Keith Robinson

Vice President of Pest Control Services

Keith joined Fine Tune in 2019 after spending nearly 30 years in the pest control industry. Previously, Keith worked 17 years at Terminix and built and sold his own PC company. Most recently, Keith served as VP of operations, training, quality assurance and food safety at ABC Home & Commercial Services. In that role, Keith led all commercial pest management operations in north Texas, east Texas and Oklahoma. A Board Certified Entomologist, he developed and rolled out food safety programs for national chain accounts across the United States. Today, Keith oversees Fine Tune’s pest control services offering nationwide.

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