A little extra effort goes a long way to keep pests at bay. Give your employees these "tips" and they may see better tips of a different kind.

The necessity of pest management in a foodservice environment isn’t news to you. But pests in your restaurant can certainly be in the news and put a dent in your restaurant’s reputation. In addition, pest sightings are likely to be included in social media complaints and online reviews, impacting brand reputation on the web, too. According to the National Restaurant Association, 53 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds report that online reviews factor into their dining decisions. That means for every review your establishment gets, it could have a lasting impact on every one out of two diners in one of your key demographics.

With so much at stake, you need your entire team to support healthy operations—including pest management. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a proactive approach that focuses on reducing conducive conditions in an ongoing cycle of assessing the issues, implementing corrective actions, and monitoring for improvements. In order to take this approach, it’s imperative that you train your employees to partner in your pest management program. Here are some tips on how to focus employees on their role in the crucial components of a successful IPM program.

Be Timely

In the fast-paced restaurant environment, time is of the essence in just about every aspect of your operations. It’s no different with your pest management program. Timely attention on certain activities will help reduce pest pressure and presence.

  • Clean up spills: The same delicacies that attract guests can attract pests, especially when spills occur. Train your employees to quickly clean up liquid and food debris from the floor. Otherwise, they can create sticky residues and odors that bring pests to the table.

  • Remove trash: Food waste that goes into the garbage is still palatable to pests. Don’t allow refuse to pile up and produce odors that pests find alluring. When trash leaves the building, make sure it goes all the way inside a lidded dumpster—instead of collecting outside the back door.

  • Report pest sightings: Diners have zero tolerance for visible pest presence in food establishments. Express to your employees the urgency of reporting pests immediately, especially in the dining area, in order to remediate a problem before it becomes an infestation affecting your bottom line.


No matter how dedicated your pest management provider is, your employees are the essential eyes and ears of your pest management program. Teach them to inspect in key areas to prevent pests from finding a backdoor entrance through your supply chain or harborage in hot spots.

  • Examine incoming shipments: Cardboard boxes are a refuge for cockroaches. Inspect incoming products thoroughly. Look for webbing, holes in packages, live or dead insects, dust particles, and damaged product.

  • Focus on “hot spots:” Areas that draw pests offer food, water, and shelter, which is why they are called “hot spots.” They can include storage areas, waste receptacles, drains, and places where food debris and moisture collect, such as underneath, behind, and on top of equipment—especially in the bar area. Be vigilant about keeping these areas clean and ask employees to be aware of any signs of pest presence.

Be Proactive

The best way to keep pests from taking hold is to get ahead of them. Proactive measures to eliminate entry points and attractants help reduce conducive conditions and the need for chemical remediation.

  • Assign roles: Just like you give team members roles in the kitchen to make sure each task is covered, you can do the same with your pest management program. Give employees an area of responsibility that corresponds with their job functions to make pest management part of their duties.

  • Close the door: It’s common sense, but it doesn’t hurt to remind employees to be mindful of keeping doors closed so that pests aren’t able to walk right in.

  • Use a FIFO system: By implementing a “first in first out” protocol, you decrease the amount of time product sits in storage. This proactive best practice helps deny pests the opportunity to take hold.

Sanitation is Key

Keeping your restaurant clean is at the heart of food safety and guest experience. It also helps lessen pest pressure. Take extra steps to make sure the dining room and kitchen are too clean for pests to dine.

  • Deeper clean on the dining room: At the end of the day, thoroughly wipe down all tables and chairs, and remove any residue of the dining hours.

  • Keep equipment clean: Make sure to thoroughly clean any cooking appliances, and don’t forget to check the areas underneath where grease, condensation, and food debris can collect.

  • Sweep, mop, and vacuum floors: Use a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter to remove dust and debris from small cracks and crevices where cockroaches hide. This pest isn’t picky about meals and can even feed on dust.

  • Sanitize dumpsters: Consider using an organic cleaning solution to sanitize your dumpsters and work with your waste management company to rotate the dumpsters on a regular basis. Don’t forget to look underneath the dumpsters for any leakage that may collect and attract pests.

Your overall operation depends on each of your employees executing his or her role with precision. Each member of the team is expected to deliver so that the mechanics of food preparation and service function smoothly. Help employees understand how their particular role can also support your pest management program, from the front of house to the loading dock. With a pest-free dining experience to offer, everyone’s tips will go up.

The opinions of contributors are their own. Publication of their writing does not imply endorsement by FSR magazine or Journalistic Inc.

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