Feature articles

22 August 2019

Selling your pest management services using the law

Business feature| PPC96 August 2019

Paul Westgate, Managing Director of Sussex-based Westgate Pest Control and industry trainer with BPCA, has worked in urban pest management for nearly 20 years.

Paul examines the positives that can be drawn from the rules and regulations pest management professionals face.

SPEED VIEW

  • We have codes of practice which, if followed, help deliver a professional and safe service
  • Customers purchase professional pest management services to avoid breaking rules
  • Knowledge of legislation can be an important tool when communicating directly with clients
  • Health and safety legislation is in place to protect people at work and there are many situations where a pest could create an unsafe workplace.

taking the law into your own hands pest management bpca

At first glance, there appear to be many rules and regulations which ‘get in the way’ of a successful pest management programme.

Rules that influence which products can be used, how they can be used and even what paperwork is needed to demonstrate we have followed the rules and a diligent approach.

It’s no wonder many of us are sometimes left overwhelmed and frustrated.

But what if we looked at things from a different angle and take a ‘glass half-full’ approach to these rules and regulations?

An approach that means we utilise these rules to help us; not only to deliver safer, more effective pest control, but also provide a more valuable and profitable solution.

Where do the rules come from?

The rules we face take many forms.

The legal system provides us with Acts of Parliament with their associated Regulations and Orders. Failure to follow these could lead us down a very dangerous and costly path.

Thankfully, approved codes of practices exist to help keep us on the right path.

Our industry, through the BPCA, PMA and other bodies including CRRU, has provided codes of practice which, although not legally binding, can help deliver a professional and safe service.

An additional set of ‘rules’ come from our customers; most commonly in the food manufacturing sector where standards from a wide range of organisations including large retailers, The British Retail Consortium (BRC), and The Soil Association.

Break these ‘rules’ and the penalties will come directly from our customers with lost business and a potentially tarnished reputation.

Buying behaviour

As pest management professionals, we need to understand the reason our customers purchase professional pest management services.

It’s not simply to protect themselves or their business from the pest itself but also to avoid the consequences of contravening one of many regulations.

Consider the food business, with feral pigeons nesting on the roof, trying to navigate the complex and (now) ever-changing bird general licencing system.

Couple this with difficulties in accurate bird identification, and it seems like a sensible option to employ a pest controller.

In this case, the removal of the pigeons may not be difficult in itself but doing so in a legally compliant manner is, of course, something more challenging and something which would be expected from a professional.

It is this ‘package’ the customer is purchasing: our knowledge.

A sound knowledge of legislation can be an important tool when communicating directly with clients

Recent changes to the general licences have caused a wave of frustration throughout our industry.

The rapid introduction of changes to the general licences and resultant confusion has been an unwelcome addition to our seasonal high workload within the bird control sector. But once the dust has settled opportunity will develop.

Many customers that have undertaken their own bird control may see the changes as another reason to bring in specialist contractors: to ensure all works are conducted in a legal manner, with the specialist pest control company managing the perceived risk.

A sound knowledge of legislation can be an important tool when communicating directly with clients and, in particular, those who may challenge us when working in vertebrate pest management.

On occasions demonstrating our knowledge on animal welfare legislation (notably the Animal Welfare Act, Wild Mammals Protection Act, Pest Act, Spring Traps Approval Order and Wildlife and Countryside Act) can reassure clients of both our professionalism and compliance with animal welfare standards.

This enhances our reputation and secures future works.

Much of a pest controller’s work is carried out in the food and retail trades where many pieces of legislation, including EC Regulation 852 /2004, 178/2002, Food Hygiene regulations, and the Food Safety Act, all need to be considered. By understanding these pieces of legislation we can:

  • Support our customers to be compliant
  • Help to design their premises to be easy to clean
  • Conduct proofing to deny pest access
  • Educate the business owner and staff to ensure pest-free conditions are met.

These are all essential components to a good IPM program, but also all opportunities to supply additional services and generate additional revenue from which both parties benefit.

More than bureaucracy - health and safety legislation

Whatever sector we work in, health and safety legislation is in place to protect people at work and all those affected by their actions.

There are many situations where the presence of a pest could create an unsafe workplace.

One such example can be observed during the late summer wasp season, around outside eating areas such as pub beer gardens.

Sugary drinks, beer and half-eaten plates of food present an attraction for sweet-feeding, swarming wasps. Not only does this drive patrons away from eating at a table but it can present a risk to waiting staff trying to remove the attraction.

As an industry, we are very good at protecting the kitchen area from the risks associated with insect and rodent pests. But do we support our customers enough to reduce the risk of wasps to their patrons and their business?

Many establishments have no proactive wasp control in place, something which could help reduce wasp activity and the associated risks. Maybe this is something that we pest professionals could be doing more to support our customers with?

Working within the food and allied industries brings additional ‘rules’ to which a pest management company must adhere to.

Third party auditing specifications from BRC, Soil Association and those directly from the major retailers are prescriptive and can seem problematic but once an understanding is achieved these can lead to additional works.

A recent example in new BRC Food Safety Version 8 clause 4.14.7 states that “The site shall have adequate measures in place to prevent birds from entering buildings or roosting above loading or unloading areas”.

This clause may open up opportunities, either in the short or long term, for bird proofing works for canopied areas.

It is easy to fall into the trap of being daunted by the requirements placed upon our industry.

With consideration and thought, opportunities can be developed through these increased regulations.

As things become more challenging, more opportunities are created for those that are prepared to meet the challenges and develop solutions which continue to meet the needs not only of our clients but also the rule makers.

Brush up on your legislation knowledge

The BPCA Member Area has a page full of legislation relating to all manner of pest-related work.

Brush up on your legislation knowledge and make sure you log the points as CPD if you’re on BPCA Registered.

Source: PPC96

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