Of all the commercial jobs a pest control professional faces apartments have got to be one of the toughest. This is pretty remarkable when you think of it. Even the smallest mom and pop companies do service for high tech accounts such as flour mills with tight restrictions, elder care facilities, restaurants and other high maintenance jobs. Large companies do all of these but also tend to get such bids as hospitals, factories, stadiums and even whole countries. What all companies get regardless of size is apartments; This common client can be the source of the worst frustration for any route and where the fruits of your labor are seldom rewarded.
The major pest of apartment living is of course the german roach but mice, fleas and bed bugs can be quite maddening as well. These pests have the ability to literally go house to house with relative ease through the thin walls or shared plumbing and wiring. Not the case for fleas obviously but since the pets have to share the same common areas for relieving themselves it’s a simple hop or two for a flea to find a new home. When the 3rd Tuesday comes around and the bug man sprays your bldg. these same travel routes become the perfect safe haven for the insects. What most tenants experience is dead bugs for a few days but within a week usually they are right back as strong as ever.
In a perfect world
If apartment service wasn’t almost always a ‘low bid’ contract or at least planned out in such a way to schedule for optimum service, your technician would take the time to dust and appropriately treat every crack or crevice they could find. The refrigerator could be pulled out, back dark corners of the cabinets baited and communication which is probably most important could be exchanged so that sanitation or other concerns would be addressed. Also steps to seal the bugs out might be a little more realistically expected. Steel wool around plumbing pipes, caulking where needed and maybe some tighter screens. These are all things that we as an industry have promoted and even gave it a name. IPM (integrated pest management) involves homeowners in this process when either they provide the work to be done or pay the pest company to do it. With apartment complexes these tasks usually fall on the maintenance crew who might not be so interested in your pest management program and almost always have far more to deal with then caulking your cable wire entry hole.
The truth is that your bug man might have 50 to 60 units on his list that day with 5 or 6 complaint calls. If they were to spend even 6 minutes in each unit not allowing for any time in between that would take them 6 hours to complete. Now add in the time for the ‘trouble calls’ and you’re easily up to 7 plus. Now I don’t know about your company or how much you know if you’re not in pest control but it’s hard to maintain a route or pay the bills spending so much time on such a notoriously low paying stop. You may live in a smaller complex and think this shouldn’t be such an issue but it still is because the smaller job means the office can put more regular stops on your techs route. Or God forbid, another apartment complex.
Ok so there are some inherent problems with pest control in apartment situations but thankfully there are things that can be done to keep you as pest free as possible.
* Number one I would say is to be nice. We’re all human and the overwhelming majority of people respond to kindness rather than harsh attitudes and words. What I know for a fact is that maintenance men have their favorite tenants that they will drop what they are doing to go and help. The rest of you usually are told to call the office and get a work order first. This goes a long way when you need some sealing up or a new door sweep to keep the earwigs out. The same is true for your pest professional. I have some of the sweetest people in apartments that I’ll go above and beyond for almost anytime, it’s just the way it is.
*Second, you can and should do some of the pest prevention work yourself. After all you see where the bugs go in and out so caulking that teeny crack in the shower wall will never get done faster than if you do it yourself. Doing your part by cleaning and keeping up the sanitation levels is also of great importance and I doubt the maintenance or bug man will help you there.
*Finally and this may not be the most desirable to you but pay the tech to give you the extra service that you need. Now I’m not saying on the sly because that’s not fair to the owner of the bug company who isn’t banking his retirement plans on this account. What you can do however is arrange with the company to either pay a small monthly amount for your unit to be done as if it were a separate home or consider paying a little more to have what most companies call a ‘clean out.’ The clean out service is something you can do once per year or more and the tech would do all those things described above that are desperately needed for best results in apartments.
I realize that paying for pest control or sealing up your own pipes may not be something you feel should be your responsibility but think of the alternative. You can just call out the maintenance man and yell at your technician and they’ll eventually come out and do just enough to get by and keep you quiet. There’s a definition for what happens in apartment pest control and whether it’s the management, bug guy or tenant that needs to heed I’ll let you decide; but I do know if you want a bug free unit something has got to give.
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.