Mice in the church & rats in the petrol station

There's never just one mouseAs part of my induction into the Marketing and Innovation department for Rentokil Initial, I had the chance to break free from the office and spend time meeting technicians and surveyors in Rentokil and seeing what they do.

I strapped on my not-so-attractive steel toe capped boots and kicked things off with Nigel, a Rentokil technician for over twenty years, who showed me life from the technician’s perspective. His patch covers a busy resort town on the south coast, which is of course full of bars, pubs and restaurants and all the food and waste that comes with them. Perfect breeding ground for pests.

We started out by visiting a local bakery. Like most people I’d never seen ‘behind the scenes’ in a place like this and was amazed at how much equipment and storage is needed to keep a small place like that running. There hadn’t been any reports of pest activity, so Nigel completed a general check up and survey of the property. A busy bakery with all the flour and sugar floating about attracts various pests including mice and stored product insects, so Nigel diligently checked all the insect and rodent monitors. Thankfully there were none to be found, but he made sure that the business was ready for the ant season and offered a few words of advice about cleaning schedules and places pests were most likely to hide. He knew a vast amount about environmental health standards and the client clearly appreciated the help.

Another unusual site was the basement of the local leisure complex. We were led down some very steep stairs into a dark, steamy room full of hissing pipes and gauges, responsible for keeping the building and the pool heated. I couldn’t imagine anything wanting to live down there, but apparently it’s the perfect environment for rodent harbourage. I let Nigel lead the way through the dark corridors, hunting for any sign of pest activity. I looked out for the signs he’d told me about – droppings, nibbled boxes or cables, rat ‘smears’ – but to his credit, there was nothing.

We visited all sorts of places during the day, from churches with mice under the floorboards to petrol stations with rats around the forecourt. What I’d failed to realise before is that the majority of a technician’s time is taken up by the maintenance work, not by call outs. Of course, the peak season in the summer time is a different matter, however for most of the year technicians like Nigel concentrate on helping their clients to keep their premises pest free. It’s the most important job of all.

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