A reader writes: “We are being ‘dinged’ by our property manager for restroom odors each morning and the presence of fruit flies and other bugs. Our argument is that the building is old and that we are not pest management. Any insights would be appreciated.”

Be thankful that I am not bidding on this contract since I could probably take it away from you without even giving out a number. I would simply ask the property manager, “If I can take care of the odor and fruit flies, will you give me the contract?” If he/she agrees, then you are out the door and I assume your same terms, price and conditions with an odor free and fruit fly free building. In fact, over the years, I can remember at least three contracts I acquired simply by solving this one problem for the customer and their tenants.

I suggest you conduct a test of one or two restrooms. First of all, make sure the test restrooms were serviced to your satisfaction the night before. Be sure that the lights are off and doors closed when you leave. Arrive early the next morning before anyone has had time to use the facilities. Open the door and take a deep breath. What do you smell? If it has a rotten or sewer gas odor then we are on the right track. Then enter the restroom looking for fruit flies or other tiny vermin that should not be there. They will usually be along the walls or possibly flying around looking for a mate. Regardless of whether you see any or not, pour one to two small buckets (up to 1 gallon) of water down the floor drain (and if there is a seldom used shower or slop sink) so that the “P trap” is effectively blocking the drain. In most cases, problem solved. Add this task to your cleaning schedule often enough to keep these drains working.

Remember that we are there to solve problems and satisfy the customer so long as it is in the contract specifications. Your comments and questions are important. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean...

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or CTCG50@comcast.net.