Commercial Pest Control in Restaurants: How to Handle a Complaint from a Diner

RestaurantRestaurants thrive on their reputation — for good food, good service, and perhaps most importantly, cleanliness. Not much will give a restaurant a bad reputation faster than a sanitation problem, and pests are, as far as the general public is concerned, a big indicator of a problem. Unfortunately, even if you do everything right and follow all sanitation guidelines, there’s no guarantee that a pest will not be able to find their way in occasionally. If a customer happens to see an insect or rodent, how you respond to the complaint may make all the difference in how the incident plays out.

Immediate Response

In many cases, when a customer tells an employee they saw a cockroach (or ant, or mouse, or any other pest), the employee’s first instinct is to play down the incident. The thought process here is to minimize how many people nearby might overhear the conversation or possibly to brush it off in hopes the customer forgets about it. However, in most cases this response just makes it look as if the restaurant doesn’t care about a possible infestation.

The best response to a customer complaint is to take it seriously and empathize with them. The server or manager should apologize, but not assign blame to any specific person or situation. If there is an immediate solution to this customer’s displeasure, such as a replacement or comped meal, that step should be taken immediately. Assure the customer that the problem will be addressed as soon as possible.


Of course, all the damage control in the world will not matter if you don’t address the root of the problem. As soon as a complaint is received (or ideally, before that if an employee notices a pest), you should contact your commercial pest control service provider. They can schedule a visit to assess how deep the problem runs, and can suggest corrective actions to help take care of the pests.

In some cases, this may mean spraying for bugs or setting traps for rodents. However, putting preventative actions in place is also very important, including sealing up any points of ingress, moving dumpsters away from the outer perimeter, and making sure all proper sanitation guidelines are being followed.

If your customer’s complaint led to a report and inspection that impacted your restaurant’s health score, after you have solved the pest problem, you should call to arrange for another inspection so that your score can go back to where it should be.

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