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How To Start a Pest Control Business

How To Start a Pest Control Business

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Posted by Brad Smith

October 14, 2019

How To Start a Pest Control Business

As a pest control business owner, you'll be entering a recession-proof market with flexibility, freedom, and high income potential. But even if you know the trade well, running a business might be new to you.

That's why we've put together a comprehensive guide to help you understand how to start a successful pest control business. We'll go through all the basics and guide you through the tools that successful pest control business owners use to streamline their business.

We’ve also included a downloadable checklist of all the steps you’ll need to take to get started!

This guide will also work for wildlife and animal control and lawncare management businesses, related industries.

Pest Control Business Start-Up Costs and Financial Planning

To start your pest control business, you'll need some initial investment to get going.

Steps

  1. Add up your business expenses

  2. Assess your personal expenses not covered by other income or savings

  3. Estimate your initial monthly revenue

  4. Calculate your

    break-even point

  5. Set revenue and profit margin goals

  6. Figure out your

    business credit score

  7. Compare financial options for your startup costs

  8. Write a business plan

What Do You Need to Get Started?

  • Start by figuring out all your startup costs, including licensing and registration fees, your supplies, marketing and branding expenses. 

  • Now consider your personal expenses: does your new business need to cover these as well?

  • What additional income or savings is available?

Adding all of this together will help you know what you need to get started and make informed decisions about what kind of numbers you’ll need to save or borrow to get started.

Pro Tip: Look For Federal or State-level Small Business Grants

There are many ways you can leverage assistance from external organizations and the government. Look to see if your state and local municipalities offer assistance to small businesses. Many offer local grants, tax deductions, and free coaching opportunities.

In addition, certain business owners who qualify as socially or economically challenged can apply for their business to be certified as

women-owned

or

minority-owned

— a status that comes with various benefits. 

Set Revenue Goals Early On

The earlier you set revenue goals and begin to track your financials, the better. They may very well shift over time, but it will get you in the habit of being data-driven and in-tune with your finances.

In an episode of Joshua Latimer’s Quick Talk Podcast, he leads home service businesses through a step-by-step process of setting revenue goals

.  He explains that “by and large, you’re going to hit or miss your goal based on the strategic planning you do in advance.”

Here’s an overview of the steps covered in his podcast:

  • You need to understand your target or goal

  • You need to know your base: “The amount of revenue you think you’re going to do this year without really trying.”

  • From there, you can figure out the gap in between.

  • Set plans to close the gap and start with the low hanging fruit

Don’t Expect the Same Growth Patterns Year After Year

As you begin to see monthly growth patterns, Josh warns new businesses to expect a shift as they get more established: “Brand new businesses, oftentimes with home services, they’ll grow really quickly the first few years, and they get a little bit of swag, but the real reason many of them grow … is just supply and demand in the market that they’re in.”

The Legal Stuff: Pest Control Business Requirements

Pest control is a highly regulated activity with local and federal regulations when it comes to pest control chemicals. Make sure you’ve got all the necessary licenses and certifications covered. You’ll also need to

register your business

on the federal, state and local levels, including registering for a tax ID. You’ll need this ID to open a business banking account and get insured. If you’re not sure how to register, you can work with a

registered agent

.

Steps

  1. Make sure you have all the licenses you need 

  2. Incorporate and register your business 

  3. Apply for a tax ID

  4. Open business bank account

  5. Apply for insurance and bonding

Give Yourself a Few Months

Jake Goodwin, owner of

Bug Masters

,

talked to The Pest Posse

about how he got started. Jake got a loan from the Small Business Administration for some of his startup costs and warns others that it takes at least a couple of months to work through the loan process.

“Also the operators process to get your operator’s license is simple but also takes time … and it takes multiple applications to get your operator’s license, not just one. So anybody out there that is interested in doing this, do not just quit your job and say we’ll have a company up and running in 30 days. It’s not going to quite work like that.”

Selecting Insurance

We recommend investing in more than just general liability insurance. Talk to a pro about customizable insurance programs that include things like pet mortality, worker’s compensation, and auto insurance.

And simply having insurance isn’t the only step to preventing legal issues in the future. Andy McGinty from LIPCA Insurance

explains why

educating customers is so important: “Explaining what can happen in the event of a potential loss, infestation or damage is more important than you might think. Take, for example, two Formosan termite customers. Customer A has been told about possible secondary colonies and swarms down the road; Customer B was not informed in any way. Which customer is going to be easier to deal with should a claim occur?”

Pest Control Franchise Opportunities

Many wannabe business owners find the initial steps to be the most challenging, which is a big reason why they look into franchises. With a franchise, you're starting with an established brand and business model, and you also receive training, marketing material, a national support network, and discounts on equipment.

But before you jump in, you need to consider both the advantages and disadvantages of being a franchisee.

Advantages

  • Higher success rate compared to businesses that start from scratch

  • Proven business model

  • Quick and easy to launch

  • Receive discounts on equipment

  • Can leverage brand image and recognition

  • Existing branding helps with customer acquisition

  • Gain training and support from headquarters

Disadvantages

  • Higher upfront investment fee

  • Potential ongoing royalties

  • Less control and creativity

  • Allocation to a specific geographic territory

  • Difficult to grow and expand

  • Less independence and freedom

If you're considering going down the franchise route, make sure you assess the different franchises available. Talk to existing and previous franchisees to understand what it's like to be a franchisee yourself.

The Technical Stuff: Pest Control Scheduling, Invoicing, Payment & Quickbooks

Administrative tasks can take up a lot of your time. To help you out, we'll give you an overview of all the technical aspects you need to have ready, and which tools can help streamline your everyday activities.

Steps

  1. Set up website and social media profiles

  2. Shop for and invest in tech platforms (see chart)

  3. Create calls-to-action (CTAs) on website and social media profiles

What Tech Platforms Will You Need?

The following diagram can help you understand what happens before, during, and after clients schedule a job, and how you can streamline these business activities with online tools. 

Customer LifecycleTech NeedsWork Order LifecycleOperations
Consumer searches for a service providerSocial media management
Online booking & schedulingNew job is created
Job management and dispatchJob assigned to technician and added to schedule
Customer is notified and reminded of upcoming appointmentEstimate ManagementTech prepares quote
Customer accepts estimateInvoicing & Payment ProcessingJob is completed and payment is taken or invoice is sent, then receipt is sent
Customer paysReview ManagerRequest for review is sent
Customer books another service or signs up for recurring servicesEmail marketingCustomer is sent a follow-up message
Bookkeeping Payroll

Streamline Your Business As Much As Possible

When you're a one-person team, you might not feel the need to streamline your business. There's a good chance that once you understand the business basics you might even be on top of your everyday tasks.

While that may be true, if you're keen to grow your pest control business, you'll need to make sure you have systems and procedures ready. The smallest inefficiencies can quickly snowball into significant problems. 

That's why we recommend pest control business owners begin streamlining their systems from the very start. 

Create standard operating procedures for routine tasks (hiring, training, actual pest control work, etc.) If you need assistance, look to

Housecall Pro

. Its online software can help you automate a lot of your everyday tasks like scheduling online bookings, sending invoices, and email marketing activities.

This way, you can work

on

your business, instead of always working

in

it!

Additional Resources From Our Blog

The Supplies

You likely have most of the professional tools and equipment you need to get started. Below, we've listed the steps and other items (like uniforms) that are useful for every HVAC business.

Steps

  1. Assess and fill

    tool inventory

  2. Rent office front and/or warehouse space (if needed)

  3. Invest in a service van or truck

Comparing Equipment

Especially if you’re just starting out in this industry, you’re about to make a very large investment in equipment that needs to last and do a good job. So how do you know what’s the best brand? 

Ask other experts:

  • The

    Pest Posse YouTube series

    and the

    Pest Geek Podcast

    review products and equipment.

  • Search industry Facebook groups for discussions about supplies and brands. (We’ve listed a bunch of groups to join in the “Where To Go From Here” section of this guide.)

Setting Your Services and Rates

Finding the right price point can be tricky. While your previous experience and industry standards can be a helpful guide, you need to factor into account your overheads and additional expenses you might not have considered as a tech. 

Steps

  1. Create a list of services you’re able or interested in offering

  2. Choose a pricing structure and create a pricing list for all of your services

  3. Create a contract template

  4. Write up a terms and conditions document

How to Price Your Services

You’ve probably already researched your competitors’ rates, which is a good starting point. And if you haven’t, Homeguide.com maintains statistics on

national and regional prices for pest control services

.

But there’s more to keep in mind when pricing your services, such as your costs and revenue goals. Simply put, making data-driven decisions about your prices can help you meet your goals and grow your business.

  • Set one-time services high enough that you can reward customers who sign up for ongoing services while still maintaining a good profit margin.

  • Make sure your prices are high enough to maintain your profit margin on large properties or properties at the far edges of your coverage area, or build in surcharges for jobs out-of-the ordinary. For instance, according to pestcontrolreviews.com, some pest control professionals charge an

    extra $25 for every 1,000 square feet over 1,500

    .

Should You Charge for an Inspection?

While you can charge for a pest control inspection (pest inspections

average

around $100), many pest control companies offer them for free every year. There are, however, conditions attached to the free service. Free inspections tend to be for all current customers or those with regular service agreements. Some businesses, however, use the free inspection as a generous lead magnet to on-sell ongoing pest control packages. 

Focus on Raising the Average Value of Each Customer

Instead of searching for new customers, your goal should be to increase what you earn from your existing customers.

Reward Repeat Customers

Encourage

recurring services

is the best way to boost your average revenue per customer. Even in off-peak seasons, your business can be thriving, and you can expect consistent cash flow with recurring service plans.

If you're keen on adopting recurring service plans, make sure you:

  1. Tailor the plan to the individual client's requirements

  2. Protect you and your customer by guaranteeing the quality of your service 

  3. Outline your clients' financial obligations

Offer Multiple Options

A customer may have called you to take a look at a spider infestation, but when you offer a package deal that covers spiders along with other general pests, you can increase the amount you make off of that one service call.

Better yet, maintain multiple levels of services so that customers can decide which package is right for them.

russel's pest control

Additional Resources From Our Blog

Positioning Yourself in the Market 

Successful businesses build their brand around their ideal customers. We’ll look at how to know who your ideal customer is and how to attract them.

Steps

  1. Outline your target market and ideal customer

  2. Decide if you want to specialize

  3. Update your brand messaging and service offerings accordingly

Who Do You Want to Attract?

A target market is a particular group of people that you’re aiming to attract and your ideal customer is particular segment of that group of people you

most

want to work with. For instance, perhaps you want to work with homeowners in a specific neighborhood or town (your target market), and you specifically want to work with homeowners of a certain income bracket, or homeowners with large properties (your ideal customer).

Choosing a target market and ideal client does not have to mean

only

marketing to or servicing them. Most pest control or wildlife management businesses work with both residential and commercial customers. Similarly, most businesses also offer a variety of services to those customers.

So how does choosing and understanding your target market and ideal customer help you?

When you figure out what group of people is the most likely to grow your business, you can prioritize them in your branding.

 

Do you serve more homeowners than businesses? Is one particular neighborhood more likely to pay higher prices for services? Is bedbug treatment your top selling service? Then you know where to invest your time and money.

Crafting Your Message

  • Highlight the services with the biggest profit margin on your homepage and other marketing materials.

  • Speak directly to the market that brings you the most revenue and target them in promotions.

  • Create specific sections and run special ads for markets you’d like to attract (such commercial services).

Figuring all of this out might take time. Keeping track of as many details as you can about your customers and services will help.

Pest Control Marketing and Advertising

There are so many approaches to marketing your business, how do you choose?  We’ll share with you a few surprising places you can find lifelong customers. 

Steps

  1. Create a marketing plan

  2. Design business cards,

    van wrap

    , and other marketing materials

  3. Sign up for Google My Business

  4. Claim your business on other lead generation platforms

  5. Optimize your website for search engines (SEO)

  6. Join digital and in-person networking groups

Start With the Free Options

On a follow-up episode of

The Pest Posse

, Jake told XX that most of his initial customers came from “friends, networking, and referrals.” He wisely explained that he didn’t want to spend money he wasn’t yet making. In-person networking and word-of-mouth marketing are some of the easiest and cheapest ways to start building out your brand. 

Start with:

1. Chamber of Commerce:

It's a business network like a local organization of businesses. We highly encourage you to network with other small business owners. Many pest control professionals received work by engaging with other service professionals in their area

2. Facebook Groups:

You can network and join Facebook Groups, engage and add value to the groups, and offer promotional discounts for group members.

Make each customer count by asking them to leave a review and/or refer your services. Per one study,

7

0% of customers would leave a review if asked

.

Additional Resources From Our Blog

Hiring: Your Path to Growth

You'll most likely start as a one-person pest control business. Many pest control businesses stay as a one or two-person team. But if you're keen to grow your business, you'll need to hire a few extra pairs of hands.

Steps

  1. Assess the numbers (what can you afford?)

  2. Research the legal requirements (federal, state, and local) of hiring someone

  3. Outline hiring and onboarding processes

  4. Set up functions to handle salary and benefits

  5. Create job listing ad

Keep Quality Employees By Inspiring Them

On his podcast, Pest Geek Pest Control,

Franklin Hernandez recommends

having a vision in order to keep employees inspired and dedicated to growing with the company. “After you have a vision, you’ve got to write it down and make it plain so that anyone who sees that vision can run with it.”

He believes one of the biggest causes of turnover is business stagnation. Employees want to be a part of a business that is going somewhere. “Your vision and your plans have to be so great that they can feel that they’re never going to outgrow that and they’re always going to be challenged.”

Listen to the rest of the episode about

how to develop an employee recruiting and hiring system

.

Additional Resources From Our Blog

Where to Go From Here

Even if you know the industry well, it can take a few years to establish your company, develop best practices, build a reputation, and gain a consistent customer base. Just keep at it, and you can create a successful business that returns six figures.

But you don’t need to do this alone. 

Check out our

local meetups

to network and learn from other service businesses.

Also consider joining other trade organizations:

And these Facebook Groups:

For general business resources, we recommend:

And check out a longer list of

small business associations

.

Download the 'How to Start a Pest Control Business Checklist' now, if you're keen to get started!

How to Start a Pest Control Business Checklist

1. Where Can You Get Help?

  • Have you prepared a list of

    associations

    you can join?

  • Are there local

    small business networking events

    in your area?

  • Do you need to upskill on any

    industry-related training

    ?

2. Pest Control Business Startup Costs 

  • Do you know how to

    calculate overhead costs

    ?

  • Do you know how to calculate your

    Break-Even Point?

  • Do you know how to calculate an

    average transaction value (ATV)?

  • Do you know how to calculate the

    average revenue per client (ARPC)?

  • Have you researched different

    grants online?

  • Do you know what your

    tax benefits and deductions

    are

    ?

  • Have you signed up for a

    free small business mentor

    online

    ?

3. The Legal Stuff

  • Have you registered your business yet? 

  • Have you signed up for pest control insurance?

  • Do you have a business checking account? 

  • Have you written your terms of service? 

  • Have you signed up for a

    pest control license

    ?

  • Are you interested in becoming a

    franchisee

    ?

4. The Technical Stuff

  • Do you know how to keep

    track of sales?

  • Do you have an

    online invoicing software?

  • Do you have an

    email marketing software? 

  • Do you have an online tool that can

    accept credit card payments? 

  • Have you registered for

    Quickbooks online?

  • Have you added an

    online booking option? 

  • Have you considered

    streamlining

    your business early on?

5. Equipment Needed 

  • Have you considered purchasing

    wholesale or used models

    ?

  • Do you have a

    uniform

    for your business yet?

  • Have you purchased a

    service truck or a used van

    ?

6.Positioning Yourself in the Market 

  • Have you selected a

    niche

    or

    specialization

    in your field?

  • Have you explored the pros and cons of

    residential and commercial

    pest control?

  • Will you offer

    guarantees

    to stand out from the competition?

7. Pest Control Pricing 

  • Do you know how to

    set your rates

    ?

  • Will you charge

    per job, per type of service, or offer both

    ?

  • Have you factored into account all the

    costs and potential costs

    associated with a job?

  • Do you know the

    national and regional average price

    for a pest control job (within your niche)?

  • Do you know how to calculate your

    net earnings

    ?

8. Your Offerings: Pest Control Services List

  • Have you put together

    pest control packages

    ?

  • Do you know

    what is in each package

    ?

  • Can you create

    recurring service plans

    ?

9. How to Get Leads: Pest Control Marketing Services 

  • Have you made a plan to

    prioritize reviews and referrals

    ?

  • Have you joined a

    business network

    ?

  • Have you joined online

    Facebook Groups

    ?

  • Have you come up with several ways to

    retain customers

    ?

10. Your Path to Growth: Hiring

  • Do you know when to

    hire

    ?

  • Do you have all your

    company processes

    in order?

  • Have you

    made a plan to train and manage

    people?

Download the 'How to Start an Electrical Business Checklist' now, if you're keen to get started!

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