Considering the pest control business is currently valued at a staggering $16.9 billion, starting a pest control business certainly has the potential to ensure a healthy income.
But like any other business, you have to consider several factors to put your company on the fast track to success.
Below, I’ll give you a step-by-step rundown—right from determining the kind of services to provide to building your brand to registering your business—of how to start a pest control business, sans the stress.
The Easy Parts of Starting a Pest Control Business
The obvious benefits of starting a pest control business are being your own boss and having a flexible schedule.
You can start small, control all aspects of the business, and put in as much time as you would like. You also have a unique ability to control how little or how much you want to work, which gives you the freedom to decide which projects you want to take on.
Moreover, the cost to start a pest control business is about $10,000, which is significantly lower than other businesses.
Registering and maintaining your business is also easier. You can hire a business formation service to sort out and file the required paperwork, secure an EIN, among other necessary tasks. This will allow you to focus on the more important aspects of running and growing your business.
LegalNature, for one, is an excellent online legal service that manages business formation documents in addition to a host of other services, such as EIN, articles of amendment, and registered agent services.
Next, you can use accounting software like Quickbooks to track your daily expenses and send and receive invoices. Again, this will free up your precious time, as well as streamline your finances and maintain cordial relations with your employees.
The Difficult Parts of Starting a Pest Control Business
The pest control industry is highly competitive. People can see the scope and pros, and they all want a piece of the pie.
You need to identify and establish your USP over your competitors. But to do so, you have to be really thorough in analyzing the market and understanding where the demand lies. Mistakes will cost you dearly, and you may not end up with enough clients–right away or at all.
Then there’s also the longer sales process and inconsistent workload.
Hiring a pest control company is a significant time and money investment for the customer. This makes them more cautious when choosing companies. To ensure they hire you, you have to plan and predict a longer conversion funnel and nurture a good relationship with potential customers.
Additionally, be prepared for the inconsistent workload and how it’ll make your income less stable. You should send boundaries and budget accordingly based on the amount of work you plan to have.
Step 1: Narrow Down Your Pest Control Services
The pest control business is surprisingly comprehensive. You can provide a long list of pest control services and products to your target market, but the main question is: which services would you choose?
Determine Which Pest Control Services to Provide
You have to narrow down your focus to become a recognizable expert in one area.
Here’s a list of pest control services you can consider:
- Residential, commercial—maybe both.
- One-time services
- Longer-term contracts
- Trapping “varmints” (wild mammals such as raccoons, weasels, and coyotes)
- Lawn services
- Attic and crawl space treatments
- Termite control
- Removal of nests
- Rodent control
- Mosquito control
- Fleas and ticks
- Bed bugs
The best call here is to think about the area you live in and the pest control problems prevalent there. Floridians, for instance, are always battling ants. Or, if you see many wood-framed houses in your area, you can consider offering termite control.
After zeroing on a pest control unit, you can carry out other essential business tasks, such as maintaining an inventory of necessary products and equipment, marketing your services, and hiring employees.
Step 2: Plan Your Pest Control Business
Having a well-drafted business plan improves your chances of being a successful entrepreneur. It’ll help you map out the specifics, as well as uncover any gaps and unknowns.
But before you can develop a plan, you’ll need to figure out some crucial pointers. Let’s take a look.
Know Your Costs and Expenses
Starting a pest control business involves a myriad of expenses, including equipment cost, insurance, rent, office cost, and so on. You’ll also have to pay licensing and registration fees and insurance.
Consider all the above expenses to determine an accurate budget for your business. This will ensure you don’t end up going overboard.
Define Your Target Market
Next, think about the requirements of your ideal client. Use this to develop a persona around your clients—who they are, what they need, and why they need it.
In this case, your ideal customer is a property owner who owns a lot of buildings. Think rental property owners, businessmen who own commercial properties, government agencies, apartment complexes, and so on.
While targeting individuals who own diminutive buildings is an option, you can charge a higher rate from people who own large properties for additional square footage.
Figure Out Your Pricing Structure
Deciding how much you’ll charge for your services is a key consideration when starting out.
The best way to get an idea of competitive prices is by conducting market research in your area. But to give you an idea, pest control businesses usually operate with a subscription model, where users pay a monthly or quarterly fee to avail of the services.
If this sounds appealing, you should think about how you’ll handle the recurring transactions.
Generally, creating a simplified user experience increases the odds of getting paid quickly and efficiently after sending an invoice. It’s why setting up a website is your best option for quick and secure payment collection.
Create Your Business Plan
A business plan is an outline of how you intend to run your business. It’s a formal document that includes the following information:
- The legal structure of your business (partnership, limited liability company, proprietorship)
- How do you plan on generating revenue
- An overview of your assets and liabilities
- An official plan for hiring employees
- Your long-term goals and revenue projections
Besides keeping everyone on track, a business plan also comes in handy to secure small business loans or financing. Be sure to prepare a straightforward plan that highlights your biggest goals, challenges, and strengths.
Step 3: Build a Brand for Your Pest Control Business
Your brand is your company’s identity. It’s how your target audience will know you and differentiate your company from your competitors.
But there’s a catch: choosing your brand elements can be surprisingly tedious. I say this from experience.
It’s why I recommend developing your value proposition. Doing this will give you a better idea about what you envision for your company, which, in turn, will make branding decision-making easier. Here’s how to get started.
Develop Your Value Proposition
Customers always want the best bang for their buck, which is why they compare different pest control services. You have to know what sets your services apart from the pack.
To create your unique value or selling proposition, you can consider the following questions:
- What unique service to offer that others don’t?
- How do I solve customers’ pain points in a way that promotes satisfaction?
- What makes my company’s customer service superior to my competitors?
- Do my customers receive any intangible value from working with my company? If yes, what?
For instance, your value proposition could be that your company offers a complimentary follow-up appointment after the first on-site pest control visit. This could be particularly appealing to customers worried about pricing and results.
The idea is to lock in their attention, encouraging them to give your services a try.
Build Your Brand
At this stage, you already established the foundation. Next, it’s time to customize your brand.
As mentioned, your brand includes all recognizable characteristics that allow your customers to identify you. Your business name, logo, color scheme, and font—maybe even a tagline—are all a part of your brand.
Consider this: what do you want customers to see I know when they first interact with your company? You can clarify processes and make decisions based on your answer down the line.
Once you’ve picked out your company name, logo, and colors, make sure you use your brand image on everything—right from your website to vehicles to social media.
Step 4: Sort Out Your Licensing, Registration, and Insurance Requirements
Pest control is a regulated business, regardless of the state you operate in. You must check with your state laws before starting your business to stay on top of the various federal, state, and county licensing registration and certification processes.
Form a Legal Entity
You need to register your pest control business before taking on clients.
First and foremost, you have to choose a business structure. Your options include the sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, and Corporation. If you choose to be an LLC or corporation, you won’t be held personally liable for your business‘s debts.
But really, it’s your call.
The good news is you can enlist the services of a business formation company to handle all business formation responsibilities and filing the necessary paperwork.
Get the Necessary Certificates and Licenses
To operate legally, you’re required to file the appropriate legal documentation or paperwork and pay administrative fees.
Being the owner of a pest control business, you’ll have to complete several federal, state, and county processes. After all, you’re dealing with strong and potentially dangerous chemicals that usually require some red tape.
Here’s an excerpt from the EPA website:
Federal law requires any person who applies or supervises the use of restricted use pesticides (RUPs) to be certified in accordance with EPA regulations and state, territorial and tribal laws. Pesticide applicators must know how to apply RUPs properly and effectively.
Many states have made it necessary for all commercial applications to be certified—not just those using RUPs.
Therefore, you should check your state law on the legal requirements. Another good source to find certification courses is through your state’s Department of Agriculture (DoA).
Additionally, you should set up your business officially with the IRS. This is an important step to claim your business name, open bank accounts, and file business taxes.
Get Your Insurance
Ever thought about what you’d do if you stained an area with chemicals? Or if you damage a client’s property on the job? Maybe miss something that may end up in a lawsuit?
I highly recommend purchasing insurance for your pest control business. With an insurance backup, you won’t have to pay everything out of your pocket, keeping your business’s finances stable.
You’ll probably hire a few employees and buy vehicles to visit client sites along the way, so it would be worth looking into workers‘ compensation and auto insurance.
Be very thorough when researching your insurance options. Always take extra initiative to ensure you choose the path that’s right for you.
Step 5: Kickstart Your Pest Control Business
At this stage, you can finally focus on starting your business.
You have to buy the required materials and equipment, find clients, and work on a marketing strategy that gets potential clients to come to you.
Buy the Right Pest Control Equipment and Materials
Once your business is established, you’ll have to buy pest control equipment for your daily operations. Some of the more important purchases you need to make are:
- Vehicles and work trucks for your supplies and equipment
- Chemicals and pesticides
- Uniforms, including safety gear and protective equipment (gloves, boots, respirators, long sleeves and pants, and so on)
- Equipment for physical removal of pests and application of sprays
- Business-related services like phone, Wi-Fi, and accounting software
This step will require considerable capital investment. You can get funds with personal assets or through small business loan options.
Find Your Ideal Clients
Think about your ideal client. What are their biggest pain points when it comes to bugs and critters? This will help you understand what kind of pests you’ll have to tackle throughout your area.
You’ve already established your target audience in Step 2. Now, you just need to find people who fit the bill.
Implement an Effective Marketing Strategy
Developing and implementing a marketing strategy is another crucial aspect of starting a pest control business.
You have to figure out how new customers will find you and what you can offer that would appeal to them. Incorporate some of the earlier steps, such as defining your brand and mission, into this part of the process. Here are a few tried-and-tested marketing and advertising tactics that you can consider using:
- Local print advertising
- Local and organic search engine optimization (SEO)
- Digital media
- Word-of-mouth referrals
- Radio or televised ads
Use your efforts to gain greater insights into your target audience or ideal customer. Research the common pest control needs in your community, ask existing customers for feedback, and provide follow-up details about expected results.
Each marketing touchpoint is an opportunity to gather relevant data about your customer’s unique requirements.
So there you have it—that’s how you start your own pest control business and set yourself up for success. I hope this article will kick you off in the right direction and make your business a whole lot easier.