Pest control is more than a way to earn a paycheck. It’s a rewarding career where you have the opportunity to help people reclaim their homes from pest infestations. Unfortunately, unwanted creepy crawlies will always try to invade our living spaces, but that means steady business for the pest control business owner!
You may be thinking “What do I need to start my own pest control business?” If you’re interested in starting your own pest control business, but aren’t sure what steps to take, here’s everything you need to know:
1. Determine Your Motivation
Operating a pest control business is a lot of work. Before you start, develop clear reasons why you want to take on this responsibility. You’ll return to these reasons as motivation during frustrating times.
First, as the owner, you’re in control of your financial destiny. If your business performs well, the sky’s the limit regarding what you can earn. You have the potential to earn far more money as an owner than an employee.
Additionally, as the owner, you’re in charge of every aspect of the business. You decide when you work, what clients you want to take on, and all other aspects. Owning the business offers you far more freedom than working for someone else.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, owning a pest control business allows you to assist people during trying times. After all, when someone has a pest infestation, they need help fast. You can provide that help, so folks feel comfortable and safe in their own homes.
2. Training and Expertise Required
Before you begin, ask yourself a question: Are you ready to start your own pest control business? It’s a complicated industry requiring two types of skills:
- Pest Control Know-How
- Business Acumen
First, you’ll need a thorough understanding of the technical aspects of pest control. Your areas of expertise must include the types of pests in your area, how to remove them, and what chemicals and products are needed for effective pest control. This type of knowledge is called the “back end” of the business.
You also need a solid understanding of how to run a small business. Important areas include day-to-day operations, customer service, and marketing, which are known as the “front end” of your business.
3. Create and Develop Your Brand
Your brand is your company’s identity. It consists of every physical and visual element associated with your business. It typically includes:
- Business name
- Color scheme
- Slogans, taglines, and other messaging
All of your messaging should be “on brand.” For example, the colors of your company uniforms should match the colors used on your website and trucks. It’s important to keep the font and design the same to optimize brand recognition. A consistent brand is easier for customers to recognize.
4. Create a Value Proposition
Your value proposition is the main benefits customers receive when they choose your business. It’s what sets you apart from the competition. For a pest control company, your value proposition should answer the following questions:
- What pests do you remove, and how do you do it?
- What specific benefits do your services provide?
- Why are you better/different than competing businesses?
Your value proposition isn’t your slogan or marketing message. Instead, it’s a summary of your business practices and their results. You use the ideas from your value proposition to develop your marketing concepts and overall brand.
5. Set Up Your Pest Control Business
A pest control company has all the standard small business needs. You’ll need to separate it, financially and legally, from you personally. Most small business owners do this by forming a limited liability company.
Depending on where you live, you’ll most likely need to register your business with your local and state government. You’ll probably need to obtain a sales tax license and possibly other licenses. Additionally, you’ll need a commercial bank account.
You’ll need a business address, but a public-facing one isn’t necessarily required. Most customers will contact you by phone or email; maintaining a storefront might not be worth the cost. However, you will need a safe, secure location to store your equipment, vehicles, and other gear.
Don’t forget about pricing for your pest control services. You’ll want to keep your services priced low to attract customers, but still high enough to make a profit. Check out our Pricing Guide for Pest Control Business Owners for an in-depth look.
Aside from all the standard small business needs, you’ll face a few extra hurdles when starting a pest control company. Namely, you’ll need special licensing and insurance. As a pest control company, you’re typically dealing with three factors:
- Working with industrial and hazardous pest control chemicals
- Working on-site in homes and businesses
- Using heavy equipment
You need liability insurance to cover all of the above. Additionally, your business needs to comply with a variety of environmental regulations regarding pest control usage. Specific regulations vary based on where you’re operating and what you’re using.
Navigating these regulations and issues isn’t always easy. Experience working for a pest control company before starting your own is often an effective way to learn the requirements for your city and state.
6. Identify Your Target Market
Let the market determine your specialization, not the other way around. First, determine what type of pest problems people in your area have. You want the capability to handle all the major pests in your area. Remember, pests are often seasonal, so try to anticipate any change in focus throughout the year.
Aside from general-purpose extermination services, try to specialize in a pest or two. Ideally, word will spread around town about “the silverfish guy” or “the skunk wrangler.” Specialization is often a great way to corner a small section of the larger market.
7. Equipment Needed
You probably already know the basic equipment you’ll need. Typically, a basic setup includes:
Additionally, you’ll need pest control chemicals and gear related to the removal of any specialized pests you target.
8. Hiring Employees
When starting a pest control business, don’t try to hire employees right away. Prepare to be a one-person-shop for a while.
However, hopefully, your business will eventually outgrow what you’re capable of doing alone. When hiring an employee, consider the following:
- Pest control experience
- Professional and personal references
- Work history
- Personality: Are they a good match for the company?
As a small business, the pay you can offer might be low. Ideally, you can attract employees by offering them a fun, flexible, and rewarding work environment. Check out The Guide to Hiring and Retaining Pest Control Technicians for many helpful tips.
9. Pest Control Business Software
Also called Business Management Software or Client Relationship Management Software, you’ll need a comprehensive tool to help you track client and business information.
You have enough to do eliminating pests. Let pest control software help you handle practically all other aspects of your business. Features include:
- Budget tracking
- Employee scheduling
- Client invoice processing
- Account and record organization
- Inventory management
Additionally, pest control software also provides several tools specific to the pest control business. For instance, federal and state regulations require precise tracking of pesticide use, which pest control software can handle automatically.
If you’re feeling a bit anxious about how to start a pest control business, utilizing pest control software is often an effective way to help feel at ease.
10. Marketing Tips
Even if you’re the best exterminator ever, your company won’t survive without marketing. You’ll need to proactively reach out to the community and remind them you exist. Fortunately, if you’re not a marketing expert, pest control management software can help handle your marketing needs.
The software system helps streamline several marketing processes, including:
- Customer surveys
- Follow-up contact requesting online reviews
- Reminder notices for pest prevention services (based on seasons or other factors)
Often, this type of software acts as a full-time marketing service, freeing you up to perform your work duties.