How to start a pest control company

On Friday after work instead of meeting friends for drinks go home and get to work. Buy a domain and get hosting. I love Bluehost for a cheap yet reliable option. Set up a website on WordPress. Pay someone on a freelancing site to create a simple logo for you and some marketing material.

Decide what type of pest control or extermination you want to focus on initially. Most states have different certification, licensing and exams for different types. Termites, rodents, insects, commercial, residential, agriculture etc. Use your state related resources to decide. Termite treatment is huge where I am (south eastern USA).

Consider differentiating yourself by doing natural no-kill pest control.

Read, study, and complete your training requirements to sit for your exam and get certified. In my state to become a technician you need 10 hours of classroom training, 70 hours of on-the job experience, and a score of 70% or higher on the exam. You are also on the hook for some minor licensing fees. You’re now ready to work for a company offering pest control. This is a great way to learn the business and get experience so you should consider doing this.

There are likely additional training, exam, and certification requirements to start your own business. You will also need liability, errors and omissions, property, auto and workers compensation insurance. There are companies that specialize in providing this industry with the necessary insurance.

Now that you are covered and have the required knowledge its time to get the equipment you need. Consider buying a 5 year old Ford E-series cargo van. They are a great value and here’s a decent guide. Dont be afraid to use your personal vehicle at first.

Get the equipment needed to apply your type of chemicals and to protect your body while doing the application. For termites this involves digging and putting bait stations in the ground. For rodents you will need the bait stations. For cock roaches you will need sprayers.

Buy your chemicals off doyourownpestcontrol at first. When you get some momentum and start doing more you can get a supplier and negotiate better terms.

Crush you competitors with amazing customer service.

Any service business is all about eager professionalism. If you answer the phone every time with a great attitude and a genuine feeling of excitement to help people solve their problems you will be ahead of 95% of the businesses in this field. Show up with a clean cut technician wearing a polo and khakis and you’re golden. Put shoe covers on before walking in someones home. The little things matter.

Lets talk marketing. What type of person is likely in the market for pest control services? Who is your most likely customer?

Like most home services we’re going to target people who recently moved into a new home. They are the most likely to buy what you are selling. Follow the “recently sold” listings on realtor, redfin, and zillow. Go knock on the door or hang a flyer on the door knob. Consider sending a hand written note by mail. Get creative on how to reach these people.

This is an old school industry so a lot of businesses are operated like its 1985. No website. No digital marketing. No sales tracking systems. You may also be able to get very cheap clicks on Google Adwords. Make sure to set up conversion tracking so you can measure your spend and calculate your ROI.

The thing about this business is that new customers are very valuable because its a subscription based business model. Customers are going to pay you $40 a month or more for this service and if you treat them well they’ll be on board for years and years to come.

Knowing this consider doing what nobody in this space does and offer the termite installation free. Or the bait station installation free. Or the first month of cockroach treatments free. Add value first and profit later. Its about gaining trust and brand awareness in the early days. The leaner you can operate and the longer you can go without pulling profit out of the business the better. Look at these free services as marketing spend. Track your time and your material against your conversions and the value of those customers and get to your ROI.

When a customer calls analyze the home on zillow. Look at the square footage. They likely just bought the house so it likely has a lot of photos online for you to view. Does it have a basement? How old is it? Provide a quote instantly. The quicker you can provide a quote the higher your conversion rate will be. Soon you’ll be able to quote 25%-50% higher than you competitors but since you turn around a quote in 10 minutes and they take 48 hours you’ll get the work.

Get your early customers to leave reviews on your google location. That will be huge for you and when it kicks in you will feel the instant turbo boost. Make videos and target keywords in your area on Youtube, the second largest search engine in the world.

Give a customer a few bucks off a service to leave a yard sign in their yard for 10 days.

Target your facebook advertising to customers who recently changed their city location and are now in your area. They just moved here and you can target your ideal customer.

Make friends with realtors in town and service their homes at a discount to get them to hand your brochure to a new homeowner when they move in. Remember that people do business with people they like. Be likable and spend time on developing personal relationships with your clients.

Watch the local planning board schedule for new apartment developments. Go to the meeting and talk to the owners and get your card in their hand so you are the first call when it comes time to sign on a pest control contract. Watch for new restaurants opening up and do the same.

Lets talk operations.

Get very good at selling customers on additional pest control subscriptions while walking around their home with them. Give away a lot of knowledge for free to gain trust.

Your customer base will start to grow and you will be ready to quit your job. Continue to offer the service yourself until you have a full schedule and then make a hire.

Simplify the job for your employees so normal people can do it really well. You don’t want to have to have great employees to succeed. You want to set up average joes to thrive at your company. Take as much off their plate as possible. They don’t quote services. They don’t take payment. They are paperless. They show up looking professional and do their job and leave.

Differentiate yourself from your competitors by getting some out of the box software that allows you to communicate with your customers very effectively. When you’re on your way to their home or business they should get a text message or an email. In that should be a link and a photo of the technician thats on the way and a description of how the service will go and what to expect along with frequent questions answered.

When you leave they should get a receipt emailed to them instantly with a report. You can charge their card on file instantly. Jobber can do all of this.

Have your employees install a time tracking app on their phone that tracks their location and their hours for your review. Use a digital on-boarding and payroll company like Gusto or Paychex. Stay very organized using quickbooks online. Hire an accountant and bookkeeper for $500 per month or less.

Outsource what you aren’t good at so you can focus on sales, training and managing your employees.

Make speed your competitive advantage. Don’t compete on price. Be able to get a quote to a customer within 30 minutes and meet the customer to walk around their home and answer questions the same day. Be extremely likable and professional. Focus less on selling and more on educating and helping. This is something your highest trained employees (and you initially) should be doing. You can charge double what your competitors charge by offering this type of service.

This is a beautiful business because the revenue comes in on a subscription basis. Its reliable. You can build processes around it and automate it a lot easier than high skilled labor jobs. Your business is also more valuable because you have a bunch of recurring business so you can sell it to a competitor if you want to go that route.

A few notes before you start:

Don’t forget your market research. My favorite way to do this is to call around the top 5 google ranked pest control companies in your city. Ask them a ton of questions. Find out how busy they are. How long does it take them to put together a quote?

Run your cashflow projections on a month to month basis. Buy your equipment used so you can operate as lean as possible and sell it if you decide to close up shop. Budget all of the expenses you will have and then add 10%. Make sure you still have the cash to operate for several months with no sales.

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About Me

I started the Sweaty Startup in December of 2018 because I believe the Shark Tank and Tech Crunch culture is ruining the real spirit of low-risk entrepreneurship.