Starting a new business can be a scary thing, especially since you don’t know whether or not it’ll work out.
So is pest control a good business? Pest control is absolutely a good business, as long as you have the right business model, you’re dedicated to helping the company grow, and you’re willing to invest both money and sweat equity to make sure it’s successful at all costs.
Owning a pest control business can earn you a substantial income. But going at it alone can be difficult and will require time, energy, money, and a strong will for success. That’s why many people who own their business start by working for another pest control business.
What does a pest control business do?
A pest control business is responsible for eliminating pests and preventing them from returning in the future. This includes rats, mice, termites, cockroaches, wasps, and all other kinds of pests that can damage a home or business. With most pests, exterminators will set up either natural baits or traps to safely remove or kill the pests or poison to eliminate them. Exterminators will also need to seal off entry points so the pests cannot return. An example is a hole in your basement cinderblock where wasps may have found an entry point to make a nest.
Pest control businesses may also have to fumigate a home or building, which can be highly toxic and dangerous. They also should teach their clients how to manage pest problems more effectively. As you can tell, the owner of a pest control business has to be extremely customer-focused and diligently aware of homes that have small children and pets.
The other thing to consider is that pest control businesses tend to be seasonal (depending on where you live, of course). For instance, winter tends to bring an infestation of mice to your home, garage, business, car, etc. This is when they are looking for a warm place to sleep and build a nest. On the flip side, the summer may bring the need for removing things like wasps, ants, or even bats in some parts of the country. You should be prepared for the ebbs and flows of demand and know how where you live can impact it.
Once you understand that (and with good customer service, marketing, and salesmanship), you move from one-time services to recurring packages to generate a more consistent income. An example might be a bi-annual mosquito control service, where you spray the perimeter of a home.
What do I need to start a pest control business?
Just like any business, starting a pest control company can cost a lot of money, so it’s best to be prepared. After you’ve crafted a business and marketing plan (as well as researching the competition to make sure it’s a viable business where you live), there are a few things you’re going to need to get started.
- Knowledge of the pest control industry. Understanding pest control and the different types of pests and what removes or kills them is a must. You’ll want to have some experience doing pest control, too, which is why many people work for another company before starting their own.
- A van or truck. You aren’t going to be successful if you’re driving around in a Mazda Miata. You’ll need enough space to carry equipment (tools, ladders, etc.) and harsh chemicals for when you need them. Remember, people don’t always call exterminators for an estimate – often, they need a solution right away, so you need to be ready for that.
- The right insurance. You should never run a business without the proper insurance. You’re going to be traveling to homes and businesses and working on those homes and businesses. Protect yourself and your company from any mishaps by having the right business insurance.
- A marketing plan. This includes a professional-looking website, appropriate wraps or signage on your van or truck, professional-looking business cards, and a plan to advertise (preferably online, since few people read the paper anymore).
- Interpersonal skills. If you don’t have them, hire someone who does. You can be successful with a business if you aren’t a “people-person,” but you’ll need someone to be the “face” when working with customers. Ideally, this would be you, so it doesn’t hurt to brush up on your networking, relationship-building, and business skills.
- Proper certification. Pest control is highly-regulated, so you’ll need to have the appropriate credentials before you start fumigating people’s homes. The best way to determine what is required in your particular area is by contacting the state pest control board for information on certifications. That way, you’ll know exactly what is needed to get started in your area.
- A “training” plan. No, you don’t have to become a corporate trainer, but the best pest control businesses teach their customers how to control pests independently. This isn’t giving away your business (especially since this is such a dirty job), but if you can help people with some tips and tricks or how-to advice on controlling pest issues, they’ll be more likely to hire you in the future. So it’s smart to have an education plan for your customers and potential customers.
Why should I start a pest control business?
Starting a pest control business can be lucrative. According to Forbes, a stable pest control business can generate more than $75,000 in revenue with relative ease. In fact, one mom built a $10 million pest control business from home.
And pest control isn’t going anywhere. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, exterminators will continue to be in demand from at least now through 2024. And personally, I don’t see that demand waning at all.
Think about it – people buy and build homes regularly. There are always going to be pests like rats, mice, wasps, etc. So there’s still going to be a demand. The things you need to think about are competition and marketing.
Additionally, the work can become routine – which can lead to repeat business. For instance, a simple job (such as getting rid of ants in a small location with ant killer) may lead to follow-up appointments or routine pest control if you do a good job.
Why might I not want to start a pest control business?
One of the biggest complaints my colleagues have made was that the work conditions are rarely great. You might be outside in a blizzard trying to find a rat’s nest or in an upstairs attic during the middle of summer, searching for the entry point of a yellow jacket colony. You may also inadvertently bring pests home with you. For example, if you’re getting rid of cockroaches in Florida (which never seem to die, by the way), one may sneak into your bag unknowingly, and you might bring it home.
And don’t forget, many people won’t care about the “natural” options and want you just to lay down or spray the harsh chemicals to get rid of the pests. While this can be effective, it can also be harmful to your health in the long-term.
And speaking of chemicals, you’re going to have to have a safe place to store them, as well as the tools you’ll need for the job. On top of that, your storage has to meet both local and state requirements. And like any other business, there are possible legal issues to consider. If you apply a chemical, for example, that injures someone or damages property, you could get sued.
And finally, those companies I suggested you work for at first will have a much larger budget and footprint than you as a solopreneur. So you must have the best products and services you possibly can, so customers will go to you instead of a big-name chain.
As you can see, with the right outlook and plan, a pest control business can be super-successful. I didn’t share the “cons” to scare you away, but rather to help you understand that there are nuances and risks to consider before jumping right in. Hopefully, this has provided you a good understanding of whether a pest control business is right for you.