Business Overview

Just about every building has bugs or rodents of some sort. Pest control businesses eliminate or significantly reduce the presence of these pests with chemicals and other treatments. Pest control businesses treat homes, businesses, schools, government buildings and structures of other varieties.

Who is this business right for?

This business is ideal for those who are comfortable working in the vicinity of a considerable number of insects, rodents and other animals. It is also ideal for those who are comfortable using potentially harmful chemical treatments to eliminate pests. If you have a passion for cleanliness and pest removal, launching a pest control business is worth your consideration.

What happens during a typical day at a pest control service?

A pest control business owner's daily activities include seeking new clients, marketing the company's services, assessing infested sites, performing pest removal and educating customers about pest prevention tactics. Pest control business owners also manage employees, handle logistics matters, purchase pest removal equipment and maintain equipment.

What is the target market?

The ideal customer is a property owner who owns several buildings. Examples of such business owners include rental property owners, businessmen who own several commercial properties and government agencies with numerous offices. Those who own large properties are favored over those who own diminutive buildings as a higher rate can be charged for additional square footage.

How does a pest control service make money?

Pest control businesses make money by charging clients for pest removal services. Many clients elect to have their property sprayed with pest removal chemicals several times per year. Some are content with having their property treated only when pests rear their ugly heads.

What is the growth potential for a pest control service?

A successful pest control business has the potential to become a regional business and eventually a national business. Initial growth occurs in one's local area. If the business develops a solid reputation, additional opportunities for pest removal will pop up as time progresses. If costs are kept low, the business can expand throughout the area, open up new offices, hire additional employees and expand far and wide.

Getting Started

What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful pest control service?

Pest control business owners must have knowledge of insects, rodents and other animals that find their way into homes, businesses and other structures. These businessmen will likely start out performing pest removals on their own so they should not be uneasy around unsavory critters hiding in homes and offices. Furthermore, the entrepreneur should have a knack for marketing and have rock-solid interpersonal skills. The success of the business partially hinges on the owner's ability to establish connections with new customers and generate a rapport with prospects.

What are the costs involved in opening a pest control service?

Pest control businesses have myriad costs ranging from equipment costs to labor costs, office costs, insurance costs, monthly rent and vehicle expenses. It is also necessary to license, register and insure the business.

What are the steps to start a pest control service?

Once you're ready to start your pest control service, follow these steps to ensure that your business is legally compliant and avoid wasting time and money as your business grows:

STEP 1: Plan your Business

A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. A few important topics to consider are:

  • What are the initial costs?
  • Who is your target market?
  • How long it will take you to break even?
  • What will you name your business?

Choosing the right name is very important. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.

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STEP 2. Form a legal entity

Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC prevents you from being personally liable if your security guard company is sued.

STEP 3. Register for taxes

You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.

STEP 4. Open a business bank account

Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.

STEP 5. Set up business accounting

Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.

STEP 6. Obtain necessary permits and licenses

Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.

STEP 7. Get Business Insurance

Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.

STEP 8. Define your brand.

Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.

STEP 9. Establish your Web Presence

A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.

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Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.

Where can I find a business mentor?

One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.

Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.

What are some insider tips for jump starting a pest control service?

It is prudent to pass through an apprenticeship with an experienced pest removal expert before attempting to launch a pest control enterprise. This is not the type of business a layman can launch and turn into a million dollar enterprise. Perform extensive research about the best pest removal tactics and the latest pest removal products and technologies. Keep in mind that competitors have access to the same equipment, chemicals and resources. Your personality, cordiality, price and brand recognition must separate you from the pack.

Growing Your Business

How to promote & market a pest control service

The best way to promote a pest control business is to establish relationships with property owners throughout the community. Successfully remove pests from several properties and word will gradually spread about your company's merit. It also helps to have a polished website with informative content including SEO-oriented (search engine optimization) blog posts, videos, links to social media and customer reviews.

Recommended: Get started with local advertising for your business with a $300 credit from Yelp.

How to keep customers coming back

Some pest control business experts have established important connections with customers by advertising through traditional mediums like radio, the local newspaper and TV commercials. Others have attracted customers by focusing on their SEO with high-quality web content, on-site blog posts, guest blogging, social media activity and other forms of content marketing. However, the best way to attract customers is by pressing the flesh. Interact with members of the community and spread the word about your business. Remove pests for good and customers will refer you to colleagues, friends, family etc.

How and when to build a team

Though you can operate your pest control business on your own for the first weeks and months, a team will eventually be necessary. It is prudent to hire a secretary to field phone calls, schedule consultations/pest removal projects, answer prospects' questions and address concerns. Though you can perform pest removal services on your own when the business is first launched, you will likely have to hire exterminators as you add clients in the following months and years. You will also have to add a marketing professional and accountant as the business grows.

Legal Considerations

State & Local Business Licensing Requirements

Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a pest control business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.

For information about local licenses and permits:

Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.

Maintain Personal Asset Protection

Don’t think that just forming an LLC, or any other type of business, will save your personal assets in case of a lawsuit or other matter by itself.

When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your LLC is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.

Two of the simplest steps that will protect your business, and yourself, are to:

Open a business bank account

  • This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.

  • It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.

Get a business credit card

  • This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
  • It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
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To learn more about maintaining your LLC's corporate veil, read our guide and protect your personal assets.

Services Contract

Pest control businesses should require clients to sign a services agreement before starting a new project.  This agreement should clarify client expectations and minimize risk of legal disputes by setting out payment terms and conditions, service level expectations, and intellectual property ownership. Here is an example of one such services agreement.

Recommended: Rocket Lawyer makes it easy to create a professional service agreement for your pest control business when you sign up for their premium membership. For $39.95 per month, members receive access to hundreds of legal agreements and on call attorneys to get complimentary legal advice.

Earning Potential

How much can you charge customers?

The typical one-time treatment costs between $250 and $550. You can charge around $1,000 to treat a massive infestation of termites. You can charge $100 to $200 to remove a single animal such as a mouse. Many customers opt for monthly, bi-annual or yearly treatments of the exterior of their property. You can charge $100 to $150 or more for these fairly superficial treatments. The cost of the treatment largely depends on the size of the property and the extent of the infestation. Particularly large properties and properties with a deeply rooted infestation are opportunities for pest control experts to charge higher prices.

What are the ongoing expenses for a pest control service?

Ongoing expenses include office rent, utilities for the office, labor costs, marketing costs, equipment costs, insurance costs and marketing expenses. Expect to spend a couple hundred dollars on marketing each month when the business is in its infancy. This figure can reach a thousand dollars or more per month when the business has matured. In terms of labor, a secretary will cost $10-$15 per hour. Exterminators will likely earn between $15 and $25 per hour. If you hire a marketing professional, he will command a salary in the range of $30,000 to $50,000 per year. The same salary range will apply to your business's accountant.

If you do not purchase property for your office, your monthly rent will likely be between $600 and $1,200 depending on your location and the size of the facility. Office utilities will likely run between $75 and $200 per month. High-speed Internet will likely cost $50 per month. Equipment is a major expense. Your business needs trucks to transport the equipment and the chemicals required to send pests scurrying away. A single truck will cost at least $20,000 when purchased new. Gear like sprayers, bait guns, vacuums, safety equipment and fogging equipment will cost thousands of dollars. As an example, a single gallon foamer typically costs about $200. A single gallon sprayer usually runs $250. A respirator will likely cost about $100.

How much profit can a pest control service make?

It is possible for a pest control business to make $50,000 to $75,000 in the first couple of years of operation. The profitability hinges on the company's market, unique overhead costs and the number of clients. If the business expands across the region, profitability can jump to several hundred thousand dollars per year or even reach the six-figure range. A pest control company that goes nationwide can rake in millions of dollars per year.

How can you make your business more profitable?

The best way to boost profitability is to forge new relationships with property owners. Be sure to let customers know about your monthly, bi-annual and yearly exterior and interior sprayings to prevent the return of pests. Oftentimes, current customers will pay for these add-on services to reduce the odds of those nasty pests returning to their home, office or other building. You can also make money by selling old equipment to other pest removal companies when it is time to upgrade.

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