How to Start a Pest Control Service
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.
Learn how to start your own Pest Control Service and whether it is the right fit for you.
Ready to form your LLC? Check out the Top LLC Formation Services.
Start a pest control service by following these 10 steps:
- Plan your Pest Control Service
- Form your Pest Control Service into a Legal Entity
- Register your Pest Control Service for Taxes
- Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
- Set up Accounting for your Pest Control Service
- Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Pest Control Service
- Get Pest Control Service Insurance
- Define your Pest Control Service Brand
- Create your Pest Control Service Website
- Set up your Business Phone System
We have put together this simple guide to starting your pest control service. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What will you name your business?
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Pest Control Service Name Generator
If you operate a sole proprietorship, you might want to operate under a business name other than your own name. Visit our DBA guide to learn more.
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
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 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.
Who 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.
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.
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.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
The most common business structure types are the sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation.
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your pest control service is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
You can form an LLC yourself and pay only the minimal state LLC costs or hire one of the Best LLC Services for a small, additional fee.
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN through the IRS website. If you would like to learn more about EINs, read our article, What is an EIN?
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Open a business bank account
Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:
- Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.
Get a business credit card
Getting a business credit card helps you:
- Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.
Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from Divvy and build your business credit quickly.
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.
Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.
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.
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:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
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.
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.
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.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
FInd out what types of insurance your Pest Control Service needs and how much it will cost you by reading our guide Business Insurance for Pest Control Service.
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.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
Recommended: Get a logo using Truic's free logo Generator no email or sign up required, or use a Premium Logo Maker.
If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.
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.
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.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
Recommended: Get started today using our recommended website builder or check out our review of the Best Website Builders.
Other popular website builders are: WordPress, WIX, Weebly, Squarespace, and Shopify.
STEP 10: Set up your business phone system
Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.
There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2023 to find the best phone service for your small business.
Recommended Business Phone Service: Phone.com
Phone.com is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.
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Is this Business Right For You?
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.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
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 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 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.
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Take the Next Step
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.
Learn from other business owners
Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
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.
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.
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Real World Examples
- Orkin: Pest Control on a National Scale
- Knock ‘Em Out Pest Pest Control
- Griffin Pest Solutions Local Pest Control