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Jobber Academy

How to Start a Pest Control Business

Profile picture of Nina Legesse, former content strategist and writer for Jobber Academy
Nina Legesse
April 19, 2024 12 min. read

Starting a pest control business is challenging yet rewarding. You can run a profitable, meaningful business by being your community’s go-to exterminator.

Follow our guide below to start your pest control business. You’ll learn how to plan your business, get funding, market your services, and manage and grow your operations.

1. Define your pest control services

The first step in starting a successful pest control business is choosing the right services to offer. Start by identifying common pest control problems in your service area, like:

  • Occasional or year-round pests (ants, wasps, beetles, sowbugs, centipedes, silverfish)
  • Seasonal pests (ladybugs, boxelder beetles, spiders)
  • Invasive pests (cockroaches, bedbugs, carpenter ants)
  • Wildlife (pigeons, skunks, sparrows, groundhogs, bats)

You don’t need to offer all of these services. Focus on the most in-demand niche in your area, or the one you’re best equipped to serve.

How to price pest control services

Use a smart pricing strategy like value-based or tiered pricing. Factor in your labor, materials, overhead, and profit margin.

For example, say your hourly pay is $18.00. This means that for a five-hour job requiring $100 in materials and $30 in overhead (and with a 15% profit margin), you should charge $253.

This number will be even higher if you factor in added labor costs or other expenses.

FREE TOOL: Set profitable rates with our free service pricing calculator

Pro Tip: You can always use competitor rates as a guide, but don’t let them dictate your pricing. Your business has its own expenses and profit margin, plus your own expertise—don’t sell yourself short.

2. Identify your value proposition

Your customers will be looking for value beyond just pest control services. Your value proposition is the way you describe this value, and it’s what makes you stand out from competitors in your local market.

To determine your value proposition, start by researching other pest control businesses in your area. Notice how they market themselves and what added benefit they offer to customers.

Now think about what makes your business different. It could be the types of pests you remove, the methods you use, the types of clients you work with, and so on.

Summarize what you do differently and how that helps your customers. You can then use this idea to shape your brand, marketing, and business decisions.

3. Get pest control licensing and training

To start a pest control business that can use pesticides legally, you’ll need state and federal pesticide licenses (known as restricted use pesticides or RUPs).

Pest control license requirements are different in every region, but you’ll likely need a commercial applicator or public applicator license to do residential and commercial pest control legally.

Structural pest control operators are also required to renew their licenses every five years, and to take regular education courses to stay up to date on the latest practices.

This is a non-negotiable step, as pest control chemicals can be highly dangerous to you, your employees, and your clients. Misapplied chemicals could result in industry-wide chemical bans, so do your due diligence.

Visit the Environmental Protection Agency to learn the federal certification standards for a commercial pesticide applicator, and the Association of American Pesticide Control Officials to see your state requirements and to contact your state official.

4. Build your pest control brand

Your pest control company name forms the first impression of your brand. It should represent your service offering, be easy to say and remember, and help you stand out from the competition.

If you don’t have any ideas for your business name yet, make a list of words that suggest a certain benefit (like fast service or quality work).

Then pick a few words that best describe your business, turn them into names, and ask your family and friends which business name they would trust the most.

When you choose a name, double-check to make sure it isn’t taken. Then use a logo builder like Looka to design a unique logo for use on your website, social media, truck, and business cards.

5. License and register your business

Now that you’re a certified applicator with a business name, here’s how to make your pest control startup legal and operational:

  • Register the business: Register your pest control business at your local registry. If you’re in the U.S., you’ll pay a registration fee, trademark your name, and register your domain. (Here’s how to register your name in Canadathe UK, or Australia.) Registration can take six weeks or more, so start early.
  • Choose a business structure: U.S. businesses can register as a sole proprietor, partnership, or limited liability company (LLC). An LLC is a popular option because it reduces your liability if you’re ever sued.
  • Get a business license: You need a business license to legally perform pest control work in your area. Head over to your municipality’s website or contact your local Chamber of Commerce to see what type of license you need and apply for it.
  • Get an EIN: If your business will ever have employees other than yourself, apply for an employer identification number (EIN) through the Internal Revenue Service. This will allow you to accurately file your taxes as an employer.

Pro Tip: If you’re operating from home to save on startup costs, buy or rent a P.O. box to protect your privacy and make you look like a larger, more professional business.

6. Get pest control business insurance

As a pest control business owner, you’ll be dealing with pesticide applications, using heavy-duty equipment, and working in people’s homes and businesses. You’ll need small business insurance to keep your company and assets safe.

It’s recommended you have a business owner’s policy at minimum, which includes:

  • General liability insurance in case of property damage or bodily harm
  • Commercial property insurance for damage to your equipment or place of business
  • Business income insurance to keep cash flowing after an incident or disaster

You may also require commercial auto insurance, workers’ compensation, and other coverage for situations that could harm your business.

There’s a lot of risk and liability on your hands, so shop around to get the best insurance quotes to protect yourself, your business, and your employees.

7. Open a business bank account

Set up a business bank account to keep your pest control business income and expenses separate from your personal finances. This makes everything easier during tax season.

READ MORE: 30 small business tax deductions to save money when filing

Next, set up a reserve fund with enough cash for at least 90 days’ expenses. This covers your business if you run into any cash flow issues or unpaid invoices.

Finally, look for an accountant who can help you manage your business finances. Some business owners prefer to manage their books themselves with accounting software like Quickbooks, but outsourcing can save you time and trouble.

READ MORE: 8 ways to improve cash flow for your small business

8. Invest in pest control equipment

As a pest control technician, you require special equipment and chemicals to do your job. Here are the supplies you’ll likely need when starting a pest control business:

  • Telescoping mirror and endoscope
  • LED flashlight
  • Infrared temperature sensor
  • Night vision cameras
  • Rodent and live animal traps
  • Ultrasonic pest repellant
  • Vacuum with HEPA filtration
  • Backpack sprayer with wand and foamer nozzle
  • Thermal, cold, or ULV fogger
  • Skid sprayer (for lawn work)
  • Insecticide
  • Bulb duster
  • Tool belt
  • Basic toolkit with drill
  • Ladder
  • Hole sealant
  • First aid kit and chemical spill kit
  • PPE (earmuffs, respirator, PVC gloves, safety goggles, bee suit)

The exact chemicals you can use will depend on the pests you’re dealing with and your location. Research your local and state requirements before purchasing or using chemical pesticides.

If you keep chemicals in your work vehicle, always keep it securely locked. These chemicals are regulated and highly dangerous—you don’t want them falling into the wrong hands.

9. Identify your ideal clients

Working with the right audience makes it easier to get repeat customers—and that’s the key to any successful company.

You can identify your ideal customers based on factors like:

  • Market (residential, commercial)
  • Geographic location (neighborhood, town/city)
  • Demographic (age, income, family status)
  • Needs (type of pest problem, price, quality, speed)

Let the market determine who you serve and what types of pest control service you offer. For example, if your area sees a lot of wasps’ nests, you’ll definitely need that on your services list.

If your target clients are mostly commercial, or you’re in a region with really stubborn pests, focus on selling pest control contracts. These contracts promise your customers ongoing service—and guarantee ongoing revenue for your business.

It’s also a good idea to specialize in types of pest removal that competitors don’t offer. For example, if you’re the only business that handles snakes, you’ll land every snake removal job in town.

10. Get clients with pest control marketing

Pest control marketing helps you get noticed, build a healthy client list, and start earning revenue.

You’ll be competing with a lot of other pest control companies, so put together a quick marketing plan to make sure your business stands out. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Get on social media. Set up a Facebook business page, Twitter profile, or Instagram account, then post often and have conversations with followers. You can also connect with your community and advertise your services in local Facebook or Nextdoor groups.
  • Build a pest control website that helps you look professional, shows off your services and work, and makes it easy for customers to book services online.
  • List your business for free on Google Business, Yelp for Business, Bing Places, and other online directories that connect pest control businesses with potential customers. You can also use paid lead generation sites like Thumbtack, Angi, or HomeAdvisor.
  • Earn word of mouth marketing by starting a customer referral program and asking satisfied customers to leave you an online review.
  • Print pest control flyers, leave door hangers, or reach new customers door-to-door with postcard marketing in the neighborhoods where you want to work. You can also leave behind yard signs after finishing a job, if customers are okay with it.
  • Buy business cards, branded uniforms, and a vehicle wrap for your company truck. This makes your business look polished and professional. You can brand quotes, invoices, emails, and other materials, too.
  • Network with other business owners and connect with potential customers by joining your local business association, taking part in community events, and promoting your business to everyone you meet.

When you have more experience and budget, create pest control ads and run them on Facebook, Google Local Services, and other online advertising platforms.

Whatever way you advertise your pest control business, make sure you’re choosing channels where your audiences spend time. That’ll give you the biggest bang for your buck.

11. Hire pest control employees

As time goes on, your pest control business will get more and more jobs—and you won’t be able to complete them all yourself. It’s time to hire some help.

Follow these steps to hire your first employee for your pest control company:

  1. Figure out if you need part-time or permanent employees, and how much your business can afford to pay them. Think about if you want to hire a subcontractor or employee.
  2. Write a pest control job description for the new position that includes the role, responsibilities, qualifications, and personality traits that would make a job candidate successful.
  3. Share your job posting with the world. Post it on online job boards like LinkedIn and Indeed, and make it easy for potential employees to apply.
  4. Make a shortlist of the best candidates, book interviews with them, and ask interview questions that will help you find the right technician for your pest control business.
  5. Make an offer to your top candidate, then train them to handle pests just as well as you.

The process of hiring an employee can take 2–12 weeks, depending on the job market in your area. It’s okay to wait to hire until you find the right person—you can’t rush a good fit.

READ MORE: Stan Genadek’s top 7 small business hiring tips

12. Run your pest control business like a pro

Once you start bringing in work, you’ll need to manage each job professionally. Here’s how pest control software like Jobber can help you run a smooth operation:

  • Manage clients: Store your clients’ details in Jobber’s CRM, including their name, address, pest history, chemical use and more, all in one place.
  • Track chemicals: Track how often you use specific products on any property or for any client with chemical tracking and reporting.
  • Send quotes: Send custom, professional-looking quotes and get notified when clients open or approve them.
  • Accept tips and get paid 4x faster: Jobber provides convenient, touchless payment options for your customers—with no hidden fees. Plus, customers tip an average of 15% on their invoice when paying online.

READ MORE: Repelling pests and making gains: using tech to grow 1800% in 5 years

Ready to roll? Start spraying and get your customers paying—and use Jobber to keep it all organized.

Originally published July 2019. Last updated April 19, 2024.

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