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How To Start a Pest Control Business


The pest control industry is often overlooked by many entrepreneurs, but it is actually a $16.9 billion industry with steady revenue growth over the half-decade.

Many properties, both residential and commercial, are still struggling with persistent bedbugs and other pests, and so the demands for pest control services are still very high all over the country.

So, if you are looking to start a pest control business whether as a first-timer or an experienced entrepreneur, then it can be a promising business opportunity with a great potential for profits.

However, just because it’s a lucrative business, doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be successful by simply starting the business. You’ll still need proper planning and market research to ensure you are on the right track from the get-go.

In this guide, we’ll discuss all you need to know about starting a successful pest control business and let us begin by discussing the overview for the pest control business itself.

Starting a Pest Control Business: General Overview

As the name suggests, the main role of a pest control service is to exterminate various types of pests: fleas, bedbugs, mice, roaches, termites, and even mosquitos. This is why the pest control business is also often called the “exterminators” business or pest management business.

Pest control is actually a broad field, and pest control businesses might specialize themselves by using a certain method/technology or specializing in specific types of pests (i.e. termite control).

There are five main treatment methods used by pest control companies:

1. Hygiene control

The idea is fairly simple: a clean place won’t attract pests, so the pest control service will focus on cleaning the property. Typically used in combination with other methods.

2. Organic control

This method only uses safe and organic tools and supplies like bait, trap, oil sprays, insecticidal soap, and so on. This method is often preferred by clients who care about environmental safety and potential health hazards of their children, plants, and pets.

3. Chemical control

Pretty self-explanatory, this method relies on chemical products to control the pest and is typically an option where hygiene and organic control methods are not effective. Obviously, chemical products can be dangerous for humans, plants, and animals, but they are typically very effective in exterminating pests.

4. Biological control

Using other living organisms to control the pest’s population, for example, the natural predator of the pest. Chemical-free, and can be very effective for certain types of pests.

5. Electronic control

Relying on electronic tools like electromagnetic equipment to affect the nervous system of pests, or by using ultrasonic waves.

Pest Control Business: Startup Cost

The pest control business can be considered a relatively affordable business to start, especially when compared to other types of brick-and-mortar businesses.

The most significant investment will most likely go to your vehicle: you’ll need a truck or large enough van that is large enough to transport your equipment and supplies.

To start a basic pest control business, besides the vehicle, at the bare minimum you’ll need:

  • The required licenses and permits
  • Equipment and supplied depending on your pest control method
      • Chemical supplies
      • Chemical applicators
      • Traps, cages, etc.
      • Safety equipment as required
  • Insurance policies
  • A professional website. You can use platforms like Wix or WordPress to easily create a well-designed and functional site
  • Field service software solution to manage the day-to-day operations of your business. You can use affordable and reliable pest control management and scheduling software with various useful features from job tracking, automated schedule/dispatch, and payment management.
  • Vehicle signage, business cards, and other branding materials

In general, you’ll be able to start a pest control business with below $45,000.

Legal Requirements for Starting a Pest Control Business

Pest control is typically regulated in most locations in the U.S. and other countries. It’s best to check with your state’s laws before you start the business to avoid hefty penalties and legal issues in the future.

Most likely you’ll need to acquire permits and licenses before you can lawfully start the business, and if you are dealing with chemical supplies, you’ll also need special certifications. Depending on your location, you may need to take certification courses. Check with your state’s Department of Agriculture for this information.

Most states will also require you to be insured, but even if it’s not a legal requirement, it’s always recommended to get at least basic insurance coverages like General Liability insurance and Worker’s Compensation insurance if you have employees.

How To Get More Clients

For a pest control business, most likely your target clients will be:

  • Property owners, both residential and commercial
  • Property managers/investors who manage several properties
  • Government offices
  • Apartment complexes

It’s best to conduct thorough market research to check the availability of these potential clients in your area and decide whether there are enough demands to justify starting the business.

For a brand new pest control business, you can win the first few clients by:

  • Starting with family and friends, and then ask them to recommend your business
  • Traditional efforts like brochures and posters still work when done right. Promote your business in local communities like churches and local events.
  • Spread the word through social media

Another viable option is to partner with local non-competing businesses so they can help promote your pest control business (and you’ll also promote their businesses to your clients). Services like landscaping, lawn care, home inspection, and real estate agents are good candidates.

Closing Thoughts

Starting your own pest control business can definitely be a profitable venture, but you still need to do it right. By following the tips we’ve shared above, you now have the ingredients to start a successful pest exterminator business.

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