How to Start a Pest Control Business

Published on March 5, 2019

Starting  a pest control business might seem overwhelmingly exhaustive to think about, but with the right steps in place, the process can be simplified with minimal stress.

Perhaps you’ve been in the pest control industry for a while but are tired of working for someone else.

On the other hand, maybe you’re in another service industry and want to make a switch. Or you’re in the lawn care business and want to add pest control to your lineup of services.

Whichever situation you find yourself in, this article will show you how to start a pest control business that's successful for many years to come.

Check out these 10 sure-fire steps every pest control business owner should consider before taking the plunge.

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1. Determine Which Pest Control Services You’ll Provide

Before jumping into starting a pest control business, you’ll need to choose which services make the most sense to offer.

To start, think about the area you live in and the pest problems most prevalent there.

For example, Florida seems to always have an ant problem. You’ve got fire ants outside, sugar ants inside. When it rains, they want to be inside your house, free from the flooding. When it’s dry? They’ll also find a way in looking for water. You’re constantly battling ants.

Have a lot of wood-framed homes in your town? Termite control may be a great option to add to your services.

Here are a few pest control services you can include:

  • Baiting
  • In-home treatments
  • Bed bugs
  • Fumigation
  • Lawn services
  • Fleas and ticks
  • Rodent control
  • Termite control
  • Mosquito control
  • Trapping varmints
  • Attic and crawl space treatments
  • Removal of nests (e.g. bees, wasps, hornets)

Be mindful that as the weather changes, so will the types of pests, and services needed to take care of those pests.

You’ll want to consider adding specific pest control services during those times of the year.

Plus, don't forget to decide whether you're going after residential, commercial, or both services. Think about any contracts, one-time services, recurring services, or packages you might offer.

2. Develop Your Value Proposition

What’s your value proposition?

 Rather, what would make your pest control business stand out from the competition?

To find your value proposition, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How does your business solve the client's problems?
  2. What benefits can clients expect from your services?
  3. What will you do differently (and better) from the competition?

Get to the core of what makes clients want to buy from you.

Once you know what makes the business unique, it's important to use this message in your marketing.

3. Build Your Brand

Branding is your pest control business' identity. It’s those signature marketing characteristics that allow your business to become automatically recognizable.

Branding includes anything from your logo, color scheme, business name, tagline, or even the font used.

The key is to make branding unique, memorable, and eye-catching.

Once you have your name, logo, and colors picked out, then it's time to use your brand image on EVERYTHING:

  • Website
  • Uniforms (e.g. shirts and hats)
  • Vehicles (e.g. truck wraps)
  • Social Media (e.g. Facebook business page)
  • Marketing (e.g. any ads should contain the business name, logo, and company colors)

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4. Licensing, Registration, and Certification

Pest control is regulated in each state. Check with your state’s laws before starting your pest control business.

For example, there may be several federal, state, and county licensing, registration, and certification processes you’ll need to complete before operating.

Remember, you’re dealing with potent chemicals, which usually require some red tape.

From the EPA website:

Federal law requires any person who applies or supervises the use of restricted use pesticides (RUPs) to be certified in accordance with EPA regulations and state, territorial, and tribal laws. Pesticide applicators must know how to apply RUPs properly and effectively.  

In addition, many states require ALL commercial applicators to be certified - not just those using RUPs.

Be sure to check with your state laws on the legal requirements. Plus, you may be able to find certification courses through your state’s Department of Agriculture.

5. Protect Your Pest Control Business With Insurance

Consider purchasing insurance when starting your pest control business.

What if you damage a client’s property, stain an area with chemicals, or miss something altogether?

Insurance is vital in backing you up so you don’t have to pay everything out of pocket.

Being that you’ll probably hire a few employees along the way, don't forget to look into worker’s compensation and auto insurance as well. And don’t forget to make sure any new employees are certified to apply chemicals in your state.

As always, research your insurance options and choose the path that’s right for you.

6. Open a Business Checking Account

Before you start purchasing equipment for your pest control business or collecting any money for jobs, it's important to open a checking account for your business.

Keep in mind, it's NEVER a good idea to use a personal account! Plus, co-mingling these funds can cause tax issues later on down the road.

Additionally, you’ll get several perks from opening a business account, such as account protection and lines of credit.

7. Choose the Right Pest Control Equipment

Once you have your business account established, it's time to consider purchasing the best pest control equipment for your daily operations.

Think about things like:

  • Chemicals
  • Chemical applicators
  • Traps, cages, and other storage compartments
  • A reliable truck with adequate space for supplies and equipment
  • Safety equipment (gloves, boots, long sleeves and pants, respirators, etc.)

Also, don’t forget the office equipment! You’ll need a solid laptop and printer, plus a great pest control software, like Service Autopilot, to automate everyday tasks.

Automations is the  #1 way to follow up  with clients. If you’re not using it, your business might still be successful - but it won’t grow. 

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In Service Autopilot, our automations send emails and texts to:​

Every lead after an estimate is completed
Clients after their property has been serviced​
Remind leads and clients to send you customer feedback​
Update outdated or declined payment information​
Inform them when a service can’t be completed due to unforeseen circumstances (i.e. weather)​
Remind them of maintenance tips (i.e. putting a cover on the outdoor faucet before the winter)​
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8. Identify Your Ideal Client

When thinking about your ideal client, you’ll want to uncover their biggest pain points.

For example, what’s their biggest gripe when it comes to bugs, critters, and varmints?

After all, you’ll more than likely be faced with the same types of critters and pests causing similar problems throughout your area.

Think about the needs of your clients. This will help you develop a client persona around your ideal client.

Using this client persona, you can identify things like:

  • Who they are
  • What they need
  • Why they need your services

If you currently own a service company, such as a lawn care and landscaping business, then tap into that clientele and upsell them on pest control services.

Keep in mind, the best clients are usually:

  • Businesses
  • Property owners
  • Government offices
  • Apartment complexes
  • Property investors who maintain several units

Plus, the more contracts you can sign vs. one-time services, the better off you’ll be in the long run.

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How to Find Your First Clients

If you’re adding pest control services to an existing business, then this one’s a no-brainer. Start marketing your new service to existing clients.

However, if you’re starting a pest control business from scratch, you’ll have to dig in and find your first few clients.

  • Develop a social media and web presence.
  • Start with family and friends, then ask for referrals.
  • Spread the word through social networks (like churches and recreational sports).

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9. Hire Your First Pest Control Employee

Wondering if it's time to hire an employee? Check out these statements below:

  • I’m working more exhaustive hours now that my client list has picked up.
  • I’m turning down jobs because I don’t have enough time to do them.
  • Someone was helping me, but they quit.
  • A friend or maybe part-time employee is helping me, but he/she is burning out… FAST.
  • I’m constantly out in the field instead of focusing on growing my business (i.e. marketing, sales, etc.)
  • I’m missing calls because I’m too busy, and it’s costing me money.

If any of those rings true, it is time to grow. When you do hire an employee, make sure your employees are certified according to the Federal EPA laws and State laws governing your area.

So now that you need to add employees, it is time to get started. Here are a few hiring tips you can use to find the right employees.

You can find employees by posting ads online, using print ads and even through organic and paid social media.

Pre-screen candidates before you invite them to an in-person interview. This helps save you some time and lets you find out if they are qualified and learn about their past job experience.

When conducting in-person interviews be sure to ask in-depth questions that give you an insight into their character and work ethic. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • “Why do you want to leave your current job?”
  • "Did you ever have a situation where a customer was wrong or upset you - how did you handle it?”
  • "What makes you different from the other people applying for this job?”
  • "Pitch me an upsell on a pest control job.”
  • “Could you give me some references?” (2 previous jobs, 2 personal)

10. A Quick Note About Networking

Consider building relationships with lawyers, bookkeepers, accountants, human resources professionals, and more.

Without fail, you’re going to have questions in one of these areas sooner rather than later.

It’s best to consult a professional, rather than try to forge through these delicate matters on your own.

Not sure where to meet those kinds of people? Go where they already are. Think about places in your community that have a network of people already built in. Here are just a few examples:

  • Chamber of commerce
  • City council and PTA meetings
  • Local groups (sports or volunteer)
  • Churches

Building relationships within the context of the groups above makes it a lot easier to network and build trust instead of just passing out business cards at a mixer.

BONUS: Use the Best Pest Control Software to Build a Strong Foundation

As you begin your journey of starting a pest control business, it’s important you build a strong foundation by choosing the best pest control software.

When you choose Service Autopilot, you can put your business’ growth on autopilot by automating everyday tasks:

  • Custom forms
  • Instant invoicing
  • Chemical tracking
  • Automatic routing
  • Same-day payments
  • Anywhere estimates
  • Marketing made simple

See for yourself how Service Autopilot will change your life and open a world of endless possibilities for sustainable, scalable business growth.

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How to Start a Pest Control Business With Lasting Success

Finally, you know how to start a pest control business that's successful from the start.

Use these expert tips to help you start your pest control business with:

  • The right services
  • A head start against the competition
  • Marketing, hiring, streamlining operations and more! .

Now, you can kick off in the right direction and make starting your pest control business a lot easier!


Related: How to Price Your Pest Control Services


Originally published March 5, 2019 7:00 AM, updated Apr 28, 2022

Lisa Marino

Lisa Marino is the Sr. Marketing Director for Service Autopilot. She uses her 17+ years in direct marketing, sales, and product development to push entrepreneurs beyond their limits. She's passionate about helping others grow their businesses through time-tested marketing techniques. When not writing, you can find her belting out a mean Stevie Nicks at a local karaoke night.
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