Besides electricity and indoor plumbing, pest control is one of the greatest advances to hit civilization in the past century or so. The ability to control our indoor environments at home or in the workplace is a hallmark of the modern world. Keeping pests at bay is a never-ending battle, as many a homeowner has discovered. Given the relatively inelastic demand for pest control services, starting a pest extermination business on the side can yield surprising dividends and even become a full-time job if you’re willing to go all the way.
First things first, you’ll need to figure out what kind of pest control business you’ll be running. You can choose to specialize in termites, spiders, rodents, snakes or a combination of many nuisances. If you’d like to really stand apart from the competition, choose a specialty niche that’s in vogue like environmentally-friendly pest control. In addition, it’s important to decide on the scope and scale of your business before you take out any loans or buy a lot of expensive equipment. Take into account the most common pest threats in your area as well when devising your scheme.
The most important step on your path to becoming a pest control entrepreneur is to get licensed. You’ll need to take an exam and pay a non-refundable fee. The application fee costs a few hundred dollars while the certification exam starts at $50 or so. You’ll need insurance coverage in the vicinity of $100,000 for property damage and $300,000 or so in bodily injury. Contact your state’s Department of Agriculture for more specifics. Also, be sure to get a business license for tax purposes.
Once you’ve cleared all of the necessary regulatory and bureaucratic hurdles, you can go bargain-hunting for supplies. Start-up costs can be as low as $10,000 or less or as high as $50,000 depending on how you want to go about it. You’ll need vacuums, fogging equipment, foamers, sprayers, safety gear and more. A commercial foamer or sprayer will cost roughly $200 per unit, so shop around for deals on the web. As for respirators and apparel, you’re looking at a minimum of several hundred dollars for quality equipment.
As with any side business at the outset, you should begin by reaching out to friends, family and colleagues to get your first paying gigs. Try offering your services to community organizations such as churches, Rotary Clubs, municipal bodies and non-profits. You’ll get plenty of free, organic word-of-mouth advertising for the same amount of work as a commercial job while being paid the same. If you’d like to increase your credibility a bit, get Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certification to demonstrate your professionalism and dedication to your craft.Spreading the Word & Expanding
Marketing a small business has never been easier thanks to social media and the Internet at large. Before you go digital, be sure to maintain a strong, grassroots offline presence via flyers and business cards. At the same time, go online and create social media profiles on major sites like Google+, Yelp and Facebook to better promote your services throughout a wider geographical area. Join the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) and network with other members to get more technical training, swap business contacts and learn the ropes of the industry.Pest Control for the Long Haul
As you’ve no doubt gathered by now, pest control isn’t exactly the easiest business to break into. It takes a decent amount of capital input, a lot of paperwork and a moderate level of technical know-how to succeed. By starting a pest control company as a side business, you can get acquainted with the industry while making money and potentially lucrative future business connections. If you’re willing to negotiate the challenges inherent in getting started with pest control, you’ll never have to worry about a lack of demand for your services.