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Looking Into Starting My Own Pest Control Company...questions

 
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Old 01-18-2015, 07:12 PM   #1
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Looking Into Starting My Own Pest Control Company...questions


Hi all, I'm new here and I joined so I could get some advice from others in my line of work. I've been working for a local pest control company for two years and I've learned a lot in that time. I stand by my work and I have excellent customer relations. I often think to myself, "why couldn't I just do this on my own?" I could charge half the price, do better work than most national chains, and still make twice the money I do right now as a $12 an hour employee working 55 hours a week.

There are many things that might stand in my way however, and I was hoping to get some advice from those who have made this kind of switch.

1. Licensing, bonding, insurance... I have no experience with these kinds of things and it just be to cost prohibitive. Can anyone give me rough estimates of what these things cost? I know it varies by region but any knowledge would be helpful.

2. Testing and certification. I have only taken the basic pest control applicators licence here in Indiana. Would I need anything more? I plan on treating mainly for bed bugs, roaches, rodents, ants and bees.

3. Web presence and advertising. I know these are huge but I have no idea what kind of costs are associated with this. I have no knowledge of web design but it's a crucial part any business and it's a must have for me. Anybody have any ballpark estimates for what having a website costs? I would also explore billboards and of course getting myself in local phonebooks.

Any advice on what it takes to make it on my own would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 01-18-2015, 07:15 PM   #2
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Re: Looking Into Starting My Own Pest Control Company...questions


We see questions like this all of the time. Don't you think that if someone could legitimately do the work for half of the price, they would? Competition sets the price. Your $12/hour costs your employer a lot more than that. Two years on the job is not nearly enough time to go out on your own.

You came to the right place however. Read a lot, ask good questions, and keep working hard.

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Old 01-18-2015, 07:47 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply. Perhaps you're right and I'm not ready. You are right about one thing for sure though. It costs my employer a lot more to do the work. They have to pay a hundred employees. They have to put gas in 50 trucks everyday. They have to pay office workers and mechanics, accountants and lawyers.
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Old 01-20-2015, 12:04 PM   #4
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What Warren says is true. Things don't become axiomatic because there isn't any truth in them. It takes 5 years to learn a job. That's one axiom I've heard, there are variations on it, but at 2 years, you're barely past the initial learning curve. You need a few more seasons. Here's another, when you open a business you should have enough money to pay all of your expected bills and make no profit for 2 years. That's a major hurdle for most. I found that to be true. Didn't really make any money the first couple of years. My wife works and I am good at budgeting.

You need to get those things down first.

You need to really think about all the administrative work and overhead that goes into it. You get handed a stack of tickets and go run them. Did you figure out how to get the right printer to use with the software program you chose to work with the appropriate kind of carbon paper to use for tickets? That's already many decisions just to get a ticket printed. It takes more time and work than you think.

And then there's getting customers, and that is much more difficult and takes much longer than you think. It isn't as if you'll be running the same volume of work you do now the day you open up, or after a year, if ever. You can't really, if you are also the guy who is the secretary, web designer, equipment repair man, and the manager who puts in the orders and runs the business. Not to mention all the time and money it takes to comply with taxes.

There's a lot to do and think about before you open a business, and you need to do it first. You're doing the right thing getting into it now and planning it all out ahead of time.

One thing I will suggest is that if you can get to one of the major pest conferences in your area(without your boss or coworkers) you can glean much information from some of the exhibitors.

The real thing to do is to simply call an insurance company and ask them for a roundabout on commercial auto and for general liability at your state's limits. It can vary from area to area, so I don't know what it would be in Indiana. Commercial auto is usually not much more if any than regular insurance with full coverage. General liability is usually less than a thousand a year. A website can be had for as little as $5 a month or so. If you design it. Homestead runs $20 or so and has their design program. There are things like that. Paying someone to make you a website is $1-3k usually. You have to really work to get them to not charge you a ton. Watch out for SEO charges. That's search engine optimization.

Make a spreadsheet and put all your costs down once you discover what they will be.

In Texas, the highest license is a Certified Applicator's, that's what you should have. Usually the information to get a business license is readily available on the state website.

For most people I say if you can find a higher paying company to work for you can get a better deal than if you open your own business. They're hard to find, but there are some out there. One company here pays 33% and he even gives out quite a few cash bonuses. Considering you have everything handed to you that is a good deal.
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Old 02-18-2015, 02:01 PM   #5
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Re: Looking Into Starting My Own Pest Control Company...questions


Buy a theme on themeforest for $40 for your website and set it up the way you need it or pay someone to set it up for you. Don't customize one from scratch, it's a money pit and too many things to go wrong. Find a design you already like and go with that.

Advertising is PPC or you hire someone to do SEO. Get on Google maps at the very least. Good luck.
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Old 02-18-2015, 02:04 PM   #6
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Re: Looking Into Starting My Own Pest Control Company...questions


And 10,000 hrs or 10 years to become an expert.

In this line of work you should get blood tests done regularly by an independent lab.

You could get health insurance quotes for roofing, electrical work, asbestos removal and this line of work
to get an idea of how relatively dangerous this work is.

Some of these chemicals & materials may take years before you get symptoms. Mesothelioma may take 35 years.

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Old 02-18-2015, 04:46 PM   #7
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Re: Looking Into Starting My Own Pest Control Company...questions


3x what you want to make is a good guestimate for what you should be charging. Ie 12 an hour would probably cost the consumer about 36 dollars.

Pest control is heavily dependent on internet sales. Once you are good enough to win at seo/ppc you would probably make a lot more money just being an seo guy.
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Old 02-19-2015, 08:14 PM   #8
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Re: Looking Into Starting My Own Pest Control Company...questions


Insurance companies don't care if you are an exterminator. The chemicals we use aren't that hazardous.
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Old 02-19-2015, 09:02 PM   #9
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Re: Looking Into Starting My Own Pest Control Company...questions


Quote:
Originally Posted by BugmanBCE View Post
You get handed a stack of tickets and go run them. Did you figure out how to get the right printer to use with the software program you chose to work with the appropriate kind of carbon paper to use for tickets?
Getting a stack of tickets and/or a day's worth of work assignments is something that every employee takes for granted. Not so much in the work itself but every step in the process from the customer relationship management system down to showing up at the customer's door equipped with everything you need. Every component of your job was well thought out, developed, and tested long before you ever got hired. Yet a lot of us think that all you need is a truck, a uniform, and a spray bottle to be in business.

So having said that, I recommend that you work your way all the way up to management before going out on your own so that you can see other aspects like how the money is spent and how much it really costs.. and you can learn all of it on their dime.
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Old 02-19-2015, 09:26 PM   #10
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Re: Looking Into Starting My Own Pest Control Company...questions


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Getting a stack of tickets and/or a day's worth of work assignments is something that every employee takes for granted. Not so much in the work itself but every step in the process from the customer relationship management system down to showing up at the customer's door equipped with everything you need. Every component of your job was well thought out, developed, and tested long before you ever got hired. Yet a lot of us think that all you need is a truck, a uniform, and a spray bottle to be in business.

So having said that, I recommend that you work your way all the way up to management before going out on your own so that you can see other aspects like how the money is spent and how much it really costs.. and you can learn all of it on their dime.
Yes, exactly. There is just a ton more stuff that goes into it. Most techs don't even schedule their own work, that's an hour's worth of work you have to do every day when you run your own shop. It happens when you get home at night. That isn't a fun part of the job, at all. Being able to just be off when you get home would be nice.

Also, if you get to management, you learn how to deal with a state inspection. What paperwork you need and all of the endless little details you have to get right. You also learn how to file it and what requirements there are.
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Old 02-20-2015, 07:27 PM   #11
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Insurance companies don't care if you are an exterminator. The chemicals we use aren't that hazardous.
?
One guy who came out to do termites told me he has regular blood tests.
http://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/whs/pdf/hs8.pdf
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Old 02-20-2015, 08:54 PM   #12
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The headline:
Quote:
Rules for Medical Care When Handlers Use Organophosphates and Carbamates
We don't use those. They're ok to spray on your food, but not your yard. Ok, that was sarcasm. Or was it?

Anyway, it's always the same thing, and I'm not blaming you, but you turn on the tv and they start talking about pesticides and are talking about organophosphates 100% of the time.

There may be a few products that do have such ingredients, or exterminators who buy stuff at a retail big box store, e.g., Lowe's, Home Depot, etc, instead of using professional products, but by and large, all of those products have either been banned or pulled for use in pest control. The products that do have such ingredients are infrequently used, and aren't just "sprays".

I've never heard of an exterminator getting regular blood tests these days. They should have back in the day, but that wasn't the hip thing to do then. Same thing with masks for firefighters.
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Old 02-20-2015, 09:14 PM   #13
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We rarely hear about any sort of a problem at all. Usually, if it happens, it's a case of severe negligence in one way or another.
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Old 04-24-2015, 11:41 AM   #14
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Re: Looking Into Starting My Own Pest Control Company...questions


This company branch is not easy to acquire the operating permits to work according to the authorities with toxic products for both people and for pets, before this situation organs hinder the release of the license, but if you have willpower and a lot of guts for sure you will succeed in getting the documentation. The advertising on the internet more specific on google is not interesting to anyone who is now starting his own business, the advertisements have very high price mainly in the sponsored links goolge or even bing. I advise you to start spreading by word of mouth, printed marketing (newspapers and magazines) and even posters to distribute in homes and businesses. Hope this helps.

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Old 04-24-2015, 11:54 AM   #15
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Re: Looking Into Starting My Own Pest Control Company...questions


, "why couldn't I just do this on my own?" I could charge half the price, do better work than most national chains, and still make twice the money I do right now as a $12 an hour employee working 55 hours a week.

You have made three wrong statements in one sentence .I would rethink this.
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Old 04-24-2015, 06:37 PM   #16
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The price you charge vs. the profit you make
is a curved line on a graph and I've only seen one book that shows to construct this line.

It's not so simple. And it changes with time.
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Old 04-25-2015, 10:23 AM   #17
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Re: Looking Into Starting My Own Pest Control Company...questions


Quote:
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The price you charge vs. the profit you make
is a curved line on a graph and I've only seen one book that shows to construct this line.

It's not so simple. And it changes with time.
There are so many variables its difficult to know how much you actually are making, particularily when you factor in taxes and real estate.
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Old 04-26-2015, 08:49 AM   #18
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There are so many variables its difficult to know how much you actually are making, particularily when you factor in taxes and real estate.
Well, once you factor in taxes it isn't just difficult, it's practically impossible. I've been doing my taxes for years now and still don't really have a good handle on it. I am more confused after I do my taxes about how much I made than I am before.
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Old 04-26-2015, 09:02 AM   #19
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Comparisons between a good local pest control company and a national pest control company aren't relevant. There is little similarity. It's almost like two different industries.

Doing "better" work won't cut it. I provide 400 times the value, I would try to start by doing at least 100 times the work.
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Old 04-26-2015, 03:43 PM   #20
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I was doing an initial service for a bar and grill this week that I picked up after a national company had really screwed it up and roaches were everywhere. I've picked up many this way, some have had as many as 8 other companies out, and I'm always the last one, I solve their problems and they stick with me. The problem with being the little guy is that these are the type of customers you get. Real people with actual problems. You have to work for your money. You can't go out and do 25 services a day, the national companies have all of the people who put up with that kind of service. There are people who call national companies and there are people who call local companies. Most are the former. Unfortunately they are also usually the easiest customers to deal with, and the ones willing to pay the most. They don't even have to actually do anything at these people's houses(and usually don't), and the customer is happy. It's the placebo effect, a very well known phenomenon in pest control. People who call me are very rarely this type of person.

The business acumen you may think you have for pest control at a national company means nothing when you start your own local pest control business. I only pick up a few residential customers from the national companies. Those people rarely call local companies. It isn't that they stick with them either, they call another Megacorp. The cancel rates at the big companies are astronomical. They don't mind. Their mentality is that they get rid of all the hard people and are left with the easy money. Which is actually good policy for them. They need consistency and since their techs are going to be gone soon if they depended on having quality employees apply reasonable amounts of appropriate products and do good work they'd have big troubles.

The pest control megacorps know that we are not their competition. I've heard it directly out of their mouths, and they're right.

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