Despite what your preferred pesticide brand may try to convince you, getting rid of your pests by yourself is not always an easy or straightforward a task. Eradicating these pests also tends to become even more difficult as the size of the affected premises increases. That’s the reason why pest control has become a thriving and lucrative line of business all around the world as both homeowners and organisations have discovered that in many cases, getting rid of pests is a task best left to professionals. Pest control services are very much in demand by residential homeowners, hotels, schools, government buildings, colleges, food distributors, warehouses, stores, food processors and farms.
The first step in establishing any business venture is to conduct more research on that line of business, its market size i.e. its lucrativeness and the number of resources it requires. After this, you can then start doing your planning which you can document in the form of anything ranging from a simple to-do list to a more extensive, multipage, formal business plan.
Choose a target market
I earlier listed some of the possible customers of a pest control/fumigation service. Unfortunately, it is not always a good business strategy to try to cater to every one of these, much less so if you are just starting up. You can choose a limited target market based on your resources, your expertise, your interests, that market’s revenue potential etc. For example, while offering your services exclusively to residential homeowners might constrain the amount of money you can get from anyone job, such a market demands way fewer resources than going after clients who own larger structures and buildings. Delivering your services in food processing environments may also require more expertise since most of the chemicals in use will be toxic and so may need expert handling.
Calculate your starting up and on-going costs
Starting a business requires money and like in all situations where it has to be spent, something resembling a budget is almost always recommended. As someone who wants to start a business, you need to have an idea of how much money will be required, not only to get started but to also continue operating. Startup costs will go toward things like vehicles, sprayers, safety equipment and clothing. On-going expenses which you also have to account for beforehand encompass the costs of rent, utilities, chemicals, labour, marketing, insurance etc.
How much to charge
Deciding upon the right price for your services is easier once you know how much starting and running the business will cost you. Coming up with prices involves several considerations which include your target customer’s average income, your expenses and your desired profit margins. For the most part, pricing is more of an art than a science so you may have to conduct a little bit of a trial and error exercise before you are satisfied.
Choose a name
Choosing a name for your company is not as easy as it sounds. Some prefer to name their companies after themselves but, alas, not every one of us has a name that rolls off the tongue. Descriptive names are the most common preference but you must resist the urge to go overboard and end up using a name which may be too quirky for some potential clients to handle—Bug Destroyer (PVT) Ltd will look far better on a can of insecticide than it will on your business card.
Register your business
Resist taking a cue from your local grocery store and start operating an unregistered business. This will severely limit your reach and reputation. Being registered allows you to approach other companies and organisations for their business. Most of these people will never give an unregistered business operator the time of day. Even a lot of residential clients will prefer the services of a legitimate business after all the job entails that you enter their private homes.
In the age of the internet, it is tempting to think that you can research and teach yourself anything you wish. Unfortunately, some of the important information can slip between the cracks, which can be quite fatal for someone working with toxic chemicals, a lot of which also happens to be flammable or even downright explosive. Even in this day and age, the experience is still the best teacher. To obtain this experience for your company, you can hire an experienced pest control technician or you can apprentice/intern yourself or an employee at another pest control company.
Set up shop
After all, this is done, you can then hire employees, find a building to rent, fit and furnish the said building, buy the required equipment, purchase a vehicle etc. Remember that in choosing a building to operate out of that it will not only serve as an office but also as storage space for pest killing chemicals whose dangerousness cannot be emphasized enough. The safe storage of these is important to protect the rest of the building and all its occupants including yourself. Most of the time a vehicle is not optional; you cannot go around lugging dangerous chemicals in public transportation. While renting space in busy areas such as CBDs will give you much-needed exposure, some might find industrial areas to be more practical. It is always possible to work from home though you might need to take extra care to keep children, pets and domestic animals safe from some of your inventory.
Put your business on the web
Nowadays the internet is increasingly becoming the first place where people go to look for providers of certain services. To get a web presence you can get a website developed, create social media accounts or get your business listed on any of the numerous online directories and classifieds websites.
Comply with the law
In Zimbabwe, every pesticide must be approved and registered with the Pesticides Registration Office. This means that pouncing on a “great deal” and importing something unregistered for use in your operations will get you in a world of trouble. In the same vein of following the law, register for your taxes and find out any other national or local government laws and regulations which your business may be subject to.
Promote your business
Use social media, your website, vehicle signage, business cards, billboards and other advertising methods to alert and remind the world of the existence of your company. When you seal in (or tent) a building for fumigation you can take advantage of the attention and curiosity this draws and stick up an advertising sign right in front. Word of mouth will also gain you a lot of customers, so you must do the best job that you possibly can every time.