The Smart Service Dispatch

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June 20, 2019

 

How to Handle Periods of Feast and Famine as a Pest Control Service Provider

Can you survive a few months of downtime?

Because insects and critters tend to flourish in the summer and hibernate or migrate during the winter, interest in pest control services ebbs and and flows. This makes for a tricky business model. How can you keep your income steady throughout the year? And if you can’t keep it steady, how can you handle your finances during the “feast” to get you through the “famine”? 

As a pest control company, the key to keeping a steady baseline of work throughout winter involves offering a wide variety of services (instead of overspecializing), educating your clients on the benefits of winter pest control services, and advertising accordingly.

Think beyond insects.

First, you need to adjust your own mindset. Most pest control business owners can’t make a living by simply spraying insecticides. Broaden your definition of “pests” to include all unwanted critters, even the feathery or fluffy kinds. 

Raccoons, squirrels, possums, bats, mice, rats, birds and even snakes all agree that our homes make delightfully warm shelters in the winter. However, very few people appreciate their company or the destruction and smells they leave behind. As soon as homeowners detect their presence, your phone will ring—if you’ve advertised correctly. 

But before we discuss the issue of advertising, stop for a minute and think about whether you’re equipped to expand your services. Do you already have experience and/or a license for trapping and removing wildlife? If not, you’ll need to learn safe and effective techniques and familiarize yourself with local ordinances and codes regarding wildlife. 

Offer preventative services in the winter.

Winter represents the perfect time to jumpstart insect control measures for the year. Many species of insects, including carpenter ants and boxelder bugs, enter a state of dormancy in the winter months, then surprise homeowners with ballooning activity in spring. To avoid a spring resurgence, encourage your clients to spray in the winter. This prevents pests from multiplying before anyone notices them. 

Keeping in mind the broader definition of “pest,” you can also offer “winterization” services to discourage other critters from entering attics, vents, crawl spaces, the area under the porch, etc. Close up obvious entry points while also paying close attention to tiny cracks or holes. These tend to occur in mortar or at the access points for pipes and wires. Doors and windows should have tight seals as well. Clean up clutter or wood piles located near the home, as these can encourage rodents to make nests and venture into the home for food.

Advertise Your Winter Services

As a business owner, you should always have an advertising and marketing strategy. You know this industry better than your clients, so let them know what they need to be doing this time of year with educational marketing. For example, very few people think about taking preventative measures to keep out rodents, but you can inform them of this need and that you offer such a service.

Online and print advertisements both represent effective options for advertising your pest control business. If you have the budget, radio and television ads could work too. If you give clients promotional materials like refrigerator magnets, make sure it mentions winter care and critter removal among your service offerings.

Maintain a very clear view of your budget.

The above tips will prove helpful when you already have an established business with solid marketing and advertising campaigns. But what can you do when not many people know about you—even during the summer months?

Until you have the ability to attract clients every month of the year, you need to implement some smart financial habits. The first includes setting a business budget that lays out exactly what you need to earn each week in order to stay afloat. Start by calculating your yearly expenses, then break them down month by month and week by week. 

Make sure you also take into account your personal budget. How much profit do you need in order to remain comfortable with your personal expenses? Know the absolute minimum you need each week to get by. When you make extra money one week, put it into savings to create a cushion. 

Some people find it helpful to physically organize their money. Consider withdrawing enough money to last you for one week without pay and securely storing it in an envelope in a home safe. When you have another week’s worth saved up, withdraw it and put it in a second envelope. 

If you do this, when times get tough and your business enters “famine” mode, you have your “summer leftovers” to dip into. Knowing how many envelopes you have left gives you a quick visual of how long you can last. When you begin to start using the money from your envelopes, you know it’s time to get aggressive about marketing and advertising. In fact, dedicate any time slots not booked by clients to addressing this question: “How can I get more clients?” 

Every business experiences ups and downs, but if you stick to the course, you can weather them easier. Keep at it!

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