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Articles | Marketing

How to get your pest control business ready for the busy season

GorillaDesk Staff

Pest Control in Busy Season

Hopefully you spent a little time in Punta Cana or Key West this winter, skied a million tree runs, and you’re tanned, rested, and ready. Bring on the fire ants and mosquitoes, right? But before you roll out your trucks, spend some time ramping up. You’ll create a happier pest control busy season for you and your team.

The smoothest pest control businesses (the ones with the clean uniforms and the techs who always seem unhurried) don’t get to this point by accident. They’re streamlined because they start their prep in February. (Yes, February.)

This pest control busy season checklist gives you all the tips you need on getting your equipment, staff, and customers in line for the inevitable breakdowns, accidents, and illnesses you’ll face.

Pest Control in Busy Season

1. Get your equipment ready

Here’s a nightmare scenario for you:

You’re halfway through your busiest month of the year, and your transmission blows. It’ll take your mechanic two hours to fix it, but six weeks to get the actuator in stock. We’ve all been there.

Preparing your equipment for your busy pest control season isn’t just a good idea;  your company’s first line of defense against disaster.

So in midwinter — 

  • Regroup: Have your teams meet in the parking lot and unload their trucks. Use checklists to note anything that’s worn or broken. Inspect your PPE as well as technical gear, and jot down anything you’ll need.
  • Reorder: Did you learn you’re running low on Demand CS? Is one of your sprayers ready for the transfer station? Replenish any parts or supplies before your phone starts ringing in the spring.
  • Maintain: Failure to do upkeep on equipment will cost you in the summer if you don’t address it. Service your vehicles and gear, repairing and replacing as needed.
  • Reorient: Have your team read all the labels on any buckets, bags, and bottles they haven’t used since October. They may find more than a few surprises.

Get your equipment ready

2. Get your team ready

Just like equipment, teams wear out, but if anything, your people are even more important to your business. Ideally, you’ll start the season with an industrious, experienced group, hungry to help customers. Here are three things to focus on:

Train them

Take inventory of where your team is now, vs. where you’d like them on April Fool’s Day. Make sure their licensing is up to date, including certifications for any new services you want to offer. Consider both skills-based training and safety training, like a class in IPM or pesticide safety from NPMA.

Do annual reviews

Not just a smart idea, annual reviews can engage your admin, sales team, and field techs, which can keep them around longer and make them more productive. Think about the good and the bad (what they’re doing well vs. areas for improvement) and a goal before you start. Then, consider ways to help them reach it. For example, if they often clash with customers, find an online class in customer service.

Then, explain the purpose of the review — to help them succeed in their job. The Harvard Business Review has a good guide to handling employee reviews.

Recharge

Three or four months past Angry August, your team’s energy levels are pushing zero, and it may take more than a twenty-minute pep talk to recharge them. If it’s in your budget, take them to a conference. Most pest control pros will get more mileage from webinars, continuing ed classes, or local talks or meetups.

Pro Tip: One way of getting ready for the busy season is by zapping your off season. Learn to keep your revenue flowing with our guide: Pest control: What to do in winter

How to get your pest control business ready for the busy season

3. Get your customers ready

Two problems:

  1. Seventeen customers call you on April 5, and all of them need you to come to their house yesterday.
  2. You lose 30% of your old customers every winter, fight to add more each spring, and then get so swamped in summer you can’t breathe.

According to Forbes, it costs five times more to get a new customer than to keep an old one. And feast-or-famine cycles can make your business feel like it has mood swings. You can retain more of your precious customer base (and spread some of your summer work to other months) by doing indoor inspections and treatments in the off season.

Keep communication lines open with your customers in the winter by offering to inspect attics, crawlspaces, and basements, and treat:

  • Spiders
  • Rodents
  • Ants
  • Cluster flies
  • Asia ladybugs
  • Mice and rats

Find those termite mud tubes or ant trails now, and you’ll set your clients up for a peaceful spring. You’ll also stay top-of-mind when pests come back in full strength.

Get your customers ready

4. Set goals

It’s the nature of the beast: pest control is a seat-of-the-pants business — which is fine, but it can lead to five years slipping by with the same clutter and inefficient processes. Instead, each winter can be an opportunity to make next summer better than the one before.

So, set goals. Most PMPs report they don’t budget their money, and aren’t intentional enough about guiding their business in the right direction. Devote some midwinter hours to:

  • Profit: How much profit do you make now? How much would you like to make? Assess your current numbers, and set a goal for next season.
  • Budget: Create a business budget, with about 10% for advertising, and an appropriate amount for hiring, training, and other needs.
  • Growth: Would you like to offer any new services this summer? Sit down with a spreadsheet and brainstorm the potential costs and revenue. Then, decide which offerings are worth your time.
  • Sanity: Research by the American Psychological association found 68% of employees who take vacations feel more energized and motivated. Even a two-day break in late July can open the pressure-relief valve on your business.

Setting goals for your Pest Control Business

5. Get more clients

You don’t want field crews pressure-washing trucks and doing make-work jobs during the busy season. When it’s slow, get more clients by doubling down on marketing and sales.

  • Set clear marketing goals: Set up a target you can aim for. Do you want to generate a certain number of leads per month, or get a set number of new customers?
    • Choose the right channels: A high-converting website, paid ads, Google ads, Facebook ads, local SEO, and email marketing are all good ways to generate new business. So are door-to-door flyers, referral programs, and asking for customer reviews. Focus on the ones most likely to put new customers in touch with you.
  • Appeal to self interest: In your marketing content, focus on the benefits you offer to your customers. If you have exceptional customer service, a strong track record, or you use all-natural treatments, highlight it in your marketing.

See more marketing advice in our guide: Pest control marketing: Let’s make that phone ring

Get More Clients

6. Make your business more profitable

Your next pest control busy season doesn’t have to feel as stressful and pinched as your last one. In the winter, you can take a few steps to streamline your business so it runs smoother and earns more profit.

Ask

Talk to your admin, sales team, and field service techs about their pain points and ideas for improvement. Toyota’s Shigeo Shingo famously said businesses can make things “easier, better, faster, and cheaper” by getting ideas from the people who do the actual work.

Assess

In February, ask your accountant to generate a P&L statement for you. Then, do a YouTube search for “How to read P&L” and watch at least one of the results. You’ll get a bird’s-eye view of where your money goes. Next, do yourself a massive favor and read the book Profit First. You can thank us with cash.

Change

Put new ideas into action, from small ones like templating your frequent notes to bigger ones, like putting more of your budget into ads or training.

Pro Tip: See our guide to making your pest control business more profitable for a more detailed approach.

7. Get ready with field service software

Even a simple step like using field-service software can transform your pest control business. When the busy season hits, you’ll be ready with real-time scheduling, routing, and invoicing tools that put all your team members on the same page. You’ll spend less time on busywork and more on work your customers will pay for. This is such a small, inexpensive change, but it can create a more streamlined, calm business — orders of magnitude more profitable.

GorillaDesk is the highest-rated pest control software on top review sites like Capterra for good reason. Our exemplary customer service chats with you in three minutes on average, and our interface is legendary for its ease of use and nitty gritty power. Try GorillaDesk for free.

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