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Pest control: Business tips for your winter downtime

GorillaDesk Staff

pest control business tips for winter downtime

When the snow flies, your cash flow freezes and your teeth may chatter — not from the cold but from the fear of losing your best pest control techs as they sit drumming their thumbs. They’ve cleaned their sprayer nozzles five thousand times and written so many Google ads they have carpal tunnel. It’s time to add some winter services.

In the cold season, dozens of types of pests enter a state of dormancy. Frustratingly, your bills and expenses stay active, putting a one-two punch on your revenue. (If only bills could hibernate in the winter like groundhogs or cluster flies.)

Thankfully, you don’t have to reinvent the seasonal wheel. Plenty of pest control businesses before you have weathered the winter chill just fine with added offerings that can shake the ice off your checking account.

Here are the top winter moneymakers to add a little cheer to your bottom line:

Some initial tips to keep in mind:

Before we get started with our list of seasonal tips for pest control businesses, a few bits of friendly advice: Don’t discount your offerings, don’t overdo it, and check your systems.

Don’t discount

It’s tempting to slash your prices when nobody’s buying, but there are two main problems with this approach. First, your expenses stay the same size. You’ll find yourself hustling at your summer energy level, but your profits will assume the dying cockroach position. Second, you’ll spend twice as much effort on marketing and reap diminishing returns. Remember: it’s easier to surf a wave than storm a beachhead.

Don’t overdo it

When your bank account makes a giant sucking sound, it can spur you to take on work like a woodchuck hoarding for the lean season. Resist. If you fail, you’ll have spent yourself (and a monster slice of your resources) on nothing. Even if you succeed, you’ll have another problem: You’ll be swamped with non-pest-control work when the busy season returns. So take it easy; take it slow.

Check your systems

Make sure you’re set up to handle any new business you take on, and consider the extra training, equipment, and insurance you may need. Your business insurance might cover you for pest control, but it might not extend to tree services or pool winterization.

Best pest control services for winter

Without further preamble, here are the top services for pest control businesses to sell in the winter, with the highest profit margins and the least barriers to entry.

1. Get more commercial contracts

One of the easiest ways to keep the payments coming in winter is to go after a few commercial contracts needing monthly service year-round. Think about sending out some flyers, business cards, or emails to:

  • Restaurants
  • Warehouses
  • Factories
  • Office buildings
  • Multi-unit complexes and managed properties

Regular commercial contracts are nice work for pest control pros in the winter because you’re already set up to handle them. You don’t have to learn a new skill, hire new people, or buy new equipment. To get them, do a little research on how to write commercial bids and find a way to network with local business leaders, such as industry meetups, Chamber of Commerce events, or local business groups.

2. Preventive service

This is another one you don’t have to take classes for, or buy new tools for. Offer preventive treatments to get homes off on the right foot starting in spring. You can sell this one with a flier or email offering a “head start on April ants.” You can couple your offer with a holiday greeting card to increase your open rates.

3. Yard cleanout

Does your lawn get messy in the fall? Our does, too, and we never have time to clean it. In fact, 41% of Americans don’t have time to do the nitty gritty on their lawns. So when the leaves pile up, and the brush pile they built over the summer starts to look like something a monster beaver might move into, bone up on your flier-sending skills.

4. Christmas lights

Hanging holiday decorations is a favorite winter service for thousands of pest control businesses around the country. In the US, everybody wants to out-jones the Joneses, but nobody has the time to play Clark Griswold on the gables. You don’t have to stuff a warehouse with mini lights either — there are good Christmas light service franchise opportunities in almost every state, including sunny Florida and tropical Hawaii. You already have the trucks, ladders, and personnel. All you need is the ready-made marketing and the supplies.

One of the best things about this winter service is that it’s limited, with clearly defined start and end dates. You won’t have to worry about jobs bleeding into your busy season. 

5. Tree spraying

You can do tree service to make extra money in the winter — pruning, trimming, and removal — but those can interfere with your busy pest control season. Rather than gum up your main line of work with a second business, consider adding the seasonal revenue of tree spraying in the fall and winter months.

Tree spraying for browntail moths or ash borers dovetails nicely with summer pest control since you can start it in the autumn when many types of pests go dormant. Consider getting some training in the local tree and shrub pests and the equipment and treatment methods to combat them best.

6. Snow removal

In northern states, snowblowing, plowing, and shoveling can be nice puzzle pieces to complete your yearly income picture. If you have a hardy truck like an F-350 or a Ram 2500, you can add a plow for $2,000 to $4,000. Shoveling walks and roofs is even cheaper, if more physically demanding. It’s especially important to check your business insurance policy with snow removal though, since the risk of injury and property damage are greater.

7. Wildlife exclusion

Finding and sealing entry points and installing fencing is high-margin work, and it can fit well into your slow months. We don’t recommend bridging from exclusion to removal unless you’re ready to add year-round removal services. There are several reasons wildlife removal doesn’t make a good winter add-on, including added training, expertise, and regulations. It also takes a lot longer to battle bats vs. bed bugs, and educating customers about the difference takes some doing.

8. Window cleaning

Most property owners find their windows get a little grungy by September and October, but they don’t necessarily have extra time to clean them. Your trucks and ladders will serve you well here, and with some buckets, squeegees, and glass cleaner, you can keep your crews working straight through Halloween.

Non-revenue-generating winter tasks

Though the options below won’t pad your bank balance, they’ll use downtime hours well. Consider using slow periods to train your crews, keep your equipment in shape, or do a little maintenance on your soul.

Continuing education

In the winter, you and your team can add new skills, build your network, get ideas for new services, and energize your love of the business with a little training. American Pest CEUs and CEUSchool offer classes in dozens of states, and most states have their specific trainings.

Equipment maintenance

Now is the time to check your sprayers, ladders, and other gear. Tear down all your equipment and clean your nozzles, and lines. Replace worn parts like gaskets, o-rings, and hoses, and order any equipment you’ll need for next season if you can get it at a discount. You can also do a little maintenance on your marketing system by evaluating your ads, emails, fliers, and performance, and try out new software, such as pest control management software.

Cancun!

This may go without saying, but you work hard, and you’re your company’s most important piece of equipment. Don’t write off the benefit of some toes–in-the-sand time, or if you’re not into the salt life, look around at destination ski resorts or polar cruises.

Streamline your business

One of the best ways to spend downtime is by prepping for the busy season. Use your slow days by thinking about how your business could be more efficient and how you could grow your profits. Pest control business software can optimize your scheduling, routing, invoicing, and sales functions so you can spend more time on billable work, and less time on busywork.

GorillaDesk’s pest control software is the highest rated on respected software review sites like Capterra — and for good reason. Designed by pest control professionals to make your life easier, its exceptional customer service and easy-to-learn interface get compliment after compliment from front-line pest control technicians, admins, and sales teams alike.

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