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How to Start a Pest Control Business in South Africa

Pest control business is a business that focuses on regulation, management and extermination of different living organisms that are known for being harmful to the general human population. These could be reptiles, cockroaches, bedbugs, termites, and other unwanted creatures that may interfere with the day to day activities in commercial, industrial, agricultural and residential areas.

When pest control services are rendered properly, such organisms are eliminated. When it comes to running a pest control business in South Africa, the first thing you will need to do is a proper research about the business to find out if it is the right kind of business for you.

If you are going to be working directly in the field, then you would have be someone who isn’t skirmish around pests and you would have to have gotten some type of training beforehand. This training would be in the area of chemical use and how to effectively manage pests.

You would need to register your business as a sole proprietorship, private business, Limited Liability Company or whatever else suits your future business plans. Then you would have to register as a tax payer, VAT vendor or any other legal means of paying your taxes. In South Africa, you are also required to register with the cape metropolitan council or district council.

This step is for businesses that intend to employ staff. If you intend to be professional about your business, you may employ from about five to twelve people to assist you in running the business. You would have to register with the department of labor also if you intend to hire staff.

Other licenses and permits you may need could be based on the location you find yourself, so look through the local authorities or agencies for documents you may need to run this business. Training is very important in this business; in fact it is advisable to work for a pest control business for some time to gain some of the necessary experience.

You could also enroll for a course in any of the schools in South Africa currently offering courses in pest control. This is a highly sensitive endeavor and will require tact when it comes to working in places that have little children or even pets that may react to the pest control product in a bad way.

When going into a business like this, it is also wise to factor in the equipment you would have to purchase like Bait Gun, Fumigation Applicators, Generators, Dusters, Heaters, Injections, Insect lights, personal safety equipment, sprayers, tools, foggers, pumps, tanks, treating devices.

And not to mention the products you intend to use, Aerosols, Spray Concentrates, Bait Insecticides, Insect Traps, Rodent and Animal Control Product, Insecticide Granules, Dust Insecticides, Bird Control Products, Insect Growth Regulators. Just like any other business, the pest control business requires proper planning and feasibility study, so be sure to do that before going into this business.

19 Steps to Starting a Pest Control Business in South Africa

1. Understand the Industry

The pest control service has enjoyed growth in recent years due to the increase in pest population. This increase has been as a result of vast availability of food sources for tiny organism and favorable living environments. Increase in the economic activity of the country and an easy access to pest control businesses have also made the industry promising for intending investors.

International tourism has also been sighted as one of the factors giving rise to the demand for pest control operators. The rise in industrial regulators giving no tolerance towards pests has also been a positive factor in pest control service demand. Industrialization is increasing as economic activity continues to be on the rise.

In addition to this, climatic conditions most times help with the rapid multiplication of pest activity, making the service a must in these times. The implementation of current regulations mandating pest control in commercial establishments has also been sighted as a factor that adds more growth to the sector.

This industry can be segmented in to three major compartments which include pests like ants, bedbug, beetle control, bird, cockroaches, mosquitoes, flies, rats, rodent, termites and so on. These have been the most popular of pests generally encountered by people of which termite control appears to be witnessing a higher growth over the predicted period.

The manner of control is the second segment of how this industry is analyzed. There are basically a number of ways to control these pests and some are Chemical control which could further be placed in organic chemicals or inorganic chemicals.

Other manners of control are the physical approach to handling pest infestation, the Biological approach and various others which include radiation or environmental control measures. Chemical control is expected to expand over the predicted period above the other methods of providing control.

The third segment is the consumers who may need such a service, few of these are Commercial Establishments, Industrial Establishments, Residential Areas, Livestock farming, Crop farming and others like Transportation and so forth.

The Agricultural segment which includes both the livestock farming and crop farming is predicted to increase in its demand for pest control services. Statistically on a global scale, the value of the pest control market has been put above $12bn USD. This was at 2016 and it is projected to reach above $17bn by 2023, growing at a CAGR of above 5% from 2017.

A few of the major threats to this industry are the method of application for most of these pest control products. These products may be poisonous to certain pets or even adults with certain allergic conditions. This coupled with the rate of untrained pest control operators out there, can make this service a dangerous one. So before going into such a business, make sure you and your crew are well trained.

2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies

  • Demographics and Psychographics

The people who will need the services of a pest control service provider could cover a large scope of prospects. Firstly, we have the corporate world with companies needing a pest free environment to operate from; the industrial establishments are also a promising set of prospects to look into.

Most businesses like restaurants and health facilities need their environment safe from pests that can cause great problems for people. Apart from the health and hygiene implications, regulating bodies demand that establishments within these sectors be up to standard when it comes to cleanliness.

Governmental bodies and the likes would also need the services of a pest control business; farmers need these services as well. Boarding and regular schools need this service as large numbers of people frequent the area. This is also the case with pleasure parks and camp grounds where people of all walks of life come to enjoy themselves.

The demographic and psychographic composition of those who need the services of pest control companies cut across businesses and households hence the demographic composition of a pest control services company is all encompassing. The truth is that when it comes to pest control, there is indeed a wide range of available customers.

Households, estates and communities also need the services of a pest control specialist. Generally when it comes to a business like this, the demographics and psychographics cover a very large scale of prospects. Where ever people gather regularly for one reason or another can be a place where they may need pest control services, a few of the specifics mentioned above provides a good spectrum for any aspiring entrepreneur to choose from.

3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On

Usually a pest control business would want to do all the activities involved in pest control; that is why it may be difficult developing a particular niche for you in this industry. However as one aspiring to go into this type of business, you may want to specialize in one of few areas like Lawn Care, Insect control, Rodent extermination, Rodent Control, Bird Proofing, Termite control, Pest control in agricultural circles, mosquito control, fumigation services and general extermination services.

The Level of Competition in the Industry

Normally in any other industry, you would be competing with companies that are in your exact line of business. But in the pest control industry, you also have to deal with landscaping companies and lawn care businesses that also provide pest control services.

So it is right to say that the level of competition in this industry is super high, and it will prove to be tough getting through to your target profit projections with all the other pest control businesses in the industry. In South Africa, there are quite a number of pest control businesses in most states of the country, usually more are focused on the more commercial states where more corporate establishments operate from.

Marketing properly will do a very good job at your winning above your competitors; especially with all those operating their businesses without proper training. This is one of the reasons why you must do your best to receive proper training for this type of work, so that you can provide professional services every time to your clients.

4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry

When speaking about well-known brands, we are also looking at the companies in your locality you would have to compete with when looking for your own piece of the Market. These brands have been there a while; some even if they may not have been operating for too long have made a name for themselves, posing not just a competitive presence but also becoming brands worth emulating.

Listed below are some pest control businesses or brands in South Africa;

  • Rentokil
  • Flick Pest Control
  • Atlantic Pest and Hygiene Solutions
  • Trical Crop Protection Africa
  • The Assassin Pest Control and Fumigation Services
  • Overberg Pest Control
  • Pest Control Specialist

Economic Analysis

Proper feasibility study is required when going into a business like this, you would have to factor in the cost of not just registering with the regulatory agencies, getting your certificates and certifications, but also purchasing equipment, employing staff and branding your vehicles and work clothes. Startup cost can be low for this kind of business depending on how you intend to get into the market.

Generally, a good business research would show you how much it will cost to run a business like this on whatever scale you choose to operate from. If you have a way of building your business relationships and clientele base, this will help you turn out more profits over time.

Keep in mind that there are a number of challenges that comes with starting a business in any place. It has been stated that nine out of ten businesses do not survive beyond five years and usually one may not make significant profits within the first year of the business. When putting together your research, build measures that will help you overcome these negative statistics and balance out the pressure that may come from these challenges.

5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch

Internationally, it may be quite challenging finding franchise opportunities for this kind of business, but in South Africa the franchise opportunities are readily available. Choosing to buy a franchise will offer you an already known brand with proper guidance when you begin.

This would prove to be very advantageous if you haven’t had much experience with pest control services. It is always advisable when getting into this kind of business to have gotten some kind of experience from either personal training or working for a pest control business for some time.

However starting from scratch may be the way to go if you do not like strict guidelines and rules about how to administer your services, which may be one of the major constraints of buying a franchise. When starting from the scratch, you would have the opportunity to grow as a business owner, develop your knowledge of the market and establish yourself as a strong player in the industry over time.

6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face

The first threat to look out for in this kind of business is the economic ups and downs. Usually because of a high income rate, both individuals and corporate bodies can effectively afford quality pest control services. But if there is a problem with the economy which will affect everyone in the country, this will in turn affect the rate at which people utilize this service.

Another threat that can face this type of business is the use of pest control products as some of those products are not just harmful to the pests you are trying to control but also to humans and pets. This is why when choosing to go into this kind of business; one must make sure they have a good understanding of the methods they want to use in controlling pests.

The lack of well-trained pest control specialists can pose another threat to this kind of business. Ensure that you are trained yourself if you want to personally work this kind of business, or if you choose to simply focus on business operations, hire workers that have been certified as pest control specialists.

Another option can be to train those whom you choose to employ so that you are safe from falling into legal problems. We cannot forget the various stringent governmental policies that may from time to time affect the ease at which this kind of business is operated.

7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity

This kind of business can be registered as a Sole Proprietorship, especially if you want to run a small operation within your vicinity, community or neighborhood. Keep in mind that if any liability issues come up from you operating as a sole proprietor, you may be held personally responsible to meet the damages.

Instead of registering as a Sole Proprietor, you may choose to register as a Private Company. This gives you some of the control attributed to the sole proprietor, but frees you from liability issues should they arise. Keep in mind that you may also need to bring into the picture shareholders which could be you as the owner and a few other people and Directors or Managers.

But it is a lighter business legal entity that the Limited Liability Company. Registering this type of business as a Limited Liability Company is also a very great idea, because of the various facets it gives you for growth and expansion.

8. Choose a Catchy Business Name

A catchy name for a pest control business will be very positive for your brand, you can pick a name that is easy to spell and pronounce, a name that stirs up the public to peek at what exactly you do. Once I was driving around town and saw a signage that said “WeKill”, I thought that was a very odd thing to put on a sign.

I instantly got interested in what these people actually did, I would always want to sneak a peek at the sign to know exactly what they did every time I passed by. One day I was opportune to receive a flyer, and found out they were a Pest Control Company named “WeKill”.

Very Creative and of course If I needed some type of pest control service, the first name that will come to my mind is “WeKill”. Below some interesting suggestions you could try as names for your pest control business;

  • Sterile Inc.
  • Pristine pest control LLC
  • Reagent Pest Control Services Inc.
  • Pest Away Incorporated
  • Finisher Exterminators LLC

9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You

Insurance policies are a necessity as without these insurance policies some businesses would not be allowed to operate. It would be wise when putting together your business plan to factor in the cost of the various insurance schemes your business will need.

Some businesses have specific insurances you must have while others are instituted by the state government in whatever state you find yourself in. It would be wise to look for the specific insurance policies for this type of business if there are any. Some of the insurance policies you may have to get are listed below;

  • General Insurance
  • Liability Insurance
  • Health Insurance
  • Workers Compensation
  • Business owner’s policy group insurance

10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents

There may be no need to file for an Intellectual Property Protection or Trademark for this type of business. This type of business focuses on providing services for clients, it does not necessary serve these clients with original ideas, like in entertainment or other parts of technology.

11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification

You would feel a lot more comfortable working with a pest control business where the operators are certified. There are quite a number of pest control operators that have not gone through formal training, and though certification may not be a mandate to run this type of business it certainly will be selling point for you.

You or your crew would be handling some very dangerous products; you would need proper training on how to both administer such products, even in very tricky conditions. And storing them in safe environments is also a factor to look into; this can be seen as a strong reason to get training before going into such a business.

Some places of training in South Africa are;

  • Pest Management Academy South Africa
  • Pest Control Industries Training Academy (PCITA) South Africa

12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate

Legal documents make it easy for you to operate your business in peace, without the fear of governmental and regulatory agencies. Without some of these documents, you cannot get your business off the ground let alone begin to operate.

It would be wise to pay attention to acquiring most if not all of these documents before you begin operations, in order to stay away from fines and various penalties. Some legal documents needed to operate a pest control business in South Africa include;

  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Operating Agreements
  • Pest Control License
  • Business License and Certification
  • Business Plan
  • Insurance Policy
  • Employment Agreement
  • Consulting contract documents
  • Online Terms of Use
  • Online Privacy Policy Documents
  • Company Bylaws
  • Memorandum of Understanding

13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital

Financing your business has got to be one of the most important things you would ever have to figure out. With more and more people not being able to turn a profit, it may be a bit challenging getting investors or business angels to support your venture.

But in spite of some of the negative experiences of others, you can make a difference with your own business, by doing your work thoroughly. And by that I mean making sure your research was excellent and that your business plan is impeccable. When these are in place, it would be easier to convince whoever you want to meet for financial support, to part with their monies.

Some of the financing options for a Pest Control Business are;

  • If you are privileged to have saved up some good money or you may have invested in some stock, you could always use these to finance your business.
  • Purchase of material items could come in handy in times like these; you could sell some of those personal items and use the proceeds to finance the business.
  • If you are confident that the business will grow into a medium scale or even a large scale business, you could sell some shares to interested people
  • It is good to have a proper social network, family and friends can be keener to offering you loans for your business.
  • Banks are usually the first place people look to in order to get loans, you could also apply there.
  • There are people looking for businesses to invest in, or partner with, you could find such people and convince them to put money in your business.
  • There are business angels and organizations that offer business grants to budding entrepreneurs, you could apply for such.

14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business

Two major factors to look into when choosing the right location for your pest control business is easy access to the chemicals you would be needing and easy access of clients to your office. The location of a business can mean the difference between its success and failure.

Good businesses badly positioned have suffered from a lack of clients; however it is possible for a business that is not well managed to still make some type of money because it is rightly positioned. Some key factors to pay attention to when looking into securing a location for your pest control business are;

  • The laws and regulations of the community/state you want to operate from.
  • The main demography of the area
  • The number of other pest control businesses in that particular location, if any.
  • The demand for pest control businesses in the area.
  • Purchasing Power and Business activity of the area
  • Road network and accessibility to the area is a great plus.
  • Traffic Situation of the area
  • Parking and Security

15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs

The average equipment needed for this type of business include fumigation equipment, industry relevant software, tools, pest control equipment, computers/laptops, internet facility, office furniture, van, safety equipment and so on.

Of course when it comes to the fumigation and pest control equipment, extra care has to be taken when storing it up. If such equipment are not well maintained, they could malfunction on the job or even at the storage facility where they are kept.

Apart from the usual personnel that work in a regular company such as the Sales and Marketing Executive, Administrative Officer, Human Resources Manager, Front Desk Officer, Accountant, and so on, you would definitely need the services of certified or qualified pest exterminators.

The Service Delivery Process of Pest Control Business

The Pest Control Operator can choose to utilize whatever method that best suits the unique situation of the client’s need. Once the pest control operator receives an order from a client, the field workers go to inspect the area that needs their services to effectively study the cause of the problem.

There is an agreement between the client and the company concerning what is about to be carried out. Once this agreement follows through, the pest control operators go to work. Even after they are done with the job, sometimes there could still be a bit of the pests around, so the pest control operators may be required to come back a second time.

This can attract extra costs, if it was what was stated in the agreement, or it might be done free of charge as customer satisfaction is key to business success. The chemicals needed to operate such a business can be purchased by the assigned person for that job so it is readily available for the field workers to use.

16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies

Excellent customer service is the foundation of ensuring the spread of your business especially through word of mouth. Most people who have gotten into this business have said that referrals have been the source of 90% of the jobs they do. This is mainly because people want a brand they can trust due to the very delicate nature of this business.

So your marketing strategy should strongly revolve around reliability, safety, well secured payment systems and things that make clients know you are a dependable brand. Below are other interesting ideas for marketing your pest control business.

  • Magazines, Radio and TV Stations are not just there to entertain us, they are also available for advert placement, and you could sponsor a column in a magazine or a program on TV just to advertise your business.
  • Marketing through brochures, letters and pamphlets sent directly to corporate organizations, households around your targeted zone, startups and SME’s can be effective.
  • Market your business at Business fairs, Seminars and such, where your target market would gather for such a meeting.
  • Employ marketers and business development professionals to do traditional marketing for your business.
  • Promote your business on the internet and other digital marketing platforms.
  • Create unique services for clients; think out of the box with your range of services.

17. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win

The best strategy for winning over your competitors in this type of business is to achieve two major things. One is to make sure your service to customers are up to standard and that clients are satisfied with the kind of pest control services they are receiving from you. Word of mouth is arguably the best form of getting an edge over your competitors.

The second thing to focus on is your marketing strategy; it has to be able to appeal to your desired market. Aggressive marketing coupled with satisfying service delivery are two things that can make you win over those who are competing with you for the same client base.

18. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers

One of the ways to increase customer retention is to build incentives around the various pest control services you provide. Since most pest problems revolve around seasons, for example, when it’s cold rats and rodents might seek more warm places to rest and when it’s warm other pests breed more. One tactic could be to create discounts around seasonal pest control needs, as well as other things that would arouse the interest of clients.

Customers stay where they are satisfied with services provided, but because you have loyal customers does not mean you would not go the extra mile to keep in step with them. There are always other people in your line of work looking to gain up on your own client base, so be attentive to what your competitors might be offering.

19. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity

When it comes to growing your business, there is no better strategy than to make sure your brand has been making waves in the ears of the public. Marketing strategies cannot be over emphasized when it comes to running a business successfully.

  • Billboards and banners are great ways to attract attention to what you do, take advantage of them, placing them around the geographical location of your target market.
  • The van you use for this Business must be branded; you can also choose to brand other official cars for the business.
  • Of course when your crew goes to do your job, they should wear branded clothes, other staff members working at the office should also wear branded clothes from time to time.
  • Your website is like an interactive flyer, advertise your business there, and utilize the beauty of digital marketing to attract visitors.
  • You can send your workers to go directly to households, small and medium scale business, and other places where your potential clients might be to market your business.
  • Fliers and Handbills are still an effective means of raising awareness.
  • Encourage those who have received your services to also spread the word about what you do.
  • Once again, take advantage of digital marketing platforms.