Game On! Why Most Pest Control Businesses Will Never Grow.

Have you ever wondered why you’re working 12 hour days, 7 days a week and just don’t seem to be getting ahead? No matter how hard you try you’re still not getting to the next level! Well, you are not alone. You just need to do a Google search on pest control and see how many competitors you are up against in your area.

What game are you playing!

After speaking to many owners in this industry, I find it very interesting on how many pest managers start up their business the old fashion way. They get their required licences, apply for a business name, buy a vehicle and equipment, run a few local ads and even put up a website if they have the $$$. Then sit around and expect the phone to ring. It doesn’t take long before they realise it’s not working.

Think of starting a new pest control business like playing a game. You have your players and everyone wants to win. The more players you have, the more competition you have. Who wins depends on how well you play the game. I personally love a good challenge and as kids I use to love playing games, whether it was monopoly, pictionary, card games or even chasey outside. I would watch the other players, don’t let them get ahead of me, and sometimes even play their bluff to win. My strategic thinking kicks in and the game is exciting and fun. I want to win. Starting up a new pest control business should be just like that. Fun and exciting. Game on!  In this article, I’m going to divulge a few of my secret tips that have helped Laguna Pest Control become a small successful, profitable business.

How do you succeed? Start playing a game you can win!

Before starting my own game, I needed to know who I was up against and why was player 4 making more profit than the other players in my area. I contacted every pest company that was for sale in the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane area with the intention of purchasing their business, requesting to have a look at their financials. What I was looking for was why was player 4 and player 12 making a much higher profit margin than the others? The answer was in the clues of the financials. Player 4 and player 12 only worked in one area. They were not travelling the entire Sunshine Coast. Travel and time costs money. Waste time in this game, you will lose. I now had my first advantage over the other players. I knew before even starting my own business, we would only operate in the Noosa area.

Since I’m treating this like a game I decided to do a little role playing and I became the customer. I began with phone skill measuring with my other players. I rang every pest company on the coast and pretended to know nothing about pest control. I asked questions from “What is a termite inspection” and “How come I need to have one”? “How much”? “What chemicals do you use”? “Are they dangerous”? “Do I have to leave the house”? I wanted to gage how much knowledge the telephone staff knew about pest control. I was quite shocked at the lack of knowledge of the majority I spoke to. Not many companies have invested in office staff training. Another advantage coming my way! My Phone mannerisms and approach will be much more clear and concise and user friendly for the domestic home owner. As for the prices, they varied drastically and all offered different warranties. As a customer, I was starting to get a little frustrated at the differences in each company. I was getting to know my players very well now and started to feel confident I was in for a chance at being at the top of my game. I made a strategic move in my own game and quoted my prices a little more than the other players. On this move it was a win for me. Majority of our customers decided to use us for the simple reason we were more expensive. They felt they were getting a better service with a higher quality of work because they were paying more. Just be careful though when making this move. You must be able to justify why you are more expensive.

Who’s move is it next? Make sure you are always on top of the game.

Laguna Pest Control pride themselves in providing one of the best services in the Noosa Area along with high standard quality workmanship. Most businesses would say “That’s easy done”. I can tell you it’s not. It doesn’t matter how qualified you are, how well you treat your customers or how many awards you win, without a great marketing machine in action you are going nowhere. Thanks to the power of internet and social media, advertising is becoming less wasteful.

  1. You need goals and a plan!
  2. Build a team who is going to execute it!
  3. Put forward your ideas!
  4. Who do you need to reach?
  5. What services are you offering?
  6. Submit effective content on the web and social media!
  7. When should you post your content?
  8. Track and measure your performance.

One of the first business decisions I made apart from having a business plan was to work on our brand equity. How is our brand viewed by others?  The value premium that our company will generate from our service with our recognised name. Are our customers going to be loyal? How satisfied will our customers be? Our resource – our base of customers – will be the most important, giving us the right to win in the market place and the game I’m playing. I call it my golden egg that I take very good care of.

For new business owners who do not know what brand equity is – learn it! I put a lot of my time into our brand and reputation and continue to do so. Brand equity will reduce your marketing costs over time. You will attract new customers through awareness and reassurance. You will have time to respond to competitive threats. Clients like familiarity which leads to liking your business. If your brand is visible it gains consideration. Your brand will show commitment. Brand equity gives reason to book through you and creates a positive attitude. 

A great reputation is like virginity. It can be preserved but it can’t be restored.  

Staying on top of your game! Effective game moves.

All games have rules. If you don’t abide by the rules you are not going to win. Whether there are 2 players, or 20 players you still need to abide by the rules of the game. This is the same as your pest control business. Think of systems the same as rules. It doesn’t matter if you are a husband and wife team or you have 12 technicians in your business. You must abide by the systems you have in your work place. I am a strict disciplinarian for having systems in place. You need to have a process that is used as a delivery mechanism for providing the service to your customers. Familiarise yourself with a good business system and stick to it.

When playing a game, you must be on top of your own game to continue winning. Just because you win once, doesn’t mean you will stay on top. You need to continue to be effective in your game moves. Believe what you are recommending to your customers. Believe in the products you are using. Be passionate at what you do. If the customers see you love your work, it will win you extra points. This applies to both office staff and technicians. When employing extra staff just keep in mind that everyone has their own unique personality and a way of dealing with customers. Some customers require special care. Train your staff how to handle the special customers. You will notice I said special and not difficult. I would prefer to say special customer instead of a difficult customer. I will be honest in saying 99% of our difficult customers have turned into our best customers because we applied special care. Most of the time they are only difficult because there has been a communication problem or they don’t understand the treatment. This is where your systems come back into play. A difficult customer can be avoided with a good system in place.

  1. Listen to your customers.
  2. Know your business.
  3. Build a relationship.
  4. Keep in contact.

Thinking outside the game!

Thinking outside the game is more than just a business cliché. Laguna Pest Control has managed to build a solid brand equity due to thinking outside the game. Know your game. Know the rules and know how to play it. Remember every game is different, every game needs to be played differently and has a different set of rules. The same applies in starting a pest control business. Laguna Pest Control has made moves in the game to win in Noosa. Our players are different to players in Sydney. Our rules and how we play the game may not apply to someone starting up a pest control business in Melbourne. Let me give you an example:

Noosa is built on tourism. For us to win the game I had to target the tourism industry. I learnt it, breathed it and became a part of it. I joined Tourism Noosa, Noosaville Business Association, BNI, Noosa Business Connect, the list goes on. I attend every tourism networking event on a weekly and monthly basis.  I take strata managers out for lunch. I take resort managers out for a drink. I got to know them on a personal level and became their friends. For us to win the game in Noosa we had to understand the local community. This is where our marketing machine comes back into play. Laguna Pest Control host events for the Tourism Industry, we have ant and bee mascots for xmas parades, our vehicles stand out from the crowd and our work shirts speak for themselves. Everyone in Noosa recognises our Hawaiian theme bug shirts that just blend in with the resorts and holiday goers.

There will always be another pest control business that will come along and sometimes even do something better than you. Remember, don’t think of this as a threat but more as a challenge. Another game. Competition is great. Competitors give you the chance to improve your business. They are doing you a favour. Make the game fun. Enjoy it and keep loving what you do. It is also important to remember your competitors are not your enemies. Help each other out. You need each other to continue improving this industry. We are all in this game for the same reason. If you’re good at what you do, passionate about your work and have a few strategic game moves, you are on a winning streak!

Written by Nicky Turner – Owner Laguna Pest Control

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