Running a pest control business is not for everyone. But if you put in the hard work, you can definitely make a killing with it!
Running your own business is a tough ask. It takes a mountain of efforts to make things work, and the first steps are hard enough to deter even the most determined. But the upside is worth the risk. The obvious positives like financial freedom and job satisfaction apart, you can actually serve the community and help make people’s live easier with your business.
This, however, means getting your hands dirty – quite literally, in this case.
The pest crisis in the UK is real and widespread. From giant rats that you’d otherwise think belong in the wild to tiny bugs and critters that frustrate you to no end, pests are nearly omnipresent in the UK. What this also means is that there’s some money to be made here. But is buying a pest control franchise a good idea? How much does it cost? What are the considerations?
In this post, we will try to get to the bottom of all these questions.
The State of Pests and Pest Control in the UK
They may not represent the most glamorous business idea, but pest control businesses have been among the most profitable ones in the UK for the last five years. Let’s crunch some numbers to put things into perspective.
- The pest infestation in the UK is more harrowing today than ever. Experts estimate the domestic and industrial insect infestation growth to be at a staggering 40%. This number for rats, although unsubstantiated, is supposed to stand at around 15%.
- To understand the gravity of the problem, look no farther than your own kitchen. Nearly 2 in 3 domestic kitchens in the UK are thought to be infested – in varying degrees – by pests.
- The pest control industry in the UK is, quite surprisingly, still in its infancy. The annual turnover registered by the industry for 2016-17 was £463 million.
- The growth rate for the industry – at 2% for 2014-18 – does not reflect the market demand. What this also means is that there’s enough space for more businesses, especially in urban districts.
- There are only about 670 independent pest control businesses in the UK that generate about 7000 jobs.
- Pest control businesses are subject to stringent health and safety rules and regulations.
Source: IBIS World
The numbers are telling. Pest control is not just the need of the hour for countless homes, they are a matter of obligatory requirements at workplaces, restaurants, hotels, schools, hospitals and many other places of business and social activity.
Pest Control and Local Councils – A Twisted Relationship
The most common question one has before buying a pest control franchise is this – why would people buy my services if local councils provide them anyway?
It would have been a valid question about five years ago. But as things stand today, few local councils – if any at all – provide free pest control. In addition, people prefer to deal with private contractors because of better time management, costs and efficiency of work. Take this report for example. The council pest controllers were called in 143,000 times in one year from the West Midlands alone. Quite predictably, they weren’t able to service all the calls, implying more business for private contractors and businesses. The austerity measures introduced on the government as well as local council levels have been in effect for about five years now. These measures slashed local council pest control budgets by 10 to 20%, giving a clear way ahead for private pest control businesses.
Pest Control Businesses – Understanding the Need for Them
The demand is certainly there, as we have established. But what exactly makes a pest control franchise a viable business option?
To understand this, we have to realise the real need for pest control.
This need stems from three factors – the nuisance value of pests, the health hazards posed by pests and the mandatory regulations that require pest control. Let’s very quickly assess these.
Rats and mice are by far the biggest nuisance creators. Found in varying numbers all across the UK, they are known to cause food, property and health damage that collectively costs millions of pounds to UK residents and businesses. In fact, nearly 60% of pest control calls in the UK are to deal with rats and mice. Since these rodents have adapted to urban, semi-urban, industrial and rural landscapes, it’s virtually impossible to make them irrelevant – the only feasible option is pest control.
The same story goes with wasps, ants and bed bugs – the top three insects that not only make people’s lives difficult, but also force their hand to call in pest controllers many times a year.
Reasons to Buy a Pest Control Franchise in the UK
So far we have talked about pest control businesses and what makes them attractive from the demand point of view. Does this, however, also mean that pest control franchises are profitable?
While we can’t really comment on the level of profitability, we can say that there are enough reasons to consider buying pest control franchises.
- Pest control franchises are consumer-facing service franchises, meaning that you can expect a great deal of support from customers if your franchisor has a name-brand that’s well-known.
- This is a specialty service business. So, you can expect much less competition in your territory, as the barrier for entry is quite high.
- The service itself is ever-useful in nature. We aren’t going to run out of pests anytime soon, and your business will always have homes and other businesses to cater to.
- Pest control franchises are required in all demographic areas – from the high streets of London to rural Wales.
- It’s much easier to base your business model on bulk contracts from institutions, organisations and businesses if you operate in a densely populated territory.
- Since you will be required to visit the work site, you don’t need to spend heavily on renting a prime commercial location. (You will need to speak to the local council regarding the storage of chemicals and pesticides.)
- Buying a pest control franchise means that you get to enjoy all the benefits that come with franchising in addition to the brand value – marketing budget, ready-to-deploy know-how, staff training, assistance with necessary certifications, customer support and troubleshooting.
How Much Does It Cost to Buy a Pest Control Franchise in the UK?
Right, we now get down to the most important question of them all.
The reason we picked pest control franchises for this post is simple – it’s easy to get started with one on budget.
“You can buy a standard domestic pest control franchise from a reputed franchisor with a minimum initial investment of £15,000 or more, while a similar commercial franchise will cost you upwards of £30,000.”
This is, however, just the minimum initial investment. It will buy you the franchise licence, basic knowledge, some inventory and training/support for your staff. You will need to have a budget ready for recurring expenses such as rent, insurance, regulatory clearances, certifications and royalties. Another important thing you will need to consider in this context is the cost of mobile vans to carry your equipment and chemicals around. Reputed franchisors do provide finance assistance for buying commercial vehicles. If you want to learn more about alternative finance, our Franchise Finance Guide has you covered.
All things considered, you can get your pest control franchise up and running with an initial capital (rolling for the first six months) of £30,000 to £60,000.
If you can establish your credentials, a pest control franchise can certainly make you good profits.
Pest Control – Licences and Certifications Required
The British Pest Control Association is the licensing body for all pest control businesses operating in the UK. If your franchisor is a member of the association, you can get in touch with them to know what licences will be required for your staff. The BPCA website has some very valuable information in this regard. It’s also advisable to contact your local council to see if any additional permits and licences are needed to operate in the region.
Types of Pest Control Franchises
We will classify pest control franchises into three broad categories for the sake of clarity:
- Domestic Pest Control Franchises
Domestic pest control franchises are limited (usually by licence and capacity) to servicing small-scale domestic projects. The main part of the job here is to answer pest control calls on an as-needed basis in a given territory. The types of pests such franchises have to deal with vary from region to region, but the ‘usual suspects’ include rodents, ants and bed bugs.
Running a domestic pest control franchise is all about establishing a firm business hand in your territory. You will not be required to hire more than 5 pest controllers, given the limited scope of operations.
- Commercial Pest Control Franchises
This is a direct commercial counterpart to domestic franchises. As an industrial/commercial pest control franchise, you will need to look after large scale operations that involve extensive pest control measures. This, quite predictably, calls for more trained staff, industrial equipment and relevant certifications. This is the reason why industrial franchises are more expensive to buy and run.
There’s a significant upside to these franchises when it comes to the revenue model. Industrial franchises rely on getting into long-term contracts with businesses and organisations. This guarantees a predictable stream of income. From hospitals and schools to restaurants and warehouses, the scope of work is quite wide, and you may want to buy a specialty franchise to make things more manageable.
- Agricultural Pest Control Franchises
Since agricultural pest control franchises are fewer in numbers, you may not come across many buying opportunities. It’s also a tough market to break into because of the established market order that has been catering to farms and rural estates for decades.
The focus here is to use customised, eco-friendly techniques to help customers deal with large-scale farmland pest infestations.
Should You Buy a Pest Control Franchise?
From fumigations to disinfections, every service you will provide will need to adhere to strict rules and codes. You will, as the operator, may also be personally liable for maintaining safe operations.
In light of these points, pest control franchises are best suited for those who bring prior experience on board. While you don’t need to be trained or certified to run the business, having these credentials will certainly make things easier. Considering the high volume of emergency, odd-hour calls, you will also need to be ready to commit to the business full-time.
Recommended: Should you run a franchise business?
Top Pest Control Franchises in the UK
- Minimum Initial Investment: £15,000 (plus VAT)
- USP: Domestic + commercial pest control
- In operation since 2003
- Over 20 franchises distributed, all claim to be successful
- Thorough training and support
- Full BFA Member
- Minimum Initial Investment: £16,500 (plus VAT)
- USP: Leading domestic pest control services
- In operation for over 20 years
- 68 active franchises
- Funding support available
- Minimum Initial Investment: £16,295 (plus VAT)
- USP: Eco-friendly pest control services
- In operation for over 20 years
- Full BPCA accreditation
- Funding support available
- Minimum Initial Investment: £16,995 (plus VAT)
- USP: Domestic + commercial pest control
- Recognised brand
- Proven business know-how
- Extensive support and guidance
- Research your franchisor carefully.
- Be prepared to be committed to the business full-time.
- Know what clearances, licences, permits and certifications are necessary.
- Choose a territory that’s not serviced by the local council.
Get funding assistance from an experienced lender.