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Consider Buying A Pest Control Route

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by The Bug Doctor

There are a lot of ways to grow your business and each has varying degrees of what it’ll add and how fast. Waves of door knocking salesman, mailers, TV & radio campaigns and the list goes on and on.(I’ve done all of these) While most methods are legitimate they all come down to hard core sales and speaking for myself I’m not a big fan of those approaches. Sales are necessary don’t get me wrong, but I view it as a very large hairy machine that constantly has to be fed. The machine doesn’t care ‘what’ it eats as long as it’s a sales number. So your companies diet usually suffers and if you don’t feed it enough then you, your company and everybody in the office is on edge until the beast is full. *it never is*

Ever Consider Acquisitions?

Instead of sales, have you ever thought of buying your business? It’s the only way I know of where you can wake up the next morning after a deal and instantly have grown by a huge percentage. Sure, I know it’s way more expensive (at least initially) then some of the other routes you can take and yes there is even some risk. Buying customers however pays instant dividends and instead of mapping out neighborhoods for your door to door crew to hit, by buying you are automatically scheduling your new found customers who’ll start giving you close to 100% of what you paid.

I’ve purchased 2 companies (one with a broker and one on my own) and with both I had instant growth and momentum which carried on for quite some time. These weren’t mega companies mind you, just healthy routes with satisfied customers who had already said Yes to pest control service so all I had to do was step in and continue something they already had. There are things you should consider and tips I can give from my experience that may help you if you are considering buying a route, here’s a taste.

First Step Is Financing

There’s nothing worse than finding a ready and willing seller and you can’t raise the funds. Since all your buying is a list of names for the most part and not any real assets, it can be difficult to get a loan. Getting rejected after you’ve made some contacts is somewhat embarrassing and deflating. Banks are kind of stingy on unsecured loans to begin with and if you mix in some economic bad times you might just be shocked at how little they’ll loan out. I was recently turned down even after my two successes and even with a very good credit score. (that’s how I know about the embarrassing and deflating part–I got ahead of myself) It’s best to have your ducks in a row and find out what your options are and what size company you can purchase before you get to far.

Second Is The Search

It might surprise you to know that there are many companies small and large for sale all across the country. What’s more, most of these companies really don’t last long on the market as other firms or interested parties gobble them up pretty quickly. You can find lists of those for sale on brokers web sites or free listings such as on pestweb or other such directories. This however can be a bit frustrating- it’s not everyday you hop on a site and see the perfect sized company for sale and in your service area. Sometimes the perfect fit is an hour and a half away and it can be so tempting. I never dreamed I’d cover so much ground but my first purchase sent me to places I never knew existed. That might be what you need to do and only you can decide but a 90 minute ride home at the end of the day can be a bit much at times. Still, for most you’d like something local and on my second acquisition I was able to find a company in my town, not listed and who was only toying with the idea of selling at the time.

Looking To Buy A Business

In my state every ID card holder, certified operator and pest control company owner is listed on the Dept. of Agriculture’s web site. It’s likelyPicture 11 300x211 Consider Buying A Pest Control Route they are as well where you are. Follow this link to see but be prepared to be persistent- state websites can be like a the definition of insanity come to life. What I did was simply look for the mom and pop companies or those with just a few employees. This way I could pick the ones in my area and roughly estimate just about how much they did and knew they would be close to what I could afford. I then sent each one a letter explaining my desire to grow by acquisition and if they were interested to please call. I actually got several calls in the first few days and even one about a year later. None of these were people listed with anyone nor were they actively seeking to sell. When I found the perfect one we worked a deal and within a week I had added a slew of new customers with very little problems.

Want To Hear More?

There is much more to the process and some dangers to watch out for but overall it is fairly simple. If you’ve been in the industry any length of time you probably already know some inside information on the companies in your area and know who you consider quality or not. If enough people are interested I’ll be happy to go through what I know in future articles. I’m not Donald Trump by any means but I have had both good and bad things occur and learned quite a bit. Not only with the transactions that went through but also the ones I either passed on or missed with my hesitation.

I do know that in the end we are all trying to grow in a very competitive business and finding and buying a route can be an exciting giant step which will lead you to that goal overnight so my advice to you is, consider buying a route.


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  • Pest Kil

    I’ll buy your route in southern Citrus county!

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    No way Eric,

    Once they get a look at how good you are at pest control word will spread like wildfire and my customers will be leaving in droves…You stay out of my area….. PLEASE! lol

  • Stuto1

    So my old boss said companies sell for around 1.5 X revenue. Is this what you found?

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    In a best case scenario for the seller- sure. This can happen with a good economy or when you have 2 or more interested in buying but mostly what I’ve seen however is 1 years gross is the asking and then it’s usually negotiated down from there. Even then, the buyer holds out a percentage (say 15%) for 6 months or so just to have some leverage if something goes awry or he needs the sellers continued help for transition.

  • Bobby

    bought some runs and sold some runs when my wife took bowel cancer, over here in england they sell for 4 times the quarterly sum for instance say $50 a quarter then it sells for $200………

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    That is about the same here without adding equipment.

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