Professional Pest Controller Magazine Issue 94

05 March 2019

Starting a pest management company - can you do it on your own?

Meet the member | PPC94 March 2019

At BPCA HQ we take hundreds of calls every year with people asking us how they start out in pest management and whether it’s possible to get into the trade without experience.

Black Dog Pest Control meet the member

Matthew Evitts entered into the pest management sector in March 2017. After spending 20 years as a Gas Safe registered plumber. Based in West Bromwich, Matthew’s company Black Dog Pest Solutions has grown steadily since joining BPCA and is now servicing both commercial and residential customers.

Plumber to pest control - how did that happen?

When I was growing up one of my neighbours was a plumber. Even though I used to go out ratting with a friend, between the careers advisor at school and my family at 16, I was railroaded into the plumbing trade.

I was starting to find plumbing too physically demanding so set about trying to get back into pest control which relies more on my mental strength
than physical.

My proper introduction to the professional industry was PestEx 2017. My wife and I travelled down to explore getting into the industry.

Between meeting BPCA and the manufacturers and distributor community, PestEx convinced me that there are enough people to support a new entrant like me.

I joined BPCA’s Probationary Scheme when I booked on to the General Pest Control (GPC) course. I did the online learning and then passed the Level 2 Award in Pest Management thanks to an excellent six days in Stafford with Paul Westgate and the group I studied with.

I must admit, I did try and work for a few firms after I qualified, but I learned very quickly I would prefer to do it my way.

I felt under pressure rushing around and I wanted to educate customers to show them how to stop problems arising in the future. It was more about jobs done than jobs finished. Proofing services were rarely offered, which is something I really enjoy doing, especially with my knowledge in plumbing and how houses are put together.

And what’s life like now you’re in pest management?

Compared to plumbing, people are so happy to see you when you turn up at their house or business. The relief is all over their face, and that means a lot
to me.

Every day I’m helping people to live a more comfortable life, and it’s fantastic to get gratitude, both emotionally and financially!

When I do turn up to a job, I tend to encourage trapping where appropriate as it’s what I enjoy most. Plus we all know we should be using poison as a
last resort.

I personally enjoy camouflaging my traps with tat from the garden. Believe it or not, it delivers some excellent results, especially with issues related to neophobia. Old wood or plastic doesn’t seem to alert the rodents as easily.

Since I set up, I've not had two days the same; not even in the very busy wasp season last year. I’m starting to be known as the Black Country’s urban gamekeeper, which is okay with me!

Why Black Dog?

I really didn’t want ‘kill’ in my company name.

I’m not saying it’s wrong, but lot’s of firms seem to have it, and as we become more environmentally aware I felt the company name needed to connect with people in a different way.

As dogs are ‘man's best friend’, I figured that would be a good connection to go for. And obviously, we have Sienna, my black labrador. So we simply became Black Dog. What’s good about it is that it seems to stick (so far, so good anyway)!

Have you done a job which you’re particularly proud of?

Yes. One stands out more than the rest for me. There’s a drug and alcohol charity in Walsall which had a longstanding mice issue.

It’s the usual story. Lots of pest controllers had attempted to resolve the issue but I spotted the problem. It was simply a vent which needed some wire mesh fixing to it and the issues stopped straightaway.

The poor social workers weren’t able to use the kitchen before, but now they can eat their sandwiches safe in the knowledge nothing has been near them. These guys do amazing work, most of the time with very little thanks, so to be able to help them was rewarding.

I rely on my wife to produce the posts and set the ads going

Are you where you wanted to be 12 months in?

The wasps really helped me in my first year of business last summer, but I’d like to be a little further on with my commercial services than I am at the moment.

I have secured some regular contract work and lots more enquiries have arrived through December and early January. I am learning how to get myself out there to target new customers, but one thing that doesn’t change is just doing a good job, and getting referrals by word of mouth.

Is there anything you miss from your old life?

I miss being able to copy the answers to the CPD quizzes like we used to in the plumbing trade! It’s so much more professional in the pest control world and I do feel I’m making an investment in my knowledge each time I go to a meeting, or read a magazine.

I loved going to the merchants and having a cup of tea with the other customers to find out what’s what. Working for yourself can be quite lonely at times, and that’s why I like to go to events in my area to see what other people are challenged with and if they have any ideas that can help me.

It does strike me that even though the people you talk to are your competitors, there is a genuine friendliness from one pest controller to another. It’s like we’re all on the same side no matter who we work for – and that’s one thing I wouldn’t change!

Any advice for someone thinking of starting out in pest management?

Yes. I spent a large portion of my advertising budget placing advertisements in a local listings book – I’m sure you’ll know the ones I mean.

Anyway, I advertised in there because that’s where I used to look when I needed pest control. What I soon realised is that we need to experiment with where we promote and work out where the best pounds are spent.

As you might guess, going digital has proved a good decision – Google particularly. The challenge with going digital is that I can’t do it. I rely on my wife to produce the posts and set the ads going. I need to say thank you at some point, so thanks, Jax!

Jax isn’t a marketing professional; she just started experimenting and it’s working out, especially with the Google My Business page.

So outside of marketing, I’d say to new starters to look after your customers like nothing you have before. Be personable and educate them about why you’re taking a specific approach. The people who have referred business to me have been the type that now values pest control and me as a professional.

Thanks for your time Matthew. One last question – can you go it alone in pest control?

No. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t ask for help. There’s no shame in that.

I do think I’d be making progress though, however, it would be slow and I’d be stressed, maybe even considering if I made the right decision. Suppliers, family members and BPCA particularly have been there when I needed them.

Whether it be with guidance, or just being able to put the logo in front of someone and explain what it means – I’ll always appreciate being a member of BPCA.

Thinking of starting out?

You’re not alone!

Between the BPCA Probationary Scheme and our unrivalled Training Pathway, BPCA can help you start a company and make it a success.

Starting out

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