Can you feel the ground shifting in the pest control market?
The companies that are doing well have done a good job of experimenting in new markets. Some choices are missteps. Some are really big mistakes! But at least if your company is exploring new markets, new ideas, new ways of doing business, than something good may come of it, so long as the pest control company does not over-allocate resources and money to untried ideas. There is a limit to the risk any company should be taking in new ventures. Just because one company is able to conquer a market doesn’t mean that the second company will be just as lucky. First of all, being first always gives a company the leading edge. The second company in the market has to be different, often the opposite of the first. Then the third company to market needs to squeeze out market space in between the first two big fellas.
This past year I have seen many companies exit the fumigation and termite business. Surprisingly, I have seen one big one entering these two markets. Perhaps the time was ripe for a company with cash to push into that market. Companies are realizing that there is money in landscape pest control and comprehensive rodent work. Some are looking to allied professions, such as construction and general repairs to supplement reduced earnings in core pest control markets.
Old methods of gaining customers off-line, guerrilla marketing as it is often called, has been implemented at some companies. Many companies are simply cutting prices, attempting and successfully so, to steal away customers as budget issues become a top priority. But be careful what you ask for as volume does not always equal profit, not when pricing drops to ridiculous lows that cannot support manpower and ancillary costs of doing business.
More companies are entering the green sphere. How they do it varies tremendously. Just today I saw a flier of a company that said they had “mastered the use of organic pesticides.” Like that is a major accomplishment! There is so much to learn about serving and marketing to green customers. It’s not as easy as it looks. But you have to give credit to companies for trying. Perhaps one of the most difficult elements of the puzzle is the attitude of the old-time pest control professional, often stubborn and impossible to change.
In summary, pest control markets are being double squeezed by customers and competitors.
Ultimately, the truth is in the results. Marketing will fool customers for only so long. Entering new markets without the proper knowledge to succeed is like registering for class during finals exam week. There are no short cuts. As the economic slump continues, companies will try with increased desperation to alter course, late as it is. New players will learn the hard way that you’ve got to do your homework. But the worse thing a company can do is stand still while the ground below is shaking.