For many pest management professionals (PMPs), budgeted expenses for equipment and materials will be up in 2024, despite revenue increases not keeping pace. Still, the average PMP is “hungry” enough to plunk down some hard-earned cash to get something good in return.
So say the respondents of our 2024 State of the Industry survey: A full 81 percent say their 2024 budgets are bigger than in 2023 — and 15 percent are up by at least 26 percent. But as impressive as these numbers are, they’re down from our 2023 survey, when 94 percent of respondents reported making a bigger budget.
What they’re spending their money on has not changed much in 12 months. Baits, traps and insect growth regulators (IGRs) still rank high on the list. Vehicles and accessories, for which 57 percent of 2023 respondents were planning to purchase, increased to 64 percent this year.
Some PMPs need additional vehicles to keep up with staff expansion. Others just need to replace worn-out trucks and cars. Dan Fleischer, CEO of Framingham, Mass.-based Pestex Inc., falls into both camps. What compounds things is the lack of dealership inventory, especially for hybrid vehicles, he says. In the meantime, Fleischer keeps a spare truck with a base amount of materials on-site of his trusted mechanic shop, and once every 17 weeks, one of his 17 technicians takes the spare while his or her individual truck is given the onceover at the garage.
Fleischer says he gets about five years out of a work vehicle before he trades it in. That, plus an expanding team, means fleet maintenance is paramount.
“Vehicle down time is death,” he points out. “With our regularly scheduled appointments, the mechanic is going to give each truck a safety check, an oil change and whatever else might be needed.”
Jim Pond, co-owner of The Bug Guys, based in Port St. Lucie, Fla., also is battling vehicle availability issues — even before the 2023 United Auto Workers strike began, which continues at press time in late September and is affecting vehicle supply in many parts of the U.S. While waiting yet another year for some hybrids on back order, he’s keeping fuel expenses down by compressing service areas, monitoring the least-expensive gas prices, and keeping the fleet in top shape.
What’s top of mind for Pond in the coming months, however, are plans to convert a sales office into a full-service branch in late 2024. He’s also eyeing iPads for his sales team to reduce paperwork, and adding new jacket options for The Bug Guys uniforms.
Pond says he feels good about making investments in 2024 overall. “We are excited about the future of the pest control industry, and the growth opportunities that exist,” he says.
Fleischer agrees, noting there is just one rule before opening your wallet: “Do your homework before making any major purchase.”