Understanding Pest Control Non-Competes- The Employer’s Perspective

Agreement DocumentAs pest control operators, you spend years building your companies. Blood, sweat, frustrations, and tears go into building relationships with your customers, and your employees.

What if one of your employee technicians decides that he or she wants to quit and start their own pest control business? Are you protected?

Many pest control companies utilize non-compete agreements or clauses in their businesses.

What exactly are pest control non-compete agreements? Do they work, and how are they enforced? Are there any drawbacks to using these clauses in the employee hiring process? What about legal issues that come up?

Many questions arise when it comes to pest control non-competes. In part one of our look at pest control non-competes, let’s take a closer look at the employers or PCO’s perspective:

Pest Control Non-Compete Agreements

A non-compete agreement or clause is a contract under which an employee (in this case a pest control employee or technician) agrees not to enter into or start a similar profession that is in competition against the employer, or PCO. It basically prohibits a current or former pest control employee from starting a similar pest control business in your competitive markets.

The majority of states in the U.S. recognize and enforce various forms of non-compete agreements. A few states, such as California, totally ban or prohibit non-compete agreements except in limited circumstances.

Reasons To Use A Pest Control Non-Compete Agreement

The reason for having your pest control employees or technicians sign a non-compete agreement is simple. You must protect yourself and the business you’ve put so much time, capital, and effort into.

Owning or managing your own pest management company comes with many risks. One such risk is the possibility that upon an employee’s termination or resignation, they might begin working for a direct competitor or even start their own business. By doing so, this former employee can gain a competitive advantage by exploiting confidential information about their former employer’s operations, trade secrets, or sensitive information such as customer lists, business practices, most effective products, and marketing plans.

The purpose of having your technicians sign a non-compete agreement or clause upon employment is an attempt to prevent this from happening. This protection allows the PCO to hire, contract and otherwise operate a pest control business without fear that the business knowledge and advantages will soon be used against them.

Ethical vs. LegalStealing Customers

The biggest concern I hear from PCO’s when it comes to employees leaving their companies and starting their own businesses, is taking customers with them when they go. These technicians develop close relationships with the customers on their routes. These customers trust their technicians, and these technicians know exactly what the customer’s wants and needs are. Many will follow a tech when they leave.

When this situation occurs many legal and ethical issues arise. As the owner of your pest management company, you paid for the trucks, the insurance, the chemicals, the training, the customer service reps; basically all of the overhead. You’ve also spent advertising money, paid sales commissions, and paid for online marketing in order to attain these customers, but also retain them. When a former employee takes these customers, it can be construed as theft.

Drawbacks Of Pest Control Non-Compete Agreements

One of the biggest disadvantages of non-competes is that they can be incredibly difficult to enforce. Enforceability can even depend on the state. Like I mentioned before, a few states (California), employment related non-competes are illegal.

Legal IssuesIn many cases, enforceability may require legal action.

Pest Control Non-Competes & Legal Issues

As mentioned, the enforceability of a non-compete may require legal action. As the owner of a pest management company, you must evaluate the cost of suing your former employee who is breaking a non-compete agreement. You also must determine if there is any chance of actually getting paid; which may be unlikely if your former employee is just starting out and has very little capital. Usually the costs are higher than your losses, and even if they win, you may never get paid.

Every pest control business should have legal representation. Consult with yours to ensure your non-compete agreement, or any other legal document for that matter, meets local, state and federal requirements.

Confidentiality agreementTry Non-Solicit or Confidentiality Agreements Instead

I’m hearing more and more from pest control operators, that they are changing their strategies when it comes to non-compete agreements. Many have changed from non-compete agreements (which are VERY difficult to enforce) to non-SOLICIT agreements. One such agreement will state exactly what the PCO wants– That a former employee can’t solicit the customers you invested resources and time in getting. They seem to be a little easier to legally enforce.

I’m also hearing that some PCO’s are beginning to use confidentiality agreements; which are very similar in nature. Every state is a little different, so do some research and find out which contract is right for you and your pest control business.

In Conclusion

The topic of pest control non-competes is a difficult one; full of ethical and legal issues. No PCO wants to lose their hard-earned customers to anyone else, so look to non-compete agreements; or better yet, consider a non-solicitation agreement instead.

Consult with your company’s legal representation to ensure your non-compete or non-solicit agreement meets local, state and federal requirements.

Click Here For Part Two On Pest Control Non-Competes- The Employee’s Perspective.

Becoming A Pest Control Operator

Pest Control TechnicianIn an economy where jobs can be hard to find, sometimes it’s worth it to consider jobs you may not know much about. One job you may not have considered is that of a pest control operator. In 2013, Fox Business named the pest management industry as one of the top 8 jobs to ‘escape the office’ and with good reason. The pest management industry is in constant demand, which is great for job security. Here is some more information that can help you decide whether this career path is right for you.

What is a Pest Control Operator?

A pest control operator is also called a PCO or, more commonly, an exterminator. They use the equipment and preventive measures at their disposal to control infestations or to eradicate animals and bugs from various locations, such as homes or commercial buildings. A PCO may work for a pest control company or be an independent contractor, hired individually to rid a location of pests. Some companies may have an extra interest in controlling their pest population – food manufacturing companies, for example – and they may even employ a full-time pest control operator to ensure their locations always remain pest-free.

What Kind of Pests Do They Deal With?

CockroachThis varies by location. A few of the most common pests you might be asked to deal with as a PCO are:

        • Spiders
        • Termites
        • Ants
        • Cockroaches
        • Bedbugs
        • Fleas
        • Rodents
        • Bee hives
        • Wasp nests

Not all pests are insects, however. Pest control operators are also called upon to deal with rodent infestations like mice and rats. On occasion, they may even have to rid a building of birds or snakes that have taken up residence in a building.

Pest InspectionRoutine House Inspections

Typically, a homeowner or business owner will contact a pest control operator to get an inspection. They may do this if they have seen pests in the building, if their neighbors have pest problems, or simply a routine basis to ensure the building is clean.

During these inspections, the PCO will examine the building and its surrounding yard. Using special tools designed for pest control, they must make sure to check areas known as good pest hiding places, such as attics, basements, foundations, and beneath trees and shrubs. After the inspection, the PCO will usually give the building owner a report detailing any concerned or infested areas, as well as a recommended course of action.

After the Inspection

If the building owner opts to go ahead and eradicate pests in infested areas, the PCO may ask them to sign a contract if required for the job. They will then make an appointment for a follow-up and return to the home or business to do the job of removing the pests from the area. Occasionally toxic materials are used as part of this job, and in this case, residents may be asked to leave the premises or segregate their pets to make sure nobody is accidentally hurt during the process. Some companies also offer organic pest control treatments in addition to standard treatments which may or may not contain toxins depending on the treatment needed. These organic options may be useful in situations where pets, children or outdoor gardens are involved.

There are many methods of dealing with pests, such as setting traps, destroying nests, spraying the infested area, and sealing up entry points. If these methods do not work and the pests stay or return to the area, some pest control companies offer a money-back guarantee or return inspections.

Exterminator sprayingBecoming a Pest Control Operator

Most of the time, a college degree is not necessary to become a PCO, although a high school diploma or its equivalent is usually required. The most important part of the process of becoming a PCO is training. In some areas of the country, pest control operators will be required to take specific training programs, like these for example, and apply for a pest control license from their respective state before they are able to work for a company or start their own business. This does not necessarily mean you need to have a license before you are hired. Some companies may hire you and then work with you to provide that training with the understanding that once you get your license, you will continue to work for them as a licensed pest control operator.

Even in jurisdictions where you do not need to have a pest control license, training is still a vital part of the job. Not only does this allow you to do your job effectively, removing pests completely and preventing them from returning, but it ensures that you do your job safely. Pest control operators often work with toxic substances, and companies want to make sure their workers handle the toxins properly. Neglecting that can endanger the health of the humans or pets involved, not to mention the possibility of polluting the building’s air and water.

If you are seeking a job as a pest control operator, your best bet is to contact your local pest control company to ask them about the application process. If they are seeking new PCOs, you can ask them about the training process and if you need to be licensed before applying. They can tell you what you need to know to get your foot in the door as a pest control operator.

You may never have considered the possibility of becoming a PCO, but with a little training, you could be well on your way to a promising new career path.

Escape The Office: Pest Control Named To Top Jobs

Outdoor Pest ControlAre you tired of being stuck inside the office for forty plus hours a week while others are enjoying the fresh outdoor air? If so, than look no further then these eight outdoor jobs that will help you escape the office… Including Pest Management Technician and Termite Service Technician.

Pest Control Named One Of The Top Jobs To Escape Office

Fox Business recently came out with a list of the top eight jobs to help you escape the office, and both Pest Management Technician and Termite Service Technician made the list.

One of the main reasons why Pest Management Technician and Termite Service Technician made the list is because of the high job security. Every area of the country has to deal with pests like cockroaches, spiders, termites, bedbugs, rodents, and silverfish. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that pest control jobs will grow at a rate of 26% in the next decade; much more rapidly than other average occupations.

Another reason why Pest Management Technician and Termite Service Technician made the list is because workers can make a moderate living without needing a college degree. The average pest control worker makes $14.59 an hour, or $30,340. These numbers are significantly higher for experienced technicians.

The Top 8 Outdoor Jobs To Escape The Office

1. Landscape Architect
Median annual pay: $62,090
Job growth: 16%

2. Environmental Scientist
Median annual pay: $61,700
Job growth: 19%

3. Surveyor
Median annual pay: $54,880
Job growth: 25%

4. Mason
Median annual pay: $45,410
Job growth: 40%

5. Archaeologist
Median annual pay: $54,230
Job growth: 21%

6. Pest Management Technicians
Median annual pay: $30,340
Job growth: 26%

7. Termite Service Technicians
Median annual pay: $30,340
Job growth: 26%

8. Recreation Worker
Median annual pay: $22,260
Job growth: 19%

What Pest Management Or Termite Service Technician Do

Pest Management Technician

  • Inspect homes or buildings for signs of pests or pest infestation
  • Determine the nature of pest, infestation, and treatment needed to eliminate pests
  • Design and implement pest management plans
  • Spray or dust pesticides throughout homes and properties
  • Create barriers to prevent pests from entering a building
  • Set bait and traps to remove or kill pests
  • Drive trucks equipped with power spraying equipment
  • Educate property owners on additional steps and methods to eliminate pest

Termite Service Technician

  • Similar duties as a pest management technician
  • Highly trained to specialize in termite control
  • Use heavy equipment for drilling and digging trenches involved in resolving termite problems
  • Use chemicals and modify structures to eliminate termites and prevent future infestations
  • Repair structural damage caused by termites and build barriers to separate pests from their source of food
  • Termite fumigators use fumigants (pesticide gas) to treat serious infestations

Exterminator Spraying OutdoorsHow To Become A Pest Management Or Termite Service Technician

If you are interested in becoming a pest control technician you will need three things: (1) A high school diploma, (2) State licensing and (3) one to three months of on the job training. Additionally, many pest control companies require you to submit to a background check, drug test, and have a clean driving record.

Most pest control workers begin as technicians. After receiving general training, including training on pesticide use and safety, technicians can choose specialties such as rodent control, termite control, bedbug control, and fumigation.

Other important qualities needed to become a Pest Management or Termite Service Technician include: (1) physical strength and stamina as you are on your feet regularly in adverse conditions, (2) strong interpersonal communication skills as you converse with customers on a regular basis, (3) neat and clean appearance because you are the face of a company and regularly enter customer homes, and (4) detail oriented are you are dealing with toxic chemicals.

For More Info On Technicians and Termite Service Technicians

Learn more about Pest Management Technicians and Termite Service Technicians from The Bureau of Labor Statistics.

If you are in need of a high-quality pest or termite control technician look no further than Bulwark Exterminating.

 

Mosquito Control in St. Louis

Today’s interview is between Thomas, Bulwark Exterminating, and Thomas, Pioneer Pest Management… So we will make it Thos003, Bulwark, and Tom, St. Louis Extraordinaire. So let’s chat about…

Mosquito Control in St. Louis

Mosquito Control
Pioneer Specializes in Mosquito Control

Thos003: Mosquito control is a challenge many pest control companies are not willing to face, so how long have you been working to target mosquitoes?

Tom:We have been specifically focused on mosquitoes for about three years.  This market was under served from a mosquito control standpoint, so we have helped boost awareness that there are effective solutions available. We started using a backpack mist and that led to getting into system installation.

Thos003: How long have you been using a misting system?

Tom: We did our first installation of the misting system about 3 years ago shortly after we began with the backpack fogging.  Our first installation was more of an experiment to see how it would work.  After visiting other operators in other markets and hearing some of the feedback from their customers, we were really convinced that this was a great offering. We have been installing more and more through our existing customers spreading the word, so we’re happy.

Thos003: Is this the same misting system with the tubes set up around the perimeter of the house that shoots out bursts every few minutes? How often do you have to mist?

Tom: Yes, we are a certified re-seller and installer of MistAway Mosquito Misting systems.  These systems include tubing installed around the perimeter of the affected area with misting nozzles every 8-10 feet.  The systems have a timing mechanism built in to mist at the intervals the user specifies.  Most often, the systems are set to mist at dusk and dawn, when mosquito activity peaks.  However, some customers prefer to have a third or fourth session in the middle of the afternoon or later in the evening if conditions dictate.

Thos003: About Pioneer Pest Management & Mosquito Misting, you are a family based company, privately owned, how many years in business?

Tom: We are a family business.  Our family members have a diverse background in business. We have been in this community a long time, which has really been helpful with word of mouth growth and that has been awesome.  We started in 2007.

Thos003: I noticed you like foursquare? Sorry, but being a nerdy internet guy I’ve got to ask about it. I mean it’s totally geek to the max cool <snort LOL snort>… What benefits do you get from it?

 

Tom: Funny you should ask. At this point, we have not seen any benefits.  However, we think it makes sense to be transparent.  If a customer comes to our site and sees we have been in their neighborhood recently, it might make them more comfortable to contact us. After all, how interesting can a pest control website really be to someone? Since there is no cost to using some of these available social media tools, it’s really just kind of interesting to try different things and see how they work. We can move away from it if we discover a downside.

Thos003: Sounds logical. You are a local service so why not show your local support. You know I visited St. Louis once, went up in the arch, fun experience.  Funny thing about AZ is that a lot of natives have never visited the Grand Canyon. So have been up in the arch?

Tom: Great question. I have, but most people you ask around town have not.  If you are ever in St. Louis again, you have to check out the City Museum.  It is a very cool, unique attraction.   And I have to ask, what local restaurant is a must visit, just in case I decide to drop in on you sometime.
You can find us at Llywellyn’s, it’s a great Celtic style pub. For Italian, Massa’s in Kirkwood. St. Louis has a ton of great spots though. Come visit us!

Thos003: Thanks for the invite! You will be one of the firsts to know if I do drop in. And thanks for interview.

Click here to learn more about their mosquito control service.

Pest Control worker stealing? Background Checks.

Some of today’s tragic headlines in the pest control industry are as follows:

Pest control worker stole Rays championship ring.

http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/crime/st-petersburg-police-pest-control-worker-stole-rays-championship-ring/1111162

Pest control worker arrested for allegedly stealing Rays American League Championship ring

http://www.abcactionnews.com/dpp/news/region_south_pinellas/st_petersburg/pest-control-worker-arrested-for-allegedly-stealing-rays-american-league-championship-ring

Unfortunately this looks pretty grim for the pest control industry and the company that hired this individual.

A couple of years ago an owner in the pool business related a sad story about an employee of his.  A small family owned pool service was nearly shattered by one bad hire.  The employee was a relative. It is sad to say, but just because one is family doesn’t make them trustworthy.  His advice, “DO BACKGROUND CHECKS ON EVERYONE.”

Since that time Bulwark has implemented background checks on all new hires.  It’s not just a matter of security for the company, but these individuals are walking into people’s homes.  Your customer’s safety is at risk.  Perhaps too often in pest control people only consider the “How safe is your pest control product?”, but the news of a hired pest control tech stealing isn’t a question of pesticides being safe, but of property, family, and company being safe. Pest Control Operators have the responsibility to thoroughly hire and train employees. It’s worthy the cost.

The story goes on to say that he lost his previous pest control job where he was accused of stealing. We are well aware that as a small family pest control business time is valuable.  But skimping on hire techniques and through background checks that do cost money, is worth the extra effort.

As a point of discussion we are curious how many other pest control companies are taking this one step further and doing drug tests and ongoing “random” drug tests?  Do you feel drug tests should be allowed? As a consumer would you feel better knowing your pest control guy is drug free?

Thanks for contributing.

Florida Pest Control

Reports are flooding in right now about a pest control company in Florida that has allegedly been operating without a license.  Its rumored that the techs were not licensed and the Alabama based pest control company was not licensed.  Fine is currently set at $30,000.

I am one not to jump to conclusions.  I would be shocked if this is true, but its not unfathomable.  Many individuals in life make decisions that seem to have good short term benefits, but that will hurt them in the long run.  As Adam says, ” It will catch up to you and some day you will have to pay the Piper.”  Running a business in an industry like pest control, where a state license is required you best get licensed.  Sure you can rack up a little more money not paying for licenses, but is it really worth the risk?

As the old tale goes about a truck driver bragging that he was so good at driving his truck that he could drive with half a wheel hanging off the edge of a cliff, another driver chimed in, “I am so good at driving a truck that I stay as far from the cliff as possible.”

Do it right, all the time, every time, and you won’t have to worry about “getting caught.”  If you are doing it right then there is nothing to catch.