When running a pest control business, you will inspect residential and commercial buildings, aircraft, and vessels to identify and remove pests, and you will advise your clients on pest control and management. If you are new to the industry, it is a good idea to get familiar with the barriers to entry and the technical requirements of the job. 

Similar to other trades like lawn mowing, when you start a pest control business, you will have to invest some capital upfront to buy or hire your equipment and vehicle. Still, unlike other trades, your working conditions may include sacrificing your evenings and weekends and using hazardous chemicals.  

If you are planning to service commercial clients with large warehouses or fleets, such as importers and exporters, you might need to employ staff. Therefore, it is essential to understand your obligations as an employer. 

This article will list the initial steps to start a pest control business in New Zealand and explain some of your legal and tax requirements. 

What Do Pest Control Technicians Do?

If you have no experience working in pest control services, you should understand what a pest technician job entails. Some downsides include working long and irregular hours, mainly throughout summer, and using chemicals that can be dangerous if used incorrectly. Therefore, this role requires a certain level of fitness, as: 

  • you will spend long periods on your feet;
  • you will work in confined spaces and (or) heights; and 
  • you will need to carry heavy equipment. 

Get a Pest Control Licence

To work unsupervised as a pest control technician in New Zealand, you need to obtain:

  • a New Zealand Certificate in Pest Operations (Level 3) in Urban Pest Control, or Rural Pest Control; and 
  • a full Class 1 driver’s licence.

You can find out more on the Careerforce and the Primary ITO websites. You can also opt to register with the Pest Management Association of New Zealand. Although not compulsory, there are benefits of doing so, such as increasing your credibility and gaining access to training seminars.

Buy Your Pest Control Equipment  

One of the barriers to entry in the pest control industry is high startup costs. As a minimum, you will need: 

  • sprayers, tanks, chemicals, traps, bait stations and cages;
  • personal protective equipment such as gloves and masks, and uniforms;
  • vehicles such as a ute, van or truck to transport equipment; and (or)
  • office equipment. 

If you are planning to work in rabbit and possum control, you may also need a firearms licence. There are strict eligibility requirements to get one, but you can contact the New Police to get some further information. 

Setup Your Pest Control Business 

Some of the essential requirements of setting up a new business in New Zealand include: 

  • choosing your business structure (sole trader, partnership, company); 
  • deciding on a name (cannot be in use by another business); 
  • protecting your IP (name, logo, domain);
  • registering your business with the NZBN or the Companies Office (you will receive an NZBN number as part of this process); and
  • registering with Inland Revenue (income tax, provisional tax, GST, employer).

Insure Your Tools and Business 

There are various risks associated with running a pest control business, and they are not always obvious. Due to the nature of the industry, you will need a tailored insurance solution to cover you for industry-specific risks. These include: 

  • Health & Safety breach protection;
  • damage to property owned by others;
  • liability for loss arising from pests;
  • control design;
  • vehicle coverage; and
  • asset coverage.

You should consider discussing these risks with a broker to get access to the most competitive policies and A grade providers.

Market Your Services 

Unless you already have some clientele from your previous experience as a pest control technician*, you are likely to be starting your contacts database (or CRM) from scratch. You should carry out some marketing and sales activities to acquire and nurture new clients and maintain a regular influx (especially if you’re experiencing challenges with seasonality). When it comes to your marketing spend, some rules of thumb include:

  • 5% to 7% of your total revenue to maintain existing sales;
  • 7% to 10% to grow your business; and
  • 10% to 15% if you are seeking brand saturation.

Your essential marketing toolbox should include at least:

  • a simple website;
  • a customer database or CRM;
  • a Google My Business listing;
  • a blog; and (or)
  • social media account(s). 

Building a Website

You can build your website using a content management system. Some popular platforms for small to medium service businesses include WordPress (free, out-of-the-box templates available) and Wix (monthly subscription service). 

As part of setting up your website, you may need to buy a domain and hosting services. A domain name like www.yourbusinessname.com allows you to use this URL for a specific period (usually one year), while web hosting will enable you to store your website’s files. You can buy these services from the same company. 

If your startup budget or resources are limited, you can create a free account with an all-in-one marketing platform like Mailchimp, which allows you to: 

  • manage your clients’ information;
  • send marketing and transactional emails (you can automate these to create a welcome or nurture series); 
  • create a simple website, landing pages and sign up forms;
  • design digital ads; and
  • publish organic social media posts. 

There are various monthly subscription plans available to suit different business sizes and needs, including the number of contacts in your database and audience segmentation needs (for example, if you target both residential and commercial clients).  

If you are working with a partner or staff, you should aim to share the administrative responsibilities of the business. It is a good idea to write some helpful pest control and management tips and publish these on your blog and social media accounts. This can help you attract new clients to your website and differentiate yourself from your competitors. 

Make sure you comply with any post-employment non-solicitation requirements you agreed to with your previous employers. This is usually stated in your contract. 

Hire Staff or Subcontracting

As your business grows, you may need to hire an extra set of hands, for example, to service large commercial accounts or to complete one-off or more technical projects. You have a choice of hiring employees or contractors. Your legal and tax responsibilities are different in each case, so it is a good idea to get familiar with these requirements. The Employment New Zealand and Inland Revenue websites offer many resources to help you understand your legal obligations, including a free tool for drafting employment contracts. However, if you are creating complex agreements like subcontractor contracts, you should always get these reviewed by your lawyer. This can help you to avoid potential liability, unnecessary legal costs and penalties with Inland Revenue and the Employment Relations Authority.

When you hire employees or contractors, you will have some essential legal and tax responsibilities, such as: 

  • pay your employees what their employment contract states (at least the legal minimum wage) and comply with leave requirements;
  • deduct tax from salary, wages or schedular payments, and make other deductions like KiwiSaver, student loans and child support; 
  • make sure your workplace conditions conform with OSHA standards and your employees have access to safe tools and equipment; and
  • write a hazard communication program and share this with your employees to make them aware of the risks and precautions they need to take on the job.

Key Takeaways 

Before starting a pest control business, it is a good idea to get familiar with the technical demands of the job and do some due diligence on the industry and the target market you want to service. To start your small business from scratch, you will need some capital upfront to buy your equipment and vehicle, and obtain a qualification and licence. You will also have some marketing setup costs to help you acquire new clients. Due to the nature of the industry, it is a good idea to insure your business and tools against any risks. Alternatively, you could consider taking on a franchise, although this would require sharing your profits as well as some of your costs. 

If you need help with setting up a pest control business in New Zealand or drafting your employment or subcontracting agreements, LegalVision’s business lawyers can help. Call 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

FAQs

Do I need a pest control licence?

To operate a pest control business, you will need a New Zealand Certificate in Pest Operations (Level 3) in Urban Pest Control, or Rural Pest Control. You will also need a full Class 1 driver’s licence.

Do I need insurance for my pest control business?

There are various risks associated with running a pest control business, and they are not always obvious. Due to the nature of the industry, you will need a tailored insurance solution to cover you for industry-specific risks

How can I market my business?

Your essential marketing toolbox should include at least a simple website, a customer database or CRM, a Google My Business listing, a blog and social media accounts.

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