Start-Up Diaries: Cover All Your Bases Every Day


June 23, 2015

Photo: ©

Photo: ©

Recently, within the span of a few days, three of my pest management brethren (in California, Wisconsin and Michigan, respectively) called and asked how I’ve been able to grow Schopen Pest Solutions so steadily. Since the inception of my business nine years ago, we’ve grown 20 percent or more every year.

Drawing on my inner Tim Tebow, I always try to give God credit first. I thank Him every day for my company and the work He provides for me and my employees. But as far as the nuts-and-bolts aspects of what makes our company hum, it boils down to three words: consistency, urgency and momentum.

I consider consistency the most important trait a person can have. Inconsistent people are generally lazy, waste time and energy, cause chaos, and eventually have to lie, cheat and steal to stay ahead. By contrast, consistent people are dependable, professional and usually successful.

In the military, you have a chain of command that must be consistent from start to finish, ensuring orders are followed. Similarly, in my company, I have a specific way I want initial treatments performed, whether it’s for ants, wasps or mice.

In March, I had a meeting with all of my employees to explain the importance of being consistent as we head into the summer season. I sell the jobs; my programmer sets up the service; my techs do the work; and my billing department handles the money. If I sell an ant job over the phone and tell the client we’re going to use a certain product around the exterior, but my tech ends up using something else, it’s indicative of a breakdown. The client is going to be confused at best, and ticked off at worst.

Being consistent also helps to reduce variables. We sell ant initials for $215 for a 2,000-sq.-ft. home. My techs will know if a client is trying to pull a fast one by telling them “Pete quoted me $175.” Also, my techs are supposed to receive payment before servicing a new client. If they are consistently doing this, it reduces the workload on my billing department and unpaid services.

One of my pet peeves is when a pest management company won’t knock down cobwebs or paper wasp nests at a client’s home, which is a consistent part of our regular service. I should be able to visit any customer’s home, look at the house’s peaks and see that they’re clean. Every residence should be serviced the same.

Urgency is another component of what makes us successful. We treat every mouse, ant and cockroach job as if it were a life-and-death situation. If a client needs an ant service ASAP, I don’t put him off until next week. If my techs are busy, I’ll run out and service the account myself. If I get a lead through Reach Local, Home Advisor or the phone directory, I answer my phone within two rings. If I’m already on the phone and it goes to voicemail, I’ll call back within minutes.

Nothing impresses clients more than quick response time. A few years ago, an elderly woman called my house on Christmas Eve while I was eating dinner with my family. She was crying because she saw a mouse and had guests coming for Christmas Day. After calming her down, I explained the situation to my wife. I then made the 45-minute trip to the woman’s home. She has been with us now for seven years as a quarterly client.

A sense of urgency runs through our entire company. If our billing department is processing a credit card and it’s declined, we don’t deal with it later. My billing director jumps on the phone and calls the client immediately. If she can’t reach the customer, I’ll call them. If the customer can’t be reached after 48 hours, we leave a message and mail an invoice.

You often hear the term “hot streak” when talking about sports teams. The same term can be applied to businesses. Momentum is tangible. When you’re on a roll, wow, the business pours in.

To this day, I still answer every new call the company receives. Every sale I make creates work for my techs and broadens our reach and influence. After my first four years in business, we had 30 clients in Palatine, a Chicago suburb, before we even started advertising there. Referrals just kept coming. If we make the referrals happy, then Schopen Pest Solutions will continue to grow.

I coach a baseball team and tell the players if they’re going to make mistakes, make them at 110 percent. Our team slogan is “Hustle, get down, get dirty!” That translates to my pest management company, too. If I ever lose my sense of urgency and fail to consistently return calls quickly, we lose sales, which means a loss of referrals, which kills our momentum.

I’m not perfect. My company isn’t, either. But we always give it our best.

Schopen’s Open Book
Start-up: Schopen Pest Solutions Inc.
Headquarters: McHenry, Ill.
Founder: Peter F. Schopen Jr.
Start-Up Date: April 11, 2006
Number of employees: seven full-time / two part-time
2006 REVENUE: $97,235 (one employee)
2007 REVENUE: $172,495 (one employee)
2008 REVENUE: $203,732 (one employee)
2009 REVENUE: $243,427 (two employees)
2010 REVENUE: $325,960 (three employees)
2011 REVENUE: $425,847 (four employees)
2012 REVENUE: $489,887 (five employees)
2013 REVENUE: $572,772 (six employees)
2014 REVENUE: $710,000 (six full-time and one part-time employees)
APRIL 2015: $67,660 (31% increase over April 2014)
2015 REVENUE: $200,323 (36% increase over 2014; two part-time and seven full-time employees)
2015 GOAL: $873,000

Schopen is owner and founder of Schopen Pest Solutions, McHenry, Ill. You can email him at or reach him via Twitter: @schopenpest; Instagram: @peteschopen; or Facebook: Schopen Pest Solutions, Inc.


Leave A Comment

Comments are closed.