It’s All About Accountability


November 10, 2015

It’s lonely at the top. Every day I have to make decisions that affect my company, customers and employees. I have no one to tell me whether these decisions are right or wrong. My gut is my guide. This is the plight of most business owners.

In March, I wrote about the benefits of peer group participation. This month, I interviewed one of our peer group members for his take on peer groups. Donnie Shelton of Triangle Pest Control in Raleigh, N.C., has been participating in our pest management peer group for two years and continues to benefit from it by receiving ideas and affirmation of many of the policies, procedures and other initiatives he uses to build his business.

Dan Gordon (DG): Tell me about Triangle Pest Control.
Donnie Shelton (DS): Triangle operates in the Raleigh market providing residential services and is on a high growth trajectory. We have a great team, as well as an expanding book of residential customers.

DG: How did you enter the pest control business?
DS: Several years ago, I was getting tired of the corporate grind. I wanted to do something entrepreneurial. In looking for something, I came across a pest management professional (PMP) who was retiring, so I bought his business. Armed with a degree in computer programming, and trained as a military pilot, I began my journey as a PMP. While I had great skills from the past, I had no formal training in pest management. But I had the desire to succeed.

DG: How were the early years?
DS: They weren’t easy, but I have fond memories. I knew I needed to get up to speed quickly or else we were not going to succeed. Very early in the game, I reached out to several PMPs to look at their operations and get ideas about how success is built in the industry. As I immersed myself in the industry, I noticed there are many PMPs who started their businesses after working for a larger competitor, laying the groundwork for systems and processes to get things done. This path provided many of the tools needed to succeed.

Then there are many successful people in the industry who have grown up in family businesses or come from other industries to start with little or no experience. In many cases, these owners never worked for other pest management companies. That was me. With no industry experiences to draw upon to tell me right from wrong, I had to go with my gut. But like many of us who never worked in the industry, we harbor certain insecurities: No matter how successful we are, we’ve never worked for another PMP, so there are questions about how to do things correctly in the most effective manner.

DG: What made you join a peer group?
DS: I sought out help from others in the industry. But it was nothing formal — just an office visit here and there. The peer group format that you’ve crafted allows members with similar backgrounds and daily issues to address those issues while getting input from others. I get some great ideas from the key wins and losses of others in the group.

Being with people who are in similar situations, in terms of position in business and in life, gives me the feeling I’m not alone and that there are others who walk the same path and also need answers to many of the same questions. They also can provide answers to issues we all face.

DG: Give an example of a specific benefit you’ve derived from your membership.
DS: It’s all about accountability. When I was in the Air Force, we received clear instructions and were held accountable. I was a pilot and there was no room for error because people’s lives depended on my actions.

When you’re the CEO of a business the accountability is different. Many times as the boss, you’re only accountable to yourself. While holding yourself accountable for the goals and objectives you set is helpful, verbalizing those objectives to others who will hold you accountable is powerful. The format of the meetings encourages members to become close friends. We talk about issues going on in our personal and professional lives. We update one another about our businesses’ goals and we decide on at least three items we’ll be implementing in our businesses by the next meeting.

I love that I’m held accountable in this group. I don’t want to fail to achieve the goals I’ve set and then have to face the group and tell them so. This makes me work hard to ensure I achieve what I set out to do. It’s important to be accountable to other business owners who can give you unbiased and unfiltered feedback.

DG: What goal did you set for which the group kept you accountable and on track?
DS: Websites have become the lifeblood of the marketing machine. But there are so many decisions that go into designing and updating a site. Last spring, I told the group that by the winter meeting my company was going to redesign and simplify its website to make it more effective and help us capture more leads. Those seem like worthy objectives, but that’s all they were. A group of objectives only become a goal when we put a timeline on accomplishing them.

And that’s exactly what we did. We were able to preview the new and improved website for the peer group at the winter meeting. Knowing the site had to be completed by the winter meeting put the onus on me to make sure it was or I would have felt I failed the group.

Dan Gordon is a CPA in New Jersey and owns an accounting firm that caters to PMPs throughout the U.S. He facilitates several peer groups that help PMPs increase growth, profitability and accountability in their firms. Visit for information about his firm, PCO Bookkeepers. Gordon can be reached at


About the Author

Dan Gordon, CPA, owns PCO Bookkeepers, an accounting and consulting firm that caters to pest management professionals throughout the United States. He can be reached at

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