How to equip employees with tech for success

|  August 9, 2016

I get many inquiries from other pest management professionals (PMPs), and one of the most commonly asked questions is about the equipment I furnish for my technicians.

construction hard hat with glowes and goggles

Photo: ©istock.com/Adam Smigielski

Every tech is different. Some are like Inspector Gadget and want every tool under the sun. Other employees aren’t very mechanically inclined, so they don’t need a lot of extra tools in their trucks. What follows is a list of basic items that we supply, and what each item costs.

  • Vehicle: $36,000. Each tech gets the latest model Toyota Tacoma truck. No one else — including me — ever uses the truck. A tech will perform a better service if he knows exactly what he has on his truck and where it is stored. I firmly believe that if you rotate trucks among employees, something will get lost, forgotten or stolen. It’s just easier and better to keep techs in their own work trucks. The techs love it because they can personalize their vehicles. The only thing I forbid is adding political bumper stickers.
  • Gas: $4,000. That’s an annual cost per vehicle. Ugh!
  • Power sprayer: $3,000. Each truck is supplied with a power sprayer rig that runs on a Honda open-air engine with a Hypro pump (290 psi) and 300 ft. of hose. It also features a J9-gun and a 50-gallon tank. This setup upsets my dad: When he was running Mid Central Pest Control, he would throw together power spray rigs for around $900. The problem is, his pumps were faulty and were using electric motors that wore down faster than a gas-powered motor would. Plus, if I have an issue with a sprayer, I can take it back to the manufacturer to get it fixed. I gladly pay more money to have fewer problems.
  • Red Gasoline Pump Nozzle on White Background

    Photos: ©istock.com/James Brey

    Truck top and ladder rack: $1,800. I pay waaaayyy too much for these items, but I like the security the setup gives us. The equipment stays dry during the summer, and it’s harder for it to freeze during the Chicago winters. Also, if my tech needs to take a truck home overnight, he can lock his pesticides and equipment inside.

  • Safety equipment: $200. This includes goggles, hard hat, respirators, face shield, gloves, etc.
  • Service kit with sprayer and bulb duster: $300. We get the large square kits to fit an 18-in. wand. I also give my techs an empty, plastic coffee container to keep their tubes of ant and cockroach bait gel, a small wrench, two larger wrenches and anything else they can use for their day-to-day jobs. On top of that, each tech receives a $30 cleanup kit for chemical spills.
  • Uniforms: $345. This breaks down further to six shirts ($200), a spring jacket and winter coat ($120), and a logo-emblazoned baseball cap ($15). They supply their own work pants and shoes.
  • One seminar per year: $50. I do not pay for their licenses or continuing education (to maintain their licenses) because I don’t own their licenses, they do. If they leave Schopen Pest Solutions, their licenses go with them.
  • Stack of touchscreen smartphones isolated on white

    Photo: ©istock.com/Sashkinw

    Cell phones: $55 per month. I supply my techs with their own phones and data. Our data usage is 20GB per month, which is more than enough. I run my entire company from my cell phone, and I use less than 2GB per month.

Because I buy new phones every two years, we usually get our replacement phones for free.

You know the old expression, “You are only as good as your weakest link?” It’s why I try to level the playing field for my techs and make them all feel comfortable with their jobs. If I can offer them as many tools of the trade as possible, it can only help them to succeed. If I give them rundown trucks, second-hand sprayers and bulb dusters wrapped in duct tape, they will be behind the eight ball from the start. Needless to say, there are also safety issues with poor equipment.

As you move from being a one- or two-person operation and you are looking to hire employees, try to be the employer who buys techs knee pads or a flathead screw driver — not the one who puts a vending machine in the break room and charges $2 per soda.


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: 7
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: $687,326 (one part-time and six full-time employees)
2015 Revenue: $858,180; (one part-time and seven full-time employees)
2016 JUNE: $87,035 ($20,000 more than June 2015)
2016 First SIX Months: $447,566 ($120,000 more than last year)
2016 Projection: $1,081,306 (10 full-time employees)

Contributor Pete Schopen is president of McHenry, Ill.-based Schopen Pest Solutions, and can be reached at 847-529-BUGS or pete@schopenpest.com.

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