More ‘magic’ from the Real Green conference


January 17, 2017

Real Green’s user conference, “Solutions 2017: The Magic of Marketing,” ended Jan. 13 with attendees abuzz about how much they were able to learn. The launch of its next-generation software, Service Assistant (SA) 5, has many new enhancements and features, and several break-out sessions were devoted to training and maximizing them for individual pest management and lawn care companies.

Gordon Book

Did you know that Dan’s book From Technician to CEO was recently chosen as part of the textbook curriculum for NPMA’s Executive Leadership Program? And that all proceeds are donated to charity? Photo: Dan Gordon

But several Real Green industry partners also gave presentations during the event, including PMP Financial Strategies columnist Dan Gordon, CPA. His Jan. 12 seminar focused on “10 Things Every Lawn Care Operator Needs to Know About Financial Statements.”

It was no easy task to choose among all the courses offered, but I was able to attend the following:

Tina Bacigalupo, a high school guidance counselor with a human resources background, presented a double session on “The Magic of Motivating and Retaining Talent.”

Tina Bacigalupo

If Tina’s last name rings a bell, her husband is Real Green’s System Manager Brian Bacigalupo. Photo: PMP Staff

Bacigalupo spoke at length on the importance of having the right people in the right positions at your company, and keeping them motivated. Motivation is personal, she said: “If you can tap into that, you can have significant influence with your employees, and in your life.”

But she pointed out that people are motivated by different things. Money, prestige, time off, flexible schedules, pleasant work environment — it’s important to know what is going to keep employees loyal and productive. To that end, Bacigalupo began the second half of the session with even more interaction:


When the color bracelets came out, we knew we were in for something interesting.Photo: PMP Staff

It turns out Bacigalupo is also a certified trainer in Real Colors. Attendees filled out a personality profile, and we learned what each of four categories meant from a motivation and happiness standpoint. Naturally, she noted, “we’re all a ‘swirl’ of the blue, gold, green and orange, but the dominant color usually is a good indicator on how we learn and on what makes us happy.”

Andy Yavello Photo: Dan Gordon

“I talk to way too many people who only send statements when it rains,” lamented Andy Yavello. Photo: PMP Staff

American Profit Recovery’s Andy Yavello had a full room for “Collections 101.” His three keys to recouping as many late payments as you can include:

  1. Invoice at time of service.
  2. Educate customer on the price of their program, so there is no misunderstanding when they receive their invoice. One attendee noted that recording every phone call that comes into the office has been beneficial, as there have been instances where a wife calls to complain she did not authorize a service, yet can be sent a .wav file of her husband’s voice on a previous call doing exactly that.
  3. Train your staff to keep after delinquent payments.
Jonathan Ferrick Photo: Dan Gordon

Jonathan Ferrick stated that even for a company with fewer than 10 employees, the mean cost per hour of having their software system down can average $6,220. “You can’t afford not to have some data protection strategy in place,” he said. Photo: PMP Staff

Carbonite’s Jonathan Ferrick had some sobering statistics about the security of business software. He cited a study where the actual risk factors for data loss were as follows:

  • Manmade disasters: 49 percent.
  • Technology failures: 29 percent.
  • Security incidents: 22 percent.

Just about every small business has some measure of protection for their software, be it cloud storage, anti-virus software, digital protection, off-site backups — or ideally, some combination thereof. Among the excellent advice Ferrick shared throughout his presentation was to test your backup system periodically.

“Have you ever tried to restore something from your backup when you have to? You’re in a panic. That is not when you want to test its effectiveness,” he quipped.

Fred Haskett

Fred Haskett noted that add-on services can generate high gross margins (+/- 50 percent) and usually are total of 20 percent to 30 percent or more of the annual contract value. Photo: PMP Staff

Fred Haskett of The Harvest Group joked that he “had a 42-year internship to become a consultant.” But his vast landscape and pest management experience has made him more than qualified to talk about add-on services.

“Done properly,” he said, add-ons can “bring down overhead and cost for producers to sell the work and crews to implement.”

To that end, Christmas Decor Franchise Consultant Mike Donahue gave a mini “Discovery Day” presentation to attendees of his break-out session, noting how holiday lighting business can majorly boost revenue during the off-season.

“We not only help you diversify services, but attract affluent clients,” Donahue pointed out.

The last double session I attended before we moved over to the wonderful Vendor Reception (complete with a tasty mashed potato bar!), was presented by Bell Labs’ Patrick Lynch. He had assumed that he would be presented rodent basics to lawn care professionals looking to expand their services, but many of the sessions’ attendees were pest management professionals looking to expand their rodent knowledge. Lynch was able to address both groups.

Patrick Lynch

Bell’s Patrick Lynch noted that new industry labeling is giving professionals the opportunity to add voles to their rodent repertoire. Photo: PMP Staff

Lynch underscored the importance of rodent control in a technologically connected world by noting even one single mouse sighting can cause a negative review on Yelp for a commercial account: “And once that goes viral, it’s out of your hands.”

To ensure zero tolerance for rodents, he added, “You have to take it seriously and price it seriously.”


About the Author

Heather Gooch

Heather Gooch is the editor-in-chief for PMP magazine. She can be reached at or 330-321-9754.

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