PMPs: Be generous with your industry knowledge

By |  April 2, 2018

With the author, who is fourth from left, are AZPPO’s Corey Malmin, Tim Goeringer, Fred Willey and Tracy Unmacht.
Photo: AZPPO

In February 2017, I had the unenviable task of being the follow-up speaker behind PMP Hall of Famer Dr. Austin Frishman at the PMP Growth Summit in Orlando, Fla. I worked very hard on my presentation, but I knew I could never match Dr. Frishman’s delivery or content.

While I was giving my speech, I noticed one person was taking lengthy notes … Dr. Frishman. By the time I finished speaking, you could’ve wrung out a gallon of sweat from my shirt. Afterward, I searched out Dr. Frishman and asked him why he was taking notes on my speech. He told me he has volumes of information that he takes from every presentation he attends.

I was utterly blown away.

He asked me how I felt about my performance, and I told him I was disappointed because I was white-knuckle-nervous during the entire talk. Many of my jokes fell flat, and I stumbled a few times. (Editor’s Note: No, he didn’t!) I was incredibly nervous speaking to this impressive group of people, which included Mike Rottler, Bobby Jenkins, David Cooksey and Court Parker, to name just a few.

Dr. Frishman looked at me sideways and told me that my presentation wasn’t as bad as I thought, and that even he still gets butterflies before his speeches. He told me it was perfectly normal. He also told me a presenter should be a little anxious — “otherwise, you’re not giving your best.”
 

Arizona opportunities

Recently, I had a chance to redeem myself at the Arizona Pest Professionals’ (AZPPO’s) first-ever Tri-Annual Business Forum. Education Chair Fred Willey, ACE, president of Invader Pest Management, Glendale, Ariz., reached out to me and asked whether I would share my insights on growing a business.

I jumped at the chance. I rewrote my Summit presentation and added some Google slides. I know this speech was better — only two people fell asleep this time — but I’m starting to see a pattern of what does and does not work. Obviously, the more presentations I give, my delivery will improve.

What I loved about the AZPPO presentation, though, actually occurred after my talk.

When I flew into Phoenix, I knew I was the keynote speaker. What I didn’t realize, until that morning, was that I was also going to be the facilitator for the second session. I had 20 minutes in-between my speech and the second session to come up with some topics on business growth. Shockingly, it worked out great. We had nearly 90 minutes of in-depth conversation on company visions, and how to reach those visions/goals. The discussion was lively, energetic and incredibly useful. I felt like every business owner gave uncensored insight into their businesses, sharing with the competition.

It was refreshing to see business people share and receive information without worrying whether their competition was going to steal from them. One of the tidbits I contributed was how I love to keep stats on all my techs.

I was also impressed at the humility in the room. No one dominated the conversation or claimed their vision was better than anyone else’s. Fred’s goal is to help many of these Arizona companies grow their businesses during 2018, and to monitor that growth collectively.

One way to do that is by having two more meetings this year. We will break down each company’s growth (or lack of growth) and come up with strategic plans to maintain or increase profits. To establish a starting point, I asked each company to give me an idea of what they planned to do to increase their bottom line before our next gathering. Here are some of the ideas thrown around:

  • Hire a sales staff.
  • Branch out into a new category (wildlife, mosquitoes, termites, bed bugs, etc.).
  • Increase search engine optimization (SEO) presence.
  • Improve company culture.
  • Trim the fat.

I loved visiting with Fred and his fellow AZPPO members. They are a group of pros trying to improve our industry. My goal is to help raise the industry bar: The more pest control companies that are performing quality work, the more professional we all become — and the more money we can charge for our services.

As I write this, I will soon be going to Las Vegas to participate in an informal symposium on pest control. Dozens of owners will be there, talking about their businesses and how we can all improve the way we do business. I also will be giving a presentation to the New Mexico Pest Management Association. My cohort in crime, Green Earth Pest Control President Josh Alpert, will join me to talk about pricing in our industry.

This is an exciting time to be in pest control. For decades, professionals such as Dr. Frishman, Dr. Bobby Corrigan, Paul Hardy, Paul Bello and Dr. Harold Harlan have been mentoring us. Now, it is our turn to give back. There are some fascinating young business people in our industry, and I love exchanging information with them. Share the wealth!

Pete Schopen is president of McHenry, Ill.-based Schopen Pest Solutions. You can reach him at 847-529-BUGS or pete@schopenpest.com.

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