Opportunities to make money abound, if you’re willing to work for them


March 25, 2021


By fourth grade, the author was both a groovy dresser and a full-fledged chaw addict. PHOTO: PETE SCHOPEN

When I was 9 years old, I started chewing tobacco.

I know what you’re thinking: “What 9-year-old chooses to dip chaw over Fun Dip?”

The truth is that four decades ago, being a kid was very different. “The Bad News Bears” came out in 1976, showing the coach drinking and his players smoking. Preteens used to jump bikes over their supine-stationed siblings. Kids were able to stay out late playing Ghost in the Graveyard. In June 1978, a month after my 9th birthday, I found a package of Beech-Nut chewing tobacco in the back of the family freezer.

I snuck the pouch out of the house while my parents were at work. I threw up the first time, but after a month I got the hang of it and I was as lethal with my spit as Clint Eastwood. That summer, me and my buddies had marathon sessions with Monopoly, each of us with a spit-cup between our legs.

Chaw is a messy and disgusting habit, and I loved every minute of it, until scary pictures of mouth cancer shown to me by my high school football coach cured me of it. Also, teenage girls tend to be turned off by yellow teeth.

But back to 9-year-old me: I needed to replace the tobacco that I stole from the freezer, and I wanted a stash of my own. So, my friends and I would wake up at 6 a.m. on Saturdays, and ride our bikes to every bar in town. We’d dumpster-dive for bottles and aluminum cans. The recycling center was less than a mile from my house, so we would get there at 8 a.m. to drop off bags of cans. We collected so many recyclables, we needed to tie a red wagon to the back of my bike to haul our booty and get some cash.

From there, we would ride over to the convenience store and buy our tobacco. At first, we told the store owner it was for our dads (another thing from the ’70s), but after a while, he didn’t care and had the Beech-Nut, Happy Days, Skoal and Copenhagen waiting for us.


I’m telling you this tale from my youth because I’ve always liked making money. I realized at a young age that if I wanted something, I had to have money to get it. I’ve also always understood that there are a million different ways to earn money.

I think in our industry, we worry so much about “packages” and “bundling” that we don’t leave ourselves much room to upsell. That’s a huge mistake that many start-up (and a few established) companies make, because it is like leaving money on the table.

Obviously, we want to turn our new clients into long-lasting quarterlies. And once we have them as quarterly clients, we want to upsell them on our other products. But what about one-and-dones, like wasp jobs? Do you have a follow-up procedure in place to reach out to wasp clients, cockroach clients, bed bug clients? Never let them slip through your fingers without at least attempting to get them signed up for regular treatments.


In October 2020, Schopen Pest Solutions mailed power spray order forms for 2021 to all of our stinging insect clients from the previous summer. In 2020, we serviced 472 stinging insect jobs. Of those 472 clients, 50 accepted our order forms, and signed up for a full summer of exterior treatments in 2021. We will make nearly $15,000 more this year simply by switching more than
10 percent of those one-and-dones to regular-paying clients. Most of them will renew for years to come.

Some other ways we grab additional business include:

  • Sending “welcome” letters to new homeowners who moved into a house that our company had previously serviced.
  • Mapping out communities where we currently have clients with mosquitoes, voles, pavement ants, etc., and hitting them with mailers.
  • Calling rodent clients from the previous year who canceled due to a lack of funds or a lack of a problem, and seeing whether they want a yearly check-up. This is usually done during the winter when it is slow.
  • Mailing “Early Bird Wasp” forms to clients who didn’t respond to our power spray letter in October. In other words, the 422 stinging insect clients who didn’t respond to our initial letter are getting the form as I type this in mid-February.

When our technicians are in need of extra work hours during the winter, we have them call our power spray clients who haven’t renewed yet. In December alone, our techs signed up more than $50,000 worth of exterior treatments for 2021. As a team, we also offer upsells for:

  • Baiting for silverfish in attics.
  • Annual exterior ant treatments.
  • Quarterly, exterior-only rodent services.
  • Exclusion work for rodents.

You may wonder whether I have any addictions since chaw is no longer one of them. Well, I do: the Robinhood phone app. I’m finding new money with crypto!

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

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