Author’s Note: For the July issue of Pest Management Professional, Senior Editor Diane Sofranec asked all of the magazine’s columnists and Editorial Advisory Board members, “How do you set your company apart from competitors?” You may notice my answer doesn’t appear on p. 10 of that issue, nor does it appear on the “uncut for space version” on MyPMP.net. That’s because to me, this is an incredibly important question — and I’ve got a lot to say.
Everyone thinks, “My company is not like anyone else’s.” But when it comes down to it, how different is it really? For my company, the answer to this question has changed and evolved over time.
In the early years, we focused our brand-building on expertise. I have a degree in entomology and have worked in the industry since I was about 12. I also leaned on the fact that “I, the owner, am going to be the person treating your home or facility, and I will care for you like no one else will.”
Fast-forward a few years, with growth and a good reputation, and we shifted focus to how much experience we had as a combined company. “More than 75 years of experience” was counting my years along with everyone else’s years of working at the company.
Now, we have been blessed to have grown a successful business, but today it is not about what we do, or how we do it. Rather, it’s about who we are that matters in both our internal messaging to employees and external messaging and branding to customers and potential customers. Our mission statement is:
ABC serves the general public, our co-workers, our families, and God. We place value on H.U.G.S.: humor, unfaltering integrity, growth, and selflessness.
We are a company that takes care of our co-workers and their families. We also take care of our customers and their families. Last but not least, we take care of the communities we serve. By looking into how your company can give back to local groups and populations, you show real commitment to your community, and that is not something very many other companies do.
At ABC, we decided to take care of many of the organizations in our area that care for others by creating ABC’s Anteater Advocates, an internal organization devoted to volunteerism that is led by my wife, Jennifer. Its motto is Caring for those who Care for others. Today, we are known more for who we are than for what we do. We currently care for more than 125 different organizations and locations in our area — free of charge.
I look at the money we save these groups, and consider that they would have had to take in at least two times the money it would cost to pay our bill. Combine that with the fact that our direct expenses to perform the service is about 45 percent of the value of the service, and what costs me $45 has a value to the organization of $200.
For many years, we did this quietly. But in 2019, I wrote a letter to the current leaders of the organizations — many of whom were unaware we were donating services — to educate them on what we do for them and the value of what we did. As a result, we have had a fairly constant stream of people wanting to thank us at events. Many of them take pictures to post on social media, spreading awareness of our brand organically. Again, who we are is becoming more known than just what we do.
In addition to just being the “right thing” to do in this world, helping the less fortunate — our focus on others — is the most compelling reason from an entrepreneurial perspective to choose to do business with us over anyone else. It certainly seems to have worked so far.
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