Chase and Leah Hazelwood remember well the day back in 2009 that they sat with Chase’s parents, Chuck and Suzanne, to talk about Go-Forth’s company website. They had taken over the business decades before from Suzanne’s parents, Frank and Johnie Goforth, who had founded it in 1959. Chuck and Suzanne knew quite well the ins and outs of pest control, and yet here were their son and daughter-in-law, with their business and marketing degrees, talking to them about creating a budget line just for something that resided on a computer. Where was the return on investment?
“Chuck heard us out, and then said, ‘Well, I trust you guys, but don’t come to me in five years and tell me you need a new one,’” Leah recalls with a laugh. “Chase and I looked at each other, because we knew we’d need another redesign way before five years were out. This was right when people were starting to get comfortable with shopping online, when Amazon was starting to blow up. We knew potential customers wanted to research us, and learn as much as they could before calling our office.”
But Chuck’s trust was well-placed: The green light for a revamped website was the start of several stepping-stones to growth with Chase and Leah on board the leadership team. And there was a learning curve on both sides, of course. An ambitious Chase soon learned that “ideas are cheap, execution is everything.”
“There was some pushback from the older generation on certain things because ‘if it were that easy, don’t you think we would have done it already?’” he explains. “And in some cases, they were right. But in a lot of cases, a fresh set of eyes on a problem meant that we as a team could tackle it, and solve it.”
By the time Chase became president, he knew he needed to stop micro-managing (“I was really good at telling people they were doing it wrong,” he quips) and start looking at the bigger picture.
The biggest transformation came from formalizing new marketing and quality assurance plans. Next came implementing scripts for sales, so every office person and technician could feel confident about what they said to customers. There were also more sales hires, so the onus didn’t have to be on every employee. “We hire customer experience people for our sales team, and we teach them the rest,” Chase says.
As a result, he adds, for the past several years, sales have soared right alongside company morale.