I don’t like change.
My wife gets frustrated with me because I have the same pullovers, hoodies and even underwear since we got married in 1991. My family and I are Lutherans; therefore, we sit in the same spot in the same pew every Sunday. If a new member happens to accidentally sit in our pew, we will walk sadly to the front of the church. (Lutherans never sit in the front row, because it is harder to take naps during Pastor’s sermon.) Except for one year in college, I’ve had the same haircut since second grade. (My freshman year at Kansas Wesleyan, I got a perm at my girlfriend’s request. She broke up with me soon after, so I got rid of the perm.)
I hate change so much, I still call the Willis Tower the Sears Tower and Christopher Reeve will always be my Superman. But slowly, I’m starting to learn that change is not only necessary, but it can be good for your company. Change can be invigorating. Change can jump-start your company when you are stagnant. Many of you have heard the expression, “Adapt or die!” I’ve chosen to adapt.
CASES IN POINT
- Bed bug treatments. When I started my company in 2006, I decided to stay away from bed bugs. Part of the problem was that I didn’t have a standard operating procedure (SOP) in place. Approximately five years ago, though, bed bugs were getting so bad in the Chicagoland area that some of my regular clients were getting them. I had no choice but to jump in — but I wanted an iron-clad way in which to tackle them. I came up with an SOP that worked very well for us. Then, three years ago, we made another change, switching to a fungicidal product that has made our bed bug jobs a slam dunk. We rarely have callbacks, and we usually eradicate the issue in just two or three visits.
- Mosquito treatments. Again, when I started Schopen Pest Solutions 16 years ago, I was so focused on quarterly clients that I didn’t push mosquito control services. But I eventually started performing mosquito control treatments with a power spray rig. Power spray rigs are expensive, they break down, and they put out a lot of product. So, a few years ago, we transitioned to backpack mister-blowers. I love these things. We are putting out a tenth of the chemical, the blowers are much cheaper, and they last for a long time. This year, we switched over to a green product to use in the blowers, and I have been very happy with the results.
- Going paperless. Two of my pest control buddies, Pete LaQualigia and Josh Alpert, like to tease me because I still use graph paper and green Cambridge stat sheets for keeping my key performance indicators (KPIs). But my office staff is forcing me to change. Within the past year, we stopped printing receipts in favor of emailing them. We downloaded all of our service agreements into our software program (we email those, too). Also, we are getting rid of our postcards — because, you guessed it, we are emailing reminders! This fall, we will be either emailing or using our customer portal to get our summer service contracts to our customers for renewal in 2023. In the past, we snail-mailed these order forms. By making these changes, though, we are saving thousands of dollars in printers, toner, printing companies, postage and man-hours.
- Switching from pickup trucks to vans and four-door cars. The problem with pickup trucks is that they are hard to keep organized. Face shields, gloves, rodent bait, glue boards, etc., all end up in the back of the truck getting covered in chemicals, gas and oil. Some techs also use the back of the truck as a garbage receptacle. Plus, the gas mileage for most pickup trucks isn’t great. At PestWorld 2021 in Las Vegas, Nev., I met some guys who equip vans with shelving units, ladder racks and more compartments than a Kardashian’s closet. They also wrap the trucks and deliver them. Recently, we’ve expanded our fleet with hatchback cars. They get superb gas mileage, and we can fit everything we need inside them, including an extendable, 12-foot ladder; a backpack sprayer; a service kit and several copies of Pest Management Professional magazine.
I’ve made several other, less-drastic changes, too, including:
- Company logo: I replaced our original Schopen Pest Solutions logo with a slick-looking 15th anniversary logo last year.
- Hair policy: My company manual states long hair is allowed for techs as long as they keep it tucked under their caps. In 2022, this is a battle I’m losing. Many of my techs have hair that would make Gisele Bündchen jealous.
- Pricing: Pricing is decided by my management team. We literally change something every month.
- Management team: Three years ago, I was still making all of the decisions at Schopen Pest Solutions. Now, very little happens without a consensus by our smart group of managers and supervisors.
- Service reminder process: Until three years ago, our office staff called every scheduled client the night before. Now, we use an automated system that calls, texts and emails.
- On-hold marketing: We recently hired a company to handle the background noise when a client is on hold.
- Quality control: One of the best things I’ve ever done is establish a quality control position. Kevin Thorn at Thorn Pest Solutions clued me in on creating this incredibly important position.
- Increased employee perks: Each year, I add another perk for my employees — paid time off, bonuses, paid holidays, health insurance, retirement, etc.
It seems the bigger we get, the faster the changes are occurring. We really need to get a Wisconsin service office up and running, and we need to improve our office training. As long as I own Schopen Pest Solutions, we will continue to upgrade and get better.
Have a great day! I’ve got to run; my wife is making me clean out my underwear drawer.
Schopen’s Open Book
Start-up: Schopen Pest Solutions Inc.
Headquarters: McHenry, Ill.
Founder: Peter F. Schopen Jr.
Start-up Date: April 11, 2006
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 50 (41 full-time, 1 part-time, 4 seasonal, 4 trainees)
2006 REVENUE: $97,235
2007 REVENUE: $172,495
2008 REVENUE: $203,732
2009 REVENUE: $243,427
2010 REVENUE: $325,960
2011 REVENUE: $425,847
2012 REVENUE: $489,887
2013 REVENUE: $572,772
2014 REVENUE: $687,326
2015 REVENUE: $858,180
2016 REVENUE: $1,079,068
2017 REVENUE: $1,478,600
2018 REVENUE: $1,877,496
2019 REVENUE: $2,095,118
2020 REVENUE: $2,398,367
2021 REVENUE: $3,295,259
2022 REVENUE TO-DATE: $2,071,730*
July REVENUE: $347,719**
2022 GOAL: $4,119,344
*Up 23% from 2021
**Up 14% from July 2021