Passing around the hats


April 25, 2023

Jerry Schappert

Jerry Schappert

“It’s OK, I’ll do it.” I wish I could just banish this sentence from my vocabulary. Alas, it just rolls off my tongue and when it does, I almost always regret it.

At Bug Doctor, there are only seven of us to pack in all the work for the day. It’s a small company, but don’t let that fool you as we are busier than ever. I sometimes wonder how we get it all done.

Am I alone in thinking this way? I think not. I speak to many friends in my area and they, too, are having a tough time keeping up. Regardless of company size, things need to get done to keep the engine running, and sometimes that means managers need to wear a couple of different hats.

Now, wearing an extra hat here and there is OK, but are you wearing five? Six? More? I’ll be honest, on most days I am wearing about a dozen. And although the work gets done and I know it’s right, that’s just not where business is humming along at its best.

Task-filled workdays

Here’s a look at my typical day:

  • Restocking product, keeping track of inventory, and ordering more product.
  • Performing quality assurance (QA) checks to make sure our service is top-notch.
  • Training and taking the time needed to plan for a meeting, only to see blank stares and a tech gazing out the window wanting to go home.
  • Sprayer leaking? Rig making a funny noise? Yep, that’s me putting on my mechanic’s hat.
  • Big termite job comes in? Me.
  • Customer with bed bugs? You guessed it.
  • Hiring new employees.
  • Handling fleet management.
  • Conducting wood-destroying organism (WDO) inspections.
  • Developing ad campaigns.
  • Tracking sales and revenue numbers.

Oh my, I have a headache just reading what I wrote.

On top of all this, I’m keeping track of 13,000 members of my Pest Cemetery Facebook group and oh yeah, writing a monthly column for my favorite industry magazine. Don’t get me wrong, this is not (just) me saying “poor me”; rather, it’s a wake-up call. What I listed seems like far too many hats to be wearing, and I’ll bet so many of you could list just as many tasks, and perhaps more.

Don’t spread yourself thin

The labor pool is not what it used to be, so some of this is unavoidable. However, if your list came close to or even outnumbered mine, you have a problem. It’s just too much work for one person. Even if you do it all, are you doing it at the highest level? There’s only so much energy in a body and only so much time in a day.

Even as I’m typing this column, I am self-reflecting. I need to make some changes. As I see it, it’s time to delegate some tasks to other capable staff members.

Perhaps I can offer one more training class on how to fix a handheld sprayer and then boom, that task will be out of my hair. I have one certified operator besides myself, so perhaps I can have him run some QAs?

When looking at my list, I realize I really don’t have to do it all. Maybe it’s time I realize a lot of hats need to be worn to run a solid business, but I have only one head.

The Pest Cemetery Crew

“Sometimes, there are hat-wearing seasons you have to go through. That’s just the way it is. Tell yourself it won’t be forever. With time, it’s something you eventually will pass through. Delegating is a risky, but necessary thing. If you have someone you can trust, just roll with it. Luckily, I rely on my son, who has taken the lead on many fronts.”
— Lance Griggs, Owner, Spectrum Pest Management, Huntsville Ala.

“You must have an infrastructure, no matter if you are a one-man show or trying to be a big company. You will drop balls and lose hats if you don’t.”
— Scott Ballard, Owner, Ballard Pest Management, Opelika, Ala.

“I was wearing all the hats until this past season. At times, it felt like I was drinking from a fire hose and I couldn’t focus on any specific area. It was tough to hand the reins to someone else after having been a two-man show for such a long time, but we now have a tech supervisor, administrative person and six techs, and we’ve never done more work. I know now that wearing all the hats was holding us back.”
— Sean Crowley, Co-owner, Pest Assassins, Smithfield, R.I.

About the Author

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SCHAPPERT is owner of The Bug Doctor, Ocala, Fla., and administrator for Facebook industry discussion group Pest Cemetery. He may be reached at

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