Growing clients by referral


October 2, 2023

Fernando Torres

Fernando Torres
Photo: David Huff Photography

Fernando Torres loves to see the look on people’s faces when he tells the story of how his company, CimeX Control Pest Management, came to be. Back in 2017, Torres had been working in landscaping for about eight years.

One morning, as he took a shower, a German cockroach ran across his bathroom window. Killing it not only took care of the (immediate) problem, but also sparked inspiration: He had been contemplating starting up a company of his own, so why not start a pest control company instead of a landscaping business?

After all, Torres already had his pest control license to keep current with his employer’s pest control division. But while he had enough knowledge to have passed the test, he felt he was not yet ready to go toe-to-toe with other pest management professionals (PMPs) in his market of Scottsdale, Ariz. That changed quickly with the support of his wife and CimeX co-owner, Ann Torres.

“She is the main reason this all happened,” Torres says, noting that as they were raising two small children, it was a big leap of faith. “She believed I should become my own boss and simply told me, ‘I will support the household, you go get us a great business.’”

That’s exactly what Torres did — learning by watching YouTube videos and training with industry vendors. Looking back, he points to that ground-level experience as being a benefit, because it forced him to look outside the box.

“I started with five accounts, all of which were my friends. They gave me a chance to ‘practice’ at their homes,” he recalls with a laugh.

“Because I was close with each of them, I wanted them to know I was doing everything properly and never cutting corners. I took the time to educate them and show them everything I was doing.

“Each of them told me they really appreciated that aspect, because it allayed a lot of fears they had about pesticides and pest control company processes in the past,” he continues. “They told their friends and families about me, and the word-of-mouth business really took off.”

In fact, Torres says, most of CimeX’s clients are referrals: “Our clients are our sales force.”

Expanding the business

Within two years, the Torreses hired their first technician. Today, they have a lead technician, four technicians and an office manager — and are looking to continue to grow. A possible expansion to the Tucson, Ariz., and Las Vegas, Nev., markets is on the horizon.

“They are similar markets, and we have clients with properties in those markets,” notes Torres, whose main client categories today are industrial, commercial and homeowners associations (HOAs). “Our plan is to finish 2023 at $1.5 million, 2024 at
$2 million, and 2025 at $3 million. With the expansions, I could see ourselves possibly being at $4 million by the end of 2025.”

Torres says he learned a lot from growing so quickly within seven years, and still has occasion to jump in a truck to help a route as the need arises. He also says his team is what has led to CimeX’s success, and to him, the key was to begin with them just the way he had started: with zero pest control experience.

Photo: David Huff Photography

In addition to co-owners Fernando and Ann Torres, the CimeX team is comprised of, from left, technicians Grady Moss and Mike Hood; office manager Sarah Helton; technicians Brady Stout and Keith Valenzuela; and lead technician Jerrett Jensen. Photo: David Huff Photography

“This way, you can train them the way you want and not have to break any bad habits they might have picked up otherwise,” Torres continues, joking that “they are putty and you can mold them.”

He also says cross-training employees has led to fast growth, because as service needs arise, his team already knows what to do for termite control, bird work, power spraying, etc.

Fostering loyalty

To help build loyalty, he says he treats employees like family. “We hold fun events every quarter with our team, and pay them while they are out there having fun,” Torres explains.

What really builds loyalty and success? Torres says it’s about getting rid of the “vampire” clients who “suck the fun out of your company.”

“If you have negative clients, eliminate them,” he says. “Let another company deal with them. Interview your prospects to make sure they are going to fit your business model, because they very well may not.

“Money is not the key,” Torres concludes. “Compatibility with your clients is the key.”

COMPANY NAME: CimeX Control Pest Management
HEADQUARTERS: Scottsdale, Ariz.
2022 REVENUE: $1.1 million
PROJECTED 2023 REVENUE: $1.5 million
1. The client is not always right. Listen to your staff and get both sides of any complaint before taking action. Employees also often have great ideas on ways to improve the business. Do your best on their behalf, and they will do their best for you.
2. Consider profit-sharing. We share our revenues with our team because we believe they should be able to benefit from their hard work. It also makes them take that much more pride in doing the best job possible, because it’s their company, too.
3. Communicate with your clients. Ask them what other businesses are doing and see what you can do better. Spend time with them, showing what you do and how you do it. You will be surprised how interested they are in your business.

About the Author

Heather Gooch

Heather Gooch is the editor-in-chief for PMP magazine. She can be reached at or 330-321-9754.

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