For those of you who have been following my antics in this great magazine for the past 17 years, you know I tend to stretch myself too thin sometimes. By my fifth year in business, Schopen Pest Solutions was really taking shape. I had hired two techs and I was starting to form an idea of what my standard operating procedures (SOPs) and key performance indicators (KPIs) would look like.
Everything was going great. I was an elder at my church, I was on a bowling team, I was coaching a travel baseball team, I was writing on a regular basis for this magazine and my company was growing quickly. My only problem was that I was neglecting my wife and “queen,” Tami.
After some soul searching and very grown-up talks with the Queen, I gave up the bowling team, finished my term as an elder and reduced my workload. I promised to be home from work every day by 6 p.m., and we agreed to go on a minimum of two dates per month. Not only did doing all this save my marriage, it gave me perspective on the proper balance for home, work and outside activities.
A man on the go
I’m telling you all this because I see a lot of me in Christian Allan, owner of Tailor Made Pest Control in Louisville, Ky. He can’t sit still. Whether it is working on his business or helping his friend James Shields with the pet business Derby City Poop Scoop, Allan is always on the move.
Despite his additional side hustles, like promoting another friend’s charcuterie food company or being hired as a professional soap foamer for parties (yes, it’s a thing, and is especially a hit with kids), Allan is growing a solid pest control company. As I write this in mid-August, Allan is up 156 percent from this time in 2022. With the help of a full-time tech, Carrie, that he hired this summer, he is on pace to hit $282,000 in revenue.
While Tailor Made is growing, so are Allan’s outside interests. Are they too much? His wife, Contea, doesn’t think so.
“I’m very proud of all of the projects Christian is involved in,” the schoolteacher told me. She also added that, “I have an immense amount of respect for the way he shows up for everything he is involved in.”
What I like about Allan is his passion for our industry and the fun he has being a pest pro. He’s constantly learning from his peers and offering advice to other newbies. His Facebook posts are legendary, and there is no denying his love for social media. He works harder at social media than Ryan Reynolds does at selling Wrexham merchandise. He puts out posts faster than Keanu Reeves films movie sequels.
Some people fanatically cheer on the Georgia Bulldogs or New York Yankees; Allan gets goosebumps when someone likes his posts. “Posting is a stress release,” he told me. “I don’t let social media get in the way of my company, and I hope my posts are useful.”
Allan’s content is sometimes controversial, but always funny and intelligent. His wife agrees. “From the day I met him, he has been one of the funniest people I know.” She and I both enjoy his “bug funeral” stories.
Improving customer service
Getting back to business, Carrie runs the established route with regular clients so Allan is free to handle more jobs that he enjoys, like moles and wildlife. Having a technician has also helped him offer same-day services to his new clients, which has helped Tailor Made’s growth. Another benefit of having a tech is that Allan is now able to sit in the office once a week to catch up on paperwork, sales and customer service.
When we did his SWOT analysis in the spring (see Pest Management Professional’s May issue), Allan stated that two of his weaknesses were answering phone calls and customer service skills. Over the past few months, he has worked very hard with his office employee, Sara, on improving their responsiveness and empathy. One thing he’s done is listen to Sara while she is on the phone, and critique her conversations. A nice twist is that Sara is listening to him as well, and coaching him, too. The results have been fantastic. After working on their customer service and sales skills, they immediately signed up 70 new clients in July.
Winter is quickly approaching, and my bespectacled buddy already is looking ahead at working on a business model for his growing company. He wants to bundle more services, set up simpler pricing, and create SOPs for services. He fully expects to hire another tech next year, so he also wants to polish his managerial skills.
“I hope I’m not a jerk as a boss,” he said. After reflecting for a moment, he added, “I don’t necessarily want to be a ‘boss’; I want to manage my people without micromanaging.”
Allan enthusiastically follows some other “influencers” on Facebook such as Paul Bello (PJB Consulting); Sean Licalzi (Obex Pest Defense); Pest Daily founder Seth Garber; my fellow PMP columnist Jerry Schappert (Pest Cemetery); and the boys at The Pest Posse.
Allan says he learns a lot from these people, but he feels he has something to offer the industry, too. “I think other start-ups can learn from my struggles and hopefully, I’m influencing them through my hard work and humor.”
Don’t be surprised to see this article pop up on his Facebook page. Influence away, my friend!