‘First Five’ share lessons learned


December 22, 2023

Photo: cagkansayin / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Photo: cagkansayin / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Growing a business is a lot like raising a child. You try to do what is right, but sometimes you fail miserably. For example, during my 17 years of growing Schopen Pest Solutions, I did some boneheaded things. Lowlights include:

  • I’ve forgotten to renew my license.
  • I had to fire my brother.
  • I hired my first tech too early in the process and had to let him go.
  • I fumbled my way through the COVID-19 crisis.
  • I shied away from wildlife services when I should’ve doubled down.
  • I had to fire six people with one swing of the ax because I let company culture erode.
  • I overpaid on a workers’ compensation insurance audit.

This past year, I’ve mentored and watched five start-up companies maneuver their way through the tricky labyrinth of owning a business. While in many ways they have exceeded expectations, they have also felt the growing pains of being entrepreneurs. Today, we are going to wrap up 2023 with a look back at our 2023 Start-up Companies: 1-Stop Pest Control, Evans Termite and Pest Control, Resolve Pest Management, Sasquatch Pest Control, and Tailor Made Pest Control.

Mission accomplished

Hands down, the most important goal for our start-up companies was to make sure they grew financially — in both their customer base and their business acumen. My mission was to help them navigate barriers or obstacles in the way of their growth. Just like a proud papa, I’m happy to say all five companies grew by double digits.

2023 Start-Up Stories

Evans Termite and Pest Control, for example, grew by 42 percent this year over 2022. That’s an increase of $123,000 for Nicole Gorman and Tim Ivey! Sasquatch Pest Control grew so much this year that the brothers from Washington, Tyson and Kristofer Elling, hired their first full-time tech. Christian Allan of Tailor Made Pest Control more than doubled his revenue and hired his first full-time applicator. Carlos Lugo of Resolve Pest Management grew his company to the point where he now has two trucks, bought a house, and hired a seasonal worker this summer. Finally, my good friends at 1 Stop Pest Control shattered their 2023 goals: Bill and Angie Richter were shooting for $545,000, or 25 percent growth. They will finish closer to $650,000 — 62 percent growth over 2022.

Year in review

I asked our hard-working entrepreneurs what they did right this year to achieve their goals:

  • Lugo cleaned up his website and increased his networking with local businesses.
  • Allan said hiring the new tech has allowed him to focus more on the wildlife side of his company.
  • Gorman created a structured training program to get new hires in the field more quickly.

I also asked them about what didn’t go quite as planned:

  • Angie Richter reported her team totaled two trucks.
  • Gorman lamented they’ve had a tough time finding the right people.
  • Kristofer Elling admitted a lack of foresight when hiring the first tech led to some financial strains (equipment, taxes, etc.).
  • Allan said that while he and the team have been receiving a decent amount of leads daily, they need to work harder on converting them to sales. He plans to focus on sales training in the new year to mitigate the issue.

Looking forward to 2024, I asked them for one BHAG, or big hairy audacious goal:

  • Gorman: Triple their commercial division.
  • Richter: Hit $850,000 in revenue.
  • Kristofer Elling: Open a wildlife and insulation service division.
  • Allan: Get off a regular route to manage his business.

Last, but not least, I asked them about the “Start-up Stories” experience:

  • Gorman: “Pete has taught me to get out of my comfort zone and try new things to get the results that I want.”
  • Angie Richter: “Working with Pete really helped us understand our [key performance indicators, or] KPIs for our business, helping us hit our goals.”
  • Kristofer Elling: “If you want to play with the big dogs, you’ve got to know what games they are playing. Pete helped us understand that aspect of business.”
  • Allan: “Pete helped me realize the importance of numbers, especially through using KPIs.”
  • Lugo: “We all need a shove! Having Zoom meetings with Pete inspired me. Seeing everyone else’s stories in Pest Management Professional made me want to do better.”

Thank you, First Five, for letting us peek into your pest control businesses. We have selected four new companies for 2024, and I am excited to introduce them to you next month. Happy Holidays and God bless!

About the Author

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Schopen is owner of RV There Yet Pest Consulting and my email is rvthereyetpest@gmail.com.

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