Single Operator Setbacks And Keeping The Faith

It can be lonely out there on your own and you find yourself dreaming of that day when you send your 5th truck out for the days run and you head back inside your cozy office. Diane is on the phone diligently scheduling your routes a week ahead of time and Renee is entering yesterdays receipts. You fill your stainless steel mug up with coffee and head out to the shop for a bit of inventory and some B&G repairs. You pass by the meeting room and you take a look at the production board and you see Tom is on fire with a $5000.00 week and Deb had a $1200 dollar sale which was the envy of the office. The rest of the boys might need to step it up but all in all you’re satisfied with the month so far and for a brief moment you have a sense of real accomplishment flow through your mind like a warm gentle wind.

Is this your dream? It should be and don’t let anyone tell you you’re wasting your time thinking this way. Don’t allow anyone to sell you short and hinder you from making this dream a reality.

If you’re interested you can read my story of how I started my company and you’ll see I am just like you. I had advantages that others haven’t (mainly my wife) but I shared a lot of the disadvantages too. This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive article on every set back, just some common ones and if you get anything from this writing I hope it will be inspiration or comfort in the fact that you realize you are not alone.

Filling The Glass To Half Empty

It’s a big day when you strike out to conquer the world and one can’t help but think that everybody is gonna want your service. After-all you do great work, why would anybody turn you down? Somewhere down the road and usually not to far you find out your loud roar of “choose me” falls on deaf ears in an uninterested world. Sure you sell your Mom or the neighbor but when you run out of the close lay down sales you find that it isn’t so easy to knock em down like you did when you worked for somebody else. This is the time when you suddenly become aware- you’re alone-For some this epiphany is strong, for most the empty feeling of not having help can swallow you up and this is normally when your first seeds of doubt take root. This is most often the first setback.

End of the month bills come in rain or shine and the lack of sales is very frustrating. You redouble your efforts to get on out there and try to sell somebody- anybody– that one big job that will set you on track. Your distributor is somewhat forgiving but you need some fly bait for a job that perhaps you over promised on and you’re a little leery about going in to place your order. Gas is a killer and you start planning your day a little smarter so you only go across town once even if you have to sit for two hours to see that next prospect that won’t be home till 5. You burn up the phones as much as possible and even call your Uncle who swore he’d have you when you started your own service but now 3 times he has put you off. Credit cards are tempting and you just know next week you’ll get that $450.00 mobile home for sub work so you buy yourself a little more time with a piece of plastic that seems pretty harmless. Lack of sales but no lack in bills is another setback.

It’s been 6 months now maybe more and you’re treading water still with no dry ground in sight and you need some new ticket books, an oil change and the rope from your used rig just keeps on breaking. You’ve picked up some decent accounts but you wished they were monthly because suddenly a quarterly service seems like an eon between visits. You could use that money for the new back pack you need but for now a .60 cent hose clamp holds the fragile pump arm in place. The luster of your truck is somewhat wore off and although you have the time you don’t wash and wax it so much. You contemplate a second job (if you don’t have one already) and you convince yourself you can get another 10,000 miles on those old tires as you park at the curb because you have something that has started to leak and you don’t want to stain any driveways. Untimely equipment breakdowns are a huge setback.

The biggest setback is the one that has been growing in your mind as each day drags on and there seems like no break through is coming. The victories are small and you begin to resent the tiny jobs you sell because the big ones are reluctant to give you a chance. You don’t have any advantage over the bigger companies, no track record or back up and customers are wary of spending their money with someone who might not be around. Friends disappoint you, contacts suddenly won’t answer their phones and you just want to scream out loud the next time someone says something about your ‘little company.’ You’re no longer fearful of not making it because you can see that you’re not. Each day is a struggle like a tug of war and you’re right there on the edge.

The tide begins to change

Friday you have 6 accounts that have cycled around so your pretty psyched about that even though that’s 4 days away. Somehow this translates into a spark of confidence and you get the call that Mrs. Jones wants that termite work you pitched. You still have a lot of time so you perform above and beyond for every job you do and you’re just a little more assertive when you ask for a referral. You didn’t realize it but next week you have 20 regular services due and even though the route looks pretty bleak after that you take heart and feel good that you are standing on a building block you made in spite of all the setbacks. You continue to scratch and claw but each day brings you closer to clients that are waiting for their regular service and bit by bit you fill in the days with an account here and a job there. You still have bad days and things and people still betray you but you’ve seen that ray of hope and you continue on more determined then ever to bridge that gap and realize your dream. It could take months or years for any of this to happen and with each step forward you gain momentum.

The time comes when your route is strong and a Friday off is a luxury you actually have to plan for. You’re not Donald Trump yet but fewer people turn you away thinking you’re just a flash in the pan. You’ve made some great new contacts that want to give you business and even some of your old fair weathered ones are now looking you up. You’ve got some new tires on your truck and you share a joke with your distributor as you tuck away 4 boxes of product that would have set you back a lifetime not so long ago. Each piece of this puzzle is coming together at a steady pace and you have your eye on that shiny new Ford in the lot down the street. Your route was built with time and patience mixed in with frustration and doubt but like filling a cup with sand one grain at a time you’re finally at a place where you can say it is half full.

It’s Monday and you fill up your stainless steel coffee mug and head for the door. You look into your office to see if the machine is blinking one more time and you notice your production board. This is gonna be a killer week and you don’t have to make a single call. You pause for a moment and allow yourself to dream. You see a day coming when you’re sending your techs on their way and the phone is answered by a sweet and polite voice. That day has never been closer and your dream is just as powerful as the day you first stepped out on your own. A warm feeling of confidence fills your mind like that warm summer day of years ago and you walk out across the driveway and climb into your new shiny truck to begin a new day of chasing your dream.

About The Bug Doctor

Jerry Schappert is a certified pest control operator and Associate Certified Entomologist with over two and a half decades of experience from birds to termites and everything in between. He started as a route technician and worked his way up to commercial/national accounts representative. Always learning in his craft he is familiar with rural pest services and big city control techniques. Jerry has owned and operated a successful pest control company since 1993 in Ocala,Florida. While his knowledge and practical application has benefitted his community Jerry wanted to impart his wisdom on a broader scale to help many more. Pestcemetery.com was born from that idea in 2007 and has been well received. It is the goal of this site to inform you with his keen insights and safely guide you through your pest control treatment needs.
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  • Hi again Doc.,

    You have really hit the nail on the head with this article. You really have a great talent for writing. I hope that someday that we will all achieve the dream that you allude to!

    Thanks and keep up the good work,
    Eric Kroon
    P.S what is the name of your company, in case I ever see you driving around?

  • Hi again Doc.,

    You have really hit the nail on the head with this article. You really have a great talent for writing. I hope that someday that we will all achieve the dream that you allude to!

    Thanks and keep up the good work,
    Eric Kroon
    P.S what is the name of your company, in case I ever see you driving around?

  • The Bug Doctor

    Hey Eric Thanks,

    It’s easy to write about things that I’ve gone or am going through. It’s a tough world and I think if we can all encourage each other there’ll be room enough for everyone. A little help never hurts.

    I’m The Bug Doctor–Silver trucks, my main counties are marion, lake and citrus but I sneak into Spring Hill at least once per month.

    Thanks for the kind words & Thanks for reading

    The Bug Doctor

  • The Bug Doctor

    Hey Eric Thanks,

    It’s easy to write about things that I’ve gone or am going through. It’s a tough world and I think if we can all encourage each other there’ll be room enough for everyone. A little help never hurts.

    I’m The Bug Doctor–Silver trucks, my main counties are marion, lake and citrus but I sneak into Spring Hill at least once per month.

    Thanks for the kind words & Thanks for reading

    The Bug Doctor

  • Stuto1

    Just found this article. Thanks Bug Dr. I needed that!

  • Stuto1

    Just found this article. Thanks Bug Dr. I needed that!

  • That does me good to hear-keep the faith and build your dream.

    Thanks for reading my blog
    The Bug Doctor

  • Lamont Fletcher

    Bug Doc seems like you were speaking my life… I needed that. I dont feel so alone anymore. Thank you just talked me off the edge.

  • Very glad to hear it helped Lamont. I think we all have been there. Me as well. If you’re on Facebook please look up our closed group also called Pestcemetery.com. It’s filled with fellow pest pros from all walks of the industry. Everybody in the group is very “help” minded. Getting or giving. It’s a great resource. Thanks for reading my article and for the kind words. Hope to see you in the group.

  • Doug Payne

    Hey bug doc I’ve been doing pest control for 14years now and want to go out on my own but like most I’m scared to take the plunge. I feel like I have the drive to make it But what if always comes up, I don’t need to be the biggest I’m used to making about 2500 to 2800.a month bring home so I feel like it would”nt be to hard to make that, but not sure. What do you think ?.I have my license and truck ,equipment and some chemicals for about 6 months stocked up.

  • I say go for it. Doug – if you’re on Facebook find my group (closed ). Over 1500 pros from around the world and ALL want to help with advice and or insight. Best think tank there is in the industry and it could help you immensely. Regardless, please keep me informed on your progress and click the ask the bug doctor tab at the top to send an email. I’d love to help if I can. Hope to see you in the group. 😀

  • Doug Payne

    How do I find the group on Facebook

  • Type in Pestcemetery in your search or just friend me. I’ll add you