If A Single Pest Control Operator Falls in The Woods…

In the pest control world there are three things near and dear to my heart. # 1. A tech who takes pride in his/her work and just exudes professionalism – #2. A clean and organized truck (kind of a rarity 😉 . #3. And most of all, the single operator, an owner who beyond all hope and against the odds, strides forward and makes their mark. Someone who in reality was just a technician but now faces that huge entrepreneurial mountain laden with the bruised bodies and broken bones of those who went before them and for whatever reason, tumbled down and never reached the summit.

I guess the reason is because I know so many who have blazed this trail before and for the most part, encouraged me, pointed the way around obstacles and as much as they could, cheered me on to make it where they now stood. Sure there were others who were cut throat and did what they could to see me fail, there are still many like that today. Yet, some of the biggest disappointments in my career came from those whose trust and loyalty was something I was told I could always rely on. Family and friends hurt the most but the industry itself can be a cold and unforgiving machine that seems to do little for the struggling mover and shaker.

Character Is Easy When You’re On Top

When the darkest clouds gobble up the horizon for days, weeks, months and even years at a time, a single operator is chiseled down to just one thing. Character. As noble as this sounds and as much as we would desire to be viewed in this light. It is a lonely reward and one the banks and creditors won’t count for much. Even your staunchest cheerleaders draw the line at this point and surprisingly their sage advice seems ineffectual as you dangle in the winds of uncertainty. I think the saying goes;

“Adversity Does Not Build Character, It Reveals It.”

I’d expand that just a bit for the single pest control operator just starting out,

“Character Is Planted In The Grand In Ideals Of The Mind, Forged With No Witnesses, Painstakingly Strengthened With Resolve; Manifested Briefly In Times Of Travail, Momentarily Commended By Others But Quickly Forgotten When The Battle Seems Finished, When It Appears It Was Never Needed And Was Easy To Attain.”

It’s All About The Megatrons

Now no one has ever said that the worlds largest pest control companies are “The Backbone of the industry”. I’ve never heard this uttered even just once. Yet it seems, at least to me that this segment of our trade is the most touted and catered to, bar none. Is it big news when one of these behemoths sells a pest control contract to an entire country? Indeed! How about when one giant shark swallows another and now jumps from $50 million to over $100 million in annual revenue? There is no doubt. Also of note is that so many of us minnows in this big pond got our feet wet at the expense of the larger firms around the world. We honed our skills while watching as the giants grew with ease. For most of us, this is where the flame of owning a company was sparked. We dreamt of the days when our little trucks would dot the cities landscape while we coordinated it all from our own office filled with bulging filing cabinets. But we had no idea of the non stop effort it would take to even match the production of one such truck and now with a pinch of envy we read the exploits of the megatron firms. In ‘how to’ business books or trade magazines that say they are meant for us we struggle to find our relevance. Suddenly nothing seems tailored for the single operator. Advice on how to handle a million dollar budget or how best to utilize your HR department. Of course every single operator needs to know which truck is best for his/her fleet right? Perhaps we are the backbone of this industry, but apparently that’s not the part that sells any soap and so alone, we forge forward.

Behind Before You Even Start

Statistics give you, the new company in town very little hope. The industry would like to offer you more but you’re not where their bread is buttered. Starting your own pest control company today is much like a sprinter who enters a marathon and is starting in the back of the crowd.

There are salesman galore who start their own pest companies. Many, like shooting stars blaze across the city sky and bumpkins like myself wonder just how they go so fast. Some do very well, others fall with a mighty crash. Mom & pops spring up all the time and with the power of two- great things sometimes happen and family fortunes are changed. Too often, mom has to go back to work to make ends meet and pop struggles barely keeping afloat let alone his pride in tact. That hot shot tech who has all the answers, solving even the toughest pest invasions suddenly finds himself at a loss with his mailbox, infested with bills.

This is the time when questions surface, doubts arise and fears take hold. This is the moment when you realize you may be the only one you can count on, or can you? This is that heartbeat, that split second of time when only you have the answer.

If a single operator falls in the woods- will you get up and let them hear you roar!

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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  • Mel

    The mailbox with a bill infestation comment makes me want to get out there and sell more accounts today on a Sunday!

  • Been there done that ‘) Even during football season!
    Oh the joys of owning a pest control company.

    (one day you will look back at this and laugh & that will be a great day)

  • What would be your best advice for the new owners to avoid some obstacles? 

  • Shooting from the hip is the easiest way to get in trouble. I’d rather have a well thought out partial plan even with limited resources than a flying by the seat of my pants with plenty of cash, or worse yet- credit

  • Stuto1

    Great write up Doc. I have come to think of the big guys as generic pest control.  

  • I’d never thought of them that way– interesting