When starting your own pest control business, it can be quiet overwhelming how many different roles you need to play. Small business owners must wear multiple hats. Your hats may not fit well in the business if you have too many and new business owners face challenges they don’t often see coming.
For me, working in the office, my roles started out as:
Director of First Impressions
Business Systems Operator
This is a lot of hats and I soon realised I was losing control of the running of the business and spending more time on areas I didn’t know much about and less valuable time on what I was good at. I lost focus on what is important and I became frustrated as I was spending my time on trying to keep the business ticking over. I was feeling heavy in the business and felt like I had a mental illness with multiple personalities. Too many hats can do that to you. So how do we combat this?
In most new start up pest business’s the pest technician is out on the road and taking on all the above roles and answering the phone to book jobs in. It really is an impossible task to build a successful business with so many hats, worn by one person, not to mention it does come across as unprofessional to the customer. Most times you struggle to answer the phone as you are talking to a client or stuck in a roof cavity. If you don’t answer the phone there is a good chance you have lost a potential customer. Most consumers will go on to ring the next pest business. Don’t assume everyone will leave you a message and you can ring back at a time that suits you! My business was a husband and wife team, a family with three young children. At times, also, an impossible task. I needed to envision a plan with a new mindset.
In this article, I want to share snippets on how we built our husband and wife team to a profitable, small, successful business team of six.
1 Don’t grow your business too big, too fast, as small businesses are often unprepared. Grow at a sensible pace. You need to make the choice on how your business will grow. Don’t do too much when you are not ready to take on that extra responsibility. Learn to prioritise your time and delegate some of your hats to others who have the expertise in those roles. I know I have the potential to grow our company to a large one, but both my husband and I don’t want that. Not at this stage in our lives. Just because you have a small business doesn’t mean it can’t be profitable and successful. Success is not growing a massive company with a huge profit margin. Success is an achievement of desired visions and planned goals.
2 Effective management: Owners must learn to delegate effectively. Delegate roles to people that possess those skills. This can be hard when first starting out and knowing who is the right person and what you can afford. I can say from experience picking the wrong person is a big fail. It nearly put us in financial ruin and I lost trust in my judgement, never wanting to employ anyone again. It took me nearly two years to trust my judgement and make the hard decision to try again. When choosing the right person, make sure they are capable in filling the role. Delegate the entire job. You need to give them 100% responsibility. Make sure they understand the task. This person is going to free you to work on higher valuable tasks within the business. To work on what your good at. Delegation will improve efficiency and development in your business. Make a list of tasks and the right people to do them.
3 Focus on your clients. Always remember, your customers put food on your table. The most important role is customer service. This hat must never be taken off. You must have a CRM (customer relationship management) system in place. You, the business owner should never lose sight of client needs. For me, a client focused relationship strategy built on trust is what worked. This is not easy to do. Building a trusting relationship starts with you, not the client. Someone in your business must wear the Director of First Impressions hat. You only get one chance to make a first impression. The client will form a mental image of your business from the very first phone call. You don’t get a second chance.
4 Your brain needs down time. I cannot stress how important that time away from the business is just as important as working in it. Do not feel guilty when you need a break. Think of it as gaining new focus and motivation. I make sure I have me-time. To develop new ideas for the business you need to have a clear mind. Booking that holiday to spend time with the family is sometimes all you need to see things with a new set of eyes and envision a new plan. Spending time with your family means turning your mobile off during important moments. Learn to switch off. Down time gives you time to think.
5 Stress! Yes, we all get stressed at times. Running a business can be hard to figure out and most of us don’t know how to deal with the stress that comes with it. You need to rethink your approach to stress. Personally, I deal with stress well. Simply by changing how you think can make you healthier. Most of us assume that when we get stressed it means we are not coping. Try and think of stress as your body and mind strengthening you to meet the challenges ahead. Make stress your friend. Stress is not there to hurt you. For me, I find mentoring and helping friends and people within my community, especially those in business a big stress reliever. It often puts my business and experiences in perspective. I quite often get asked out to lunch from new business owners in Noosa so they can pick my brains. I love uncovering people’s potential in business. Remember you don’t need to get rid of stress, simply learn to manage it better
We all know a business owner wears many hats. Know the responsibilities of each hat. Know how much time you need for each of them and schedule time for each of those roles. If you run out of time you’re wearing too many hats and need to delegate. There are not enough hours in the day so don’t waste time on tasks that hold you back. As your earnings increase, gradually outsource roles to people with specialist skill sets who can perform some of the tasks that don’t utilise your greatest strengths.
As a business owner, you will never know everything. Accept advice and help from our industries best. The more you learn the more you realise how little you know.
Written by Nicky Turner – Owner Laguna Pest Control