My business story… Pest Control London

Pest Control London

May 10, 2017

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Simon Beecham talks about how he started his business, Pest Control London. Tell us the Pest Control London story…

Over the years I have tried my hand at a lot of different things so my background is quite varied. I studied IT and electronics at university I’m a qualified holistic massage therapist, I have been to construction school for plumbing, plastering, tiling etc, even was a TGI’s master bartender, before working in IT.

A buddy of mine had worked in pest control for 15 years and asked if I fancied going in to business together. We got the stock we needed, I built us a website, got us business cards and flyers and we hit the streets for a couple of weeks walking all the local towns and got zero responses.

We were cold called by a Google AdWords company, thought we would give them a shot and to our surprise the phone started ringing! After a while of getting some business, but not enough to stay afloat, sadly we closed our doors. I tried moving back into IT to keep the wolf from the door, but the yearning for my own business was too great.

I moved back into pest control on my own, and jump forward to 1.5 years down the line and it has been slowly building better and better to the point where I can nearly not quite cope with the workload.

How long have you been running Pest Control London?

I ran the business for two years with my buddy, and I’ve been running Pest Control London since 2014.

What was your first job?

I had a job as a Tesco ‘trolley wally’ while studying at university, which was great fun being out in the sun all day getting a tan. I also worked in PC World, which was a laugh too, especially working in the warehouse. People would do anything to avoid work and make clubhouses from stacked boxes. The many and varied characters you meet in jobs like these creates wonderful stories.

How did you fund your business in the beginning?

By cash flowing it. I lived very cheaply and moved back home while I set it up. Everyone says it takes two years before a business really gets going, and it’s true. You have to make the sacrifices to make it work.

What has been your biggest hurdle so far?

Getting the phone ringing. I was lucky to have worked in so many different varied jobs, it gave me the collective skills to be able to manage and work all areas of running a business without needing people to fill those holes. With my sales knowledge I knew how to close sales and my close rate was about 90%. I knew if I could just get enough people to call, I’d be able to secure the business.

What is the hardest part of running a business?

This depends entirely on who’s running the business. It differs from person to person. I’m lucky, I can do almost everything myself. But I do think that if anyone has a weak spot in their skills, they should definitely hire someone who can do what they can’t. Time spent dedicated to building the business is worth its weight in gold. You could bring in three times the money if you focused on the areas you are good at by hiring help rather than being bogged down doing less important things or trying to learn to do everything.

Who or what has been your biggest influence?

Someone I worked with years ago taught me to be incredibly resilient against what life throws at you. There is enormous strength in being able to keep going, regardless of the situation, and to condition your mind to cope with what is happening. To carve your own path and move hell and high water to get there. It has helped me through tough times and kept me moving forward. For these things I will always be grateful to him.

How important is customer service to your business?

I think it’s huge, probably the most important thing. A lot of customers tell me stories of previous pest controllers they’ve hired not doing a job properly, taking the money and leaving, and being short with them. For me, it’s important to do the job well, and take the time to connect with a customer to empathise with them. Usually we get calls from people, panicking, stressed, crying etc. That’s how you get referrals. People have said that was why they picked my company over our competitors.

It’s critical to ask lots of questions and understand their problem, two ears for listening and one mouth for talking, the conversation should be approached with that ratio in mind.

At what point did you realise you needed a telephone answering service?

Once I’d figured out how AdWords worked, the calls poured in. A lot of the time they overlapped and by the time I’d called back they’d be on the phone to another pest controller and I’d lose their business. The cost of just one job missed pays for the cost of the service, it was a no brainer getting Moneypenny on board.

Best business move?

Definitely moving from the shackles of the 9 to 5 and starting the business. Taking that move and pressing forward despite setbacks.

Worst business move?

I don’t think there’s been a bad business move – let’s hope I haven’t just jinxed things.

What is your plan for the next few years?

My brother is moving to London and we’ve talked about him becoming part of the company. Having my brother as a partner would be a game-changer as we could cover a wider area, take on bigger jobs, for instance with property management companies. Eventually I would like a small fleet of staff and expand into other business areas as well.

What piece of advice would you give a start up?

Think hard about the investment it will take to start a business. Not just monetary, but life investment too. And I know it sounds daft, but prepare yourself for what you don’t know.

Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t running Pest Control London, I would be…

On a tropical island being fed grapes and cocktails in the sun. At the end of the day, you can build a business, but you have to enjoy life too.