Business Growth

Lisa Botts: ‘It’s the greatest thing I’ve ever done’

Eddie Wooten
May 23, 2024
5 min read
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Last in a series

By Eddie Wooten

Lisa Botts got passed over by the pest control company one time too many. 

“Getting promoted as a female is not really easy in this industry,” Botts says. “There's a lot of nepotism, and there's a lot of 'good ol' boys' clubs.”

So Botts developed a new plan. 

"Forget it," she said at the time. "I'm just going to do my own."

So Botts started Peacock Pest Prevention, in Tomball, TX, near Houston. 

“It's the greatest thing I've ever done," she says.

Botts also has been a leader in the industry, helping launch the Facebook group Women in Pest Control with The Bug Lady Pest Control’s Bobbie Terry. That group started in 2017, grew to about 800 members in its first year, and now totals 1,500. A conference that made its debut in 2019, with support from Nisus’ Marty Keane, has grown to include women from Canada and Australia attending in 2024. 

Botts is the closing profile in FieldRoutes’ Showcasing Women In Pest Control series. If you missed previous entries, see the links below to find them.

My position

Owner and operator

Peacock Pest Prevention, Tomball, TX

Years in pest control industry


A career I envisioned

"When I was a kid, I wanted to be a teacher, but things just didn't work out. I wound up in hospitality for most of my life and was working at Marriott Hotels & Resorts for a long time.”

How I got into the pest control industry

"A friend got me into the water and wastewater industry. Unfortunately, a huge company from California bought the tiny company I was working for and laid all of us off (2008).

"I went from making really good money to making almost nothing, and at a time when the economy was just terrible. I went to a job fair and met 'the Orkin man' and started doing business-to-business sales for them here in Houston (March 2009). That's how I got into it, and I've been doing it ever since.

"I love it. I'm so glad I found my way here."

What the pest control industry is all about for me

"Flexibility. It is absolutely, for women, the most flexible job you can have. I tell everybody I hire when I'm interviewing them, 'What hours do you want to work? I'll make that work for you.' There's no other job on the planet where you can do that. 

"If you only want to work weekends, I've got customers who would love to have service on weekends. If you only want to work between 9 and 3, so you can drop your kids to school in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon, I can do that. If you need time off, if you give me a couple of days' notice, I can give you all the time off you want.

"The flexibility is why this job is so great because it naturally gives you work-life balance, if you're working for the right person. I like to be the right person."

The biggest misconceptions about women in pest control

"A lot of people think there's more physical labor to this than there is. There's not. If you can lift your B&G (sprayer named for Bill Brehm and George Gilmore) and you can lift your backpack sprayer, it's pretty much not that physical.

"It's no more physical than watching kids. You're chasing after them and doing everything else at a day-care center. That's a very physical job." 

A mentor

"My first mentor in this industry was Jeremy Smith. He worked for Orkin, and he was my very first sales manager. And he was the most upbeat, positive, funny human being I've ever met in my entire life. And very encouraging. He was always, 'You can do this girl, you can do this girl, I believe in you.' It was just really fun to work for him.

"He's actually the one who encouraged me to switch from sales to service and learn the bug side of it. I guess he just saw something in me that I'd be good at managing his people, and he really wanted me to stick with it. If I would've stayed in sales, I don't think I would've stuck with it."

The benefits of organizations for or led by women

"Women in Pest Control helps other women start their own business in this industry. And the reason I don't mind helping other women start this business is because there's plenty of work to go around – tons of work and a thousand different niches. Pick your niche, market yourself, and do it well, and you can be very, very successful."

My biggest challenge

“I love running my own company and being able to say ‘no.' There are times when managers would say, 'Just do it.' I don't have to do that anymore. Being able to say 'no' and pick my clientele is really, really, really huge to your peace of mind and your ability to have work-life balance."

My biggest opportunity

"Green. Green, green, green, green, green. The botanical solutions. Anything that's not seen as hazardous. Setting yourself up to be the green solution, because that's where everybody's going. Especially as regulation gets tighter and tighter around our chemicals. The regulations are getting tighter and tighter, and we've got to find greener solutions. But the big important thing is the education around that.

"And setting expectations in your customer's minds, and then getting them to understand, 'Look, if you really want a green solution, it's going to cost more money, not because it's green and because I want to charge you more for that green label, but because I have to apply it more often because it is natural, and natural things naturally break down faster than man-made things.'"

A woman’s superpower in pest control

"They're more detail-oriented. I'm not saying men aren't good at this. I'm never going to bash men. (Customers) feel better about it. They don't feel like it's just a guy with a tin can spraying their baseboards, because that's not what we're doing anymore. There's science behind this, and women are really, really good at that. I don't know why women wouldn't do this. I really don't."

You also should know

"(Her husband, Ken Botts) came to work for me and I taught him everything I know. Now he's my lead tech and everybody assumes that it’s the other way around (laughs), but I taught him.

"The biggest thing I wish our customers knew about the industry is that we are not here to pour poison into your environment. People are afraid of pest control. It is so regulated. Those of us who are paid to do it and have licenses are very, very careful with the application. And we're paying attention to what we're treating for.”

My advice to a woman starting out

"Take every class you possibly can. Learn everything you can. That is the most key part. Understand your state's rules and regs around getting your licenses. Working for some of the big companies, they will keep you in an apprentice position forever and ever and never say, 'Hey, go take a test for this. Hey, go take a test for that.' Because every time you get a new license, they have to pay you a little bit more. So they're not going to encourage you to do that.

"Don't wait on them. Take control over your career, and do what you need to advance. Go above and beyond, because the more educated you are, the more educated you sound to your clients and your colleagues and the less likely you are to look like, 'Oh, it's just a chick. No, no, I really know what I'm doing.' 

"I'm an associate certified entomologist. I've taken the test; I've taken the classes. I take continuing education above and beyond what I need to take every year. I'm always looking for new things to learn. That's one of the most important things you can do to advance your career."

In Case You Missed It

Previous entries in FieldRoutes' Showcasing Women In Pest Control series:

Showcasing Women In Pest Control: ‘A Needle Moved’ (April 30, 2024)

Dominique Stumpf: ‘Women will just figure it out’ (May 2, 2024)

Tithaney Bray: 'Insects can do whaaat?' (May 7, 2024)

Essence Blackhurst: 'What in the world?' (May 9, 2024)

Nicolette Hurley: ‘I can do it’ (May 14, 2024)

Mariah Vera: Women bring the ‘go-get-'er-done’ (May 16, 2024)

Summer Dougan: 'We can integrate everybody’ (May 21, 2024)

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