Doctor Gopher Case Study

Sep 06, 2023
4 min read
Doctor Gopher Case Study
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Cam Chaney's two careers, one in telecommunications and now one as a pest control business owner, have centered on serving customers.

"The only difference is the last hour at the house," Chaney says. "The delivery is different. I'm delivering a different product."

What he's delivering is bad news for pocket gophers in the North County region of California's San Diego County.

In Chaney's second professional act, he's the owner, technician, and sales staff of Doctor Gopher, which he opened in 2022 in Vista, CA.

"A call has to be taken in a fond manner," Chaney says. "The customer needs to be treated with respect. They need to be convinced that we need to come out and do an estimate for them. You get out there, do it, close the sale. 

"And then instead of doing cable install or telephone install or high-speed internet install, all you’re doing is then delivering whatever service you've sold them. So it's very much the same thing."

Chaney, doing it all for Doctor Gopher, has mastered customer service. He also tips the cap to his software partner's scheduling and routing tools in the Operations Suite in his new career.

"FieldRoutes has allowed me to go from one of those companies that are just OK at what they do,” he says, “to an exceptional company."

From home nuisance to business obsession

After Chaney left telecommunications behind at age 55, he worked for three pest control companies, including one nationally known name. In 2022, Chaney opened his own business in Vista, having acquired not only knowledge from those companies but also having picked up the needed licenses along the way.

"I really figured out quickly that for whatever reason, I was really good at this, at gophers, particularly," Chaney says. "I got them in my own yard, and then I got obsessed."

Pocket gophers grow to 6 to 10 inches in length, including a short tail, according to research from the University of California, Davis. Mounds on property mark their presence in a burrow system beneath the surface. While pocket gophers can be found in the Great Plains and in the Southeast, they love the livin' in SoCal, feasting in gardens and yards and sometimes wreaking havoc on water lines and irrigation systems, UC Davis reports. Even foundations, Chaney says.

"Never freezes. The weather's perfect. There's a ton of agriculture," Chaney says. "There's a lot of big pieces of property here that go uncultivated or unmolested in any way. It’s a perfect environment for them here."

"But once they get into your yard and your landscape, they'll do tens of thousands of dollars of damage. It's crazy."

That is, until Chaney shows up. Bait and traps can get the job accomplished. As long as he's more than 100 feet from a home, a California regulation, a gassing machine can be effective and efficient.

"We say a few quiet words as we're gassing them, and I allow them to pass on to their next earthly plan, wherever that may be," Chaney says. 

"As long as it isn't in my customer’s garden."

How pest control software is his solo support

Chasing pocket gophers might rank among the unique pursuits in the pest control industry. Count the business name and its logo – a two-toned green serpent with the forked tongue – as unique, too.

Chaney, struggling for just the right name before setting up shop, credits a friend with the assist.

"You need to name that company Doctor Gopher," Chaney's buddy told him. "And my jaw just dropped. 

"I go, ‘That's it. Doctor Gopher.’ 

"And it's amazing. I have people, as I'm driving down the freeway, taking pictures of my work truck with Doctor Gopher, and it's got a big gopher snake on the side of it and the big logo. I get thumbs up, people smile, they love the name. Incredible."

When it came to choosing a software partner, Chaney's deliberations involved less of a struggle. He gained operations experience in seeing software systems for the pest control companies that employed him. Though he was quite familiar with one provider in particular, Chaney chose FieldRoutes to team with Doctor Gopher.

"When I met with all of your folks, I figured out even though I already know how to use (another provider), I like what these guys are about and I really like the people that I talked to and the level of support," Chaney says. "If you’re a smart person, you can figure out how to use (FieldRoutes) so easily."

Chaney makes use of multiple tools in FieldRoutes® software.

"I can schedule people simply," he says. "I service a bunch of cities, but I have five primary larger cities that I have broken into days. Today I worked Carlsbad and Escondido. It allows me to sort easily by ZIP codes. It allows me, when I'm getting ready to go out the day before, just click and say send a text and let them know I’m coming."

Route optimization might be the key tool in the box for Chaney.

"It’s gophers, it’s 99% outside work, I've been doing business with them for a small period of time," he says, referring to his customers. "They’re comfortable with me being on the property. I just throw them on whatever day I’m going, and I hit that route optimization. It sorts it by mileage to and from. I get a really nice straight line coming home. It’s very efficient on the fuel."

Chaney knows that expanding his business could make Doctor Gopher more lucrative. 

"I know I could blow the volume up and turn this into something really big," Chaney says. "I told my wife, ‘If I had not gone into cable 38 years ago and gone into pest control 38 years ago, we'd be multimillionaires by now.’

"She goes, 'Just based on how you’ve trended in six months, I wholeheartedly agree.'"

Adding customers would mean adding staff, though. 

"I don’t want that anymore," Chaney says.

Instead, he has figured out how to package pest control services with resolving pocket gopher issues, which he says account for about 90% of his work. And it’s FieldRoutes software, he says, that keeps him "100% organized" in his quest to deliver exceptional service.

"Since I'm a small operation, the phone rings and I pick it up," Chaney says. "I do my own routing, and I do my own scheduling, I can fit people in as I need to, and I can take care of their needs immediately. And I'm willing to do so.

"You’ve got to stay organized in this game, and you’ve got a couple of hundred customers, you’re juggling them," he says. "It makes it so easy on the fly to meet that customer expectation or your own promise of being exceptional."

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