By Eddie Wooten
The reviews are in.
Gecko Pest Control is a fan of its new software provider, FieldRoutes.
"It gives us the ability to take care of all of our customers ..." Service Manager Josh Nielsen says of the pest control software, pausing.
"... In an efficient and a timely manner," General Manager Candy McKay adds, finishing the thought.
In fact, it's reviews themselves that are a star attraction for Gecko, which takes advantage of pest control software capabilities that prompt customers to leave their feedback and can link it to social media channels.
Gecko Pest Control is located in Marshall, Texas, a town of almost 25,000 residents about 20 miles from the Louisiana border. Reviews, as they are to most companies, are critical to the success of owner Daren Horton’s business.
"If you call a pest control company, we don't have products or chemicals that other people don't have," Horton says. "Everybody has the same thing; they have the same tools.
"But what's the difference? The difference is that reputation. The difference is what people are saying and the feedback that you get from folks."
People are saying good things about Gecko Pest Control.
"Very professional, pleasant, efficient & competent service!"
"Love Gecko!! Always on time and call before they come out. Very thorough and ask questions! Friendly staff and easy billing portal. Great job!!"
"They have significantly reduced our indoor spiders and outdoor mosquitoes and fire ants. Our technician Sam has been great. During each treatment he’s not only thorough but he takes time to ask if we’re having any issues or concerns and makes sure he addresses them."
In fact, the number of Gecko reviews – and Horton personalizes a response to each – is up 50% since Gecko began partnering with FieldRoutes in early 2023.
“That would be the No. 1 thing for us,” Nielsen says.
Gecko wants to keep its foothold in Marshall but also develop its reach in Longview, which has nearly four times as many residents and sits about a half-hour west.
"We're gaining traction there," Horton says.
The team at Gecko now believes it can strengthen that grip. But one key team member needed to be convinced that changing to FieldRoutes software would make the difference.
"I didn't want to do it,” Horton says. “It's too big of a mountain to climb."
Gecko Pest Control began its shift from a previous software provider after seeing a FieldRoutes demo at PestWorld in Boston in October 2022. By early February 2023, Gecko had completed the transition and begun to see improvements and new ways for the business to become more efficient.
FieldRoutes® software makes it easy for customers to offer feedback.
Customers receive a follow-up email, set up by the pest control company in the FieldRoutes® Operations Suite, and then automated, listing the services performed and inviting customer feedback. The recipient can leave a review in the customer portal, and the pest control company can build a link from which a customer can publish the review on the company's Google Business Page or a review site.
"All our technicians have to do is say, 'You're going to get a service receipt that's going to have a link at the bottom, and if you'll leave a review for me, that'd be really good. My boss will know I'm doing a good job,'” Horton says. "And people like to help people."
But reviews aren’t the only area in which Gecko Pest Control has benefited from a new software provider. Among the others:
Communications. When it comes to notifying customers about service, Gecko Pest Control lets the software do the work. FieldRoutes software, among other capabilities, enables automated text, email, and voice reminders that can be sent to customers
"We used to have to call our customers manually, and we just don't do any of that anymore," McKay says. "It's just all automatic now.
"We just don't have to think about that anymore."
Gecko also prefers FieldRoutes reporting that can alert customers that their credit cards on file are nearing expiration dates. Nielsen shares the story of telling the leader of another company, one using a different software platform, about FieldRoutes.
"They did all this work of getting all these customers' cards on file," Nielsen says of the company. "Then when they go to run it, half of them are expired, and they don't know if it's expired or if it's insufficient funds.
"Just having that info (in FieldRoutes) is a huge thing."
Routing and fleet management. Routes are tighter, meaning technicians are getting more done in a given amount of time than they could in the past. FieldRoutes' Intelligent Routing helps a company create the most efficient routes based on the maximum number of stops or a maximum number of minutes per route.
"I love the ability to see the technician's miles on the route," Nielsen says. "The scheduling is a lot easier and simpler to work with than what we had before."
And more efficient. Gecko Pest Control operated with five technicians during fall 2023, Nielsen says, but in one fall month matched the revenue from that month in 2022, when they had nine technicians.
Gecko, in fall 2023, decided to implement Fleet Pro, a tool from ServiceTitan that integrates with FieldRoutes software to help eliminate unnecessary expenses, minimize risk, and improve performance for drivers and company vehicles.
"We'll be able to compare the miles that are on the route from the start to the actual amount of miles driven by each tech," Nielsen says. "That'll help us to be able to look for deviations in routing and see what our techs are doing between services a little more clearly."
Appearance. Looks aren't everything. Except when they are. Software not only needs to work to support the pest control company, but it also should win the confidence of the customer. That happens with FieldRoutes, for example, when Gecko Pest Control texts agreements to customers rather than rely just on email.
"It gives us a professional look," Nielsen says of FieldRoutes software.
That change has been a significant one for Gecko Pest Control in leaving its previous provider behind.
"It's like going from an old dinosaur system to something like a new iPhone," Nielsen says.
Adds Horton: "It's like a Corvette compared to a ‘62 pickup when you look at FieldRoutes and customer experience. It’s really up-to-date, modern, what people expect when they get online."
Time and labor savings. Gecko is maintaining its production these days with two fewer technicians and one fewer office staff than it was employing when partnered with its previous software provider.
Besides the impact on technicians serving customers, McKay, the general manager, has shifted to a four-day workweek instead of five.
"I don't think that would've been possible on the previous software," Nielsen says.
"No, because I would jump in and help get customers called or to help free up my CSRs to get collections done on that day," McKay responds. "We don't have overtime in the office at all."
If Nielsen and McKay sound like big believers in their new software, they are. Their sales pitch inside the office proved effective.
A strong implementation team and a company that does its homework and invests in the change, as Gecko Pest Control did, will get the best results. But that still doesn't mean changing software is easy.
Horton, who became a "bug man" after leaving the U.S. Navy 41 years ago, worked with large companies when he lived in Dallas and started Gecko Pest Control there in 2000. But Horton and his wife, Becki, fell in love with Caddo Lake, which straddles Texas and Louisiana and gave them a place to paddle canoes along the trails and amid the flooded cypress forests. They sold their Dallas company and moved to Marshall to open Gecko Pest Control.
And they've fared well. Gecko Pest Control has received the Hometown Best award for pest control from the Marshall News Messenger for 13 consecutive years after finishing as the runner-up in 2010. For the past four years, Gecko has been nominated by the Better Business Bureau for the Award of Excellence.
But the pricing of Gecko's previous provider had become a challenge because of the functions for which Gecko had to pay to add. That left Horton paddling upstream with his team, which was eager for a change that he called "scary."
"My service manager was excited about it,” Horton says of FieldRoutes. “So we came back and took a demo, and then my general manager looked at it, and my office employees looked at it. Everybody was ganging up on me saying, ‘We need to change.’"
Quality work has helped Gecko Pest Control surpass $1 million in revenue, finally, after 15 years, Horton says. And quality reviews from customers are just adding to the success.
"That definitely builds value and separates us from our competition, and that's why it's extremely important," Horton says.
And now Horton’s review is in. Several months into using a new pest control software solution, Horton sees smooth water ahead for his company.
"The next five years for Gecko," he says, "I think it's pretty bright.”
The number of reviews is up 50% since Gecko Pest Control implemented FieldRoutes in early 2023.
Gecko is maintaining production with two fewer technicians and one fewer office staff.
Gecko’s general manager has been able to move to a four-day work week.
Owners: Becki and Daren Horton
Location: Marshall, TX
Office Staff: 3
Years In Business: 23
Learn more: GeckoPestControl.com, 903.623.7091
The Utah company plans to franchise with a location in North Carolina.
The Invader Pest Management co-owner shares his philosophies on leadership.
A change in provider software requires time and effort, she says, but ‘the outcome is going to move you forward.
The Brashier family drives success in the Texas company’s eighth decade.
The first time that Randy Adcock chose a software company—two decades ago—he needed one that would help Midstate Termite & Pest Control move into a more modern era.