By Eddie Wooten
The growth numbers for some pest control companies always raise the eyebrows of leaders at Modern Pest Control.
Numbers like 20%, or 25%, or 28%.
"We always have an internal conversation here," says Del Lawson, Modern's vice president. "That'd be great, but wow, that would be a lot to handle if you were growing at that rate, and there's a lot that can go wrong when you're doing that.
"We really try to run a tight ship here."
The approach for the third-generation, 71-year-old business in Katy, TX, is more measured. But by "measured," don't read "conversative."
In the early 2000s, Modern chased goals primarily as a residential pest control company. But the company president, Adam Brashier, and Lawson, his brother-in-law, had an idea: Add commercial service.
"We had this stigma: 'You can't sell commercial pest control, they don't want to pay for it,'" Lawson says. "We listened and eventually just said, ‘We’re going to try it. We’re going to try some different things.’"
It worked. Modern Pest Control serviced its first high-rise building in 2007 and has built a portfolio, Lawson says, that now accounts for about 30% of Modern's business.
"As I drive around town, it's difficult to drive anywhere without pointing out a building that we've either done in the past or are currently servicing now," he says.
For Modern, success evolves from making the right moves at the right times.
Modern Pest Control, using what Lawson described as a basic software platform that was just "fine" to run its business, found ServicePro in 2003.
Modern preferred the functions offered in ServSuite. But they also liked being able to connect, when needed, with owners Andy Deering and Kim Deering O'Connor, whose company sprung to life after their father, Richard, had written his own program to run his pest, lawn, and arbor business in Ohio.
ServSuite gave Modern Pest Control the tools to end some of the staff's manual tasks.
“The things that we used to do in our office that we no longer do anymore," Lawson says, remembering the early 2000s. "The people around here (now) would just be like, ‘What do you mean we have to manually stuff 600 envelopes and rip off 50 work orders a day and tear the little tractors off the sides?’”
Going mobile, in 2012, with ServSuite drove more efficiency for technicians using tablets and office staff but also offered a glimpse of a future that would include remote workers. Modern's technicians go to their office, one that moved from Houston's west side to Katy a decade ago, once per week.
"Driving across Houston at 8 o'clock in the morning is a task," Lawson says. "It allows us to be more efficient as we do our work.
"We did everything on our tablets. Now the guys do everything on their phones."
ServicePro sold its business to ServiceTitan in early 2021, and ServiceTitan acquired FieldRoutes to open 2022. And in fall 2022, the connection that Kim Deering O’Connor and Andy Deering had established with Lawson resulted in Modern Pest Control's first software change in almost two decades.
"Is this something you'd be wanting to do?" Andy Deering asked Lawson about shifting to FieldRoutes' modern, stable platform.
"Yes," Lawson told him. "Where do we sign up?"
A meeting with the FieldRoutes team at PestWorld in Boston in October 2022 led Lawson and his team to training in November and the official conversion to FieldRoutes in January 2023.
"We knew the technology in a way," Lawson says. "We knew the platform a little bit. They had a good reputation in the business."
And this switch in software platforms, the first in two decades, came without Modern Pest Control missing a beat.
The transition went great, Lawson says. He credits his team's investment in assisting the FieldRoutes implementation team in ensuring that items such as Sentricon, billing, and payment data moved over properly.
"We are willing to roll up our sleeves," he says.
And the Modern Pest Control team quickly took to the FieldRoutes platform.
"FieldRoutes is 10 times easier to use than ServSuite," he says. "And not because ServSuite was overly complicated. FieldRoutes is just that easy."
The Modern Pest Control team, in its first few months on FieldRoutes software, quickly found new gains.
Intelligent routing helped boost efficiency and the amount of revenue generated per route. The automation available in scheduling or in notifications to customers saved time for office staff. Lawson also likes the access that FieldRoutes provides to his company’s information, even when he’s visiting a family home in Canada.
API integrations are also crucial. Modern Pest Control uses Voice for Pest to store recorded phone calls from customers on the accounts. With Cinch, Modern can reach out to former customers or to new homeowners at addresses formerly serviced.
“With Cinch and FieldRoutes, I don’t even think about it, and it’s being done,” he says.
"The ability for FieldRoutes with that open API to help us create some integrations with other programs and more specifically help us create more automation, that nobody actually has to do it, that's a really big deal. It helps us tremendously."
On top of its entry into the commercial market years ago, Modern Pest Control began servicing hotels in 2022. Lawson and Brashier continue to push forward the mom-and-pop business founded over a kitchen table by Ruth and Bill Brashier, the grandparents of Lawson’s wife, Brandy, in 1952.
"We love to be able to talk about being a third-generation business," Lawson says. "We only have that ability if we continue to grow."
That could mean selling 10 new hotels. Maybe it means achieving their next revenue target. Given the track record for Lawson and Adam Brashier, count on seeing the right moves at the right time.
But even as Modern Pest Control remains a goal-focused company, it’s the journey to those destinations that gives Lawson and company leaders the most reward.
"If you go home at the end of the day and you feel like you did good today, we made a difference, we helped this person, I hired a new person, helped somebody set up their 401(k) so that they could start saving for their future," he says, "that's where we would say, 'Hey, we're achieving the legendary success that we want.’
“Seeing the success of all of our people is what warms our bellies around here.”
Office staff: 9
Sales reps: 2
Location: Katy, TX
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