The Key to a Thriving Family Business

Environmental Pest Management is well known throughout central Ohio as a family-owned and family-operated business. In fact, I’m often asked for advice about building a thriving family business.

My philosophy is, and always has been, that running a successful family-owned business is simply about running a successful business. Period. So, what makes my (family) business successful?

People are our number one priority

Our business has grown to where it is today because we make our customers and our team members our number one priority. Pest management, by its very nature, is about problem-solving. Someone calls with a problem, and we do whatever it takes to solve it. Our customer service team, led by my wife — and EPM’s COO — Karen, makes sure we don’t just answer phones: we see every call through until the initial reason the customer called is fully addressed. And we treat our employees the same way.

Without fail, Karen conducts quarterly one-on-one meetings with each and every one of our 40+ employees. These meetings, where an employee receives the owner’s undivided attention, give each team member an opportunity to voice any concerns as well as to bring us their best ideas. And, just like when a customer calls with a problem or suggestion, Karen takes all of it to heart. She enacts immediate change to make sure issues are permanently resolved and productive ideas get implemented.

With over 48 front-line individuals bringing their best ideas to us four times a year, we incorporate invaluable feedback that makes our business ever stronger and more successful.

Implement a measurable, documented strategic vision

To build anything well – whether a house, a bridge or a business – one must have a solid game plan in place. So first and foremost, I developed a 1500-page playbook that clearly spells out every aspect of successfully operating EPM. We have an SOP (standard operating procedure) for everything – from how to make a bank deposit to caring for company vehicles to killing roaches.

Next, I worked with my team to develop and document a well-articulated vision and mission, including short and long-term company and individual goals. Those goals are especially important for my son Brandon, who is our General Manager, and for my other son Blake, who leads our business development initiatives. Although family members, they, like everyone else on the team, are held accountable to achieving those goals.

We also measure A LOT – from how long it takes to answer the phone; to how many stops a pest management professional makes in a day, week, or month; to the ROI on a new marketing campaign. We use a tool called upBOARD to document the strategic plan and to measure progress made toward achieving our goals. This tool ensures EPM’s vision, mission and goals stay top of mind, and it clearly shows when (and by whom) a goal was accomplished.

Everyone earns their place on the team

Any successful business must have a team of individuals who are excellent at what they do, and EPM is no different. In laying out my succession plan, I’ve decided that my children will only own a portion of the business if they’ve worked in it. And in order to work in this business, everyone must earn their place on the team.

With that in mind, we teach, train, and coach everyone to constantly strive for improvement. We get them access to additional resources and give them the tools they need to be the best they can be. But in the end, everyone on the team – including family members – has to be the best at what they do. If someone else can do the job better or make the business more successful, we go with that person instead.  By establishing and maintaining a very high standard for performance, we have been able to grow year over year, while creating superior customer experiences and consistently outperforming our competitors.

In all other aspects of my life, I put my family first. But when it comes to business, the business itself is my focus. So, when asked how I run a successful family business, the recipe is pretty simple: make people a priority, have a clear vision, and hold everyone – including family members – to the highest of standards.

I, and EPM, continue to be a work in progress. I would love to learn what does – and doesn’t – work for you and your business. Please reach out anytime to share your story.