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The year 2020 will always be synonymous with words like “tragic,” “traumatic” and “tough.” For Mosquito Authority® franchise owner B.J. Bacha, it was certainly challenging, but it was also a year when being involved in an essential business brought out the full value in being a franchisee. As many other businesses were shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic and people were quarantined most of the year, home and the yard were their main refuge — and a pest control service was top of mind.
Navigating the pandemic as a franchisee
“There was that panic in March and April last year when we thought at our franchise, ‘Are we going to get shut down?’” Bacha said. “We were trying to come up with a game plan if that happened. Then we were deemed essential, and the demand on our services soon started to overcome our supply.
“So many people were stuck at home and not able to take a vacation. So, they called us because they planned to spend as much time as possible in their yard. It hammered home the best point of all of being a franchisee in any industry: being a great service to your community.”
Bacha and business partner Ryan Hahn reaped nice recognition for their service when the company named its Charlotte, North Carolina, outlet franchisee of the year for 2020.
“We made some changes in our office, and the key often as a franchisee is finding people who can do what you do but do it with more efficiency and take pride in it,” Bacha said. “We have some good team players who really pushed to make 2020 as good as it was for our franchise. It was challenging but definitely rewarding and a good learning opportunity.”
Bacha says an entrepreneurial spirit is helpful in following a franchise path for a career, and he definitely had one as a boy — selling baseball cards at the age of 8 and cutting grass. Those pursuits also grew his customer service skills, which he thinks go hand in hand with managerial ability to find success as a franchisee. When demand for the franchise’s services in Charlotte last summer was too high for their available staff to satisfy quickly, Bacha said customers appreciated it when his team set proper expectations while getting them on the schedule for yard treatments as soon as they could.
“Our customer service team is incredible,” Bacha said. “We try to be the Chick-fil-A of the mosquito/pest industry, so when customers call in, they leave that conversation feeling warm and fuzzy. In the service industry, that’s very difficult to offer, but we really push to do so.
“It’s all about making every effort to make the customer’s experience positive. We can all look at our own negative experiences we’ve had with companies over products and services. After the call, you rub your head and say, ‘That was painful.’ I want our franchise to bring a smile to your day. There’s not enough of that in the world to begin with, so if we can add a little bit of that and provide a good service, it’s a win-win.”
Bacha and Hahn were partners in a children’s fitness center before their Mosquito Authority® franchise, which began as a side hustle for Bacha and grew into a busy full-time gig. Their first season with the franchise was in 2010, and its customer base has grown 10 times since then.
“It’s due mainly to old-school referrals,” Bacha said of the company’s word-of-mouth marketing. “Customers are our best ambassadors. They tell their friends. That’s the way it is in many industries. And as our territory expanded around and outside of Charlotte, we kept seeing the need for it.”
Starting a business versus becoming a franchisee
Unlike entrepreneurs, who start a business from scratch, franchisees are given a running start — a proven product/service with the template, the processes and perhaps some existing customers or hot leads that will result in business. Another big difference from starting a business on your own, Bacha stressed, is the continuing corporate support and the growing relationships with other franchisees.
“Over the last few years, I’ve built relationships with other franchisees, and it’s nice when there’s a whole community of people that have the same interest that you do,” Bacha said. “There are incredible resources to pull from and help each other. You celebrate the milestones and victories together, but you also lift each other up when things go wrong.
“To be where we are now if we had started out the business on our own, it would have probably taken us another five years at least,” Bacha said.
Another rewarding part of being a franchisee, Bacha noted, is making it a family business. His dad, Bob, and sister, Amy, are team members. Bob takes care of the company vehicles and prepares the equipment for each day, while Amy handles some customer service duties.
“It’s been a great experience from a personal and business standpoint,” Bacha said. “Being my own boss, having a great partner, having my family and best friends involved, helping families, I couldn’t ask for more.”