Patrick: You have Patrick Findaro here, co-founder at Vetted Biz. Very excited to have on two executives of a neighborly brand. We have already interviewed the brand presidents as well as directors of franchise development. Very happy to have Lou Schager who is the President of Mosquito Joe, as well as Director of Franchise Development, Jerry Cooper. Thanks, both of you guys for joining today.
Lou: Patrick, thanks for having us. This is great.
Patrick: You both have pretty different backgrounds. Lou, very extensive military career serving in the Navy for 27 years. I’d love to hear about your experience there and how it’s translated into the franchising space. And then, Jerry, on the franchising side. I’m curious what attracted each of you, and maybe we can start with Lou to work with the Mosquito Joe brand. That it’s more than just killing mosquitoes. From what I understand, you’re helping people not get diseases and not die which is a pretty good mission.
Lou: It’s interesting how you couched the question. How got me interested in Mosquito Joe as a business opportunity. Well… Because I have been a customer of Mosquito Joe since 2014.
I didn’t know anything about how the product worked. But I quickly learned… And more importantly, the customer service was like none other we’ve ever seen.
Lou: I had the chance that the CEO approach y talk to me about the opportunity. That was immediately the first takeaway. It was like this is a great brand that was bringing happiness to my home and also protecting my family from, as you mentioned, those vector-borne diseases from mosquitos and ticks. Also, we have dogs too, and we don’t want our dogs to get ticks. So, it was a no-brainer when they approached me.
Patrick: They’re part of the family.
Patrick: And how about you, Jerry?
Jerry: Well, I have about 28 years in franchise development at the development and operations level. For 15 years, I was in brick-and-mortar franchising. Typically, the investments were anywhere from about $1 million to $2.5 million. Had to do with finding real estate, doing a build-out, seeing entrepreneurs become magnets for debt. And it kind of got to the point where I was looking for something where I can work with true entrepreneurs. People looking to make a difference in their lives without going into heavy debt, something scalable. Knowing the brand, I have chatted with a good associate over there about Mosquito Joe, and told me was on the horizon for an acquisition. It just sounded fantastic. Then, met with Lou and the team. This is a great culture, and here I am three years later.
Patrick: Patrick: What’s the need of the consumer? Why is this a service that people need?
Jerry: Well, it’s a need. Let’s just look at the last few years. With the advent of the situation with COVID and things like that, people were staying home. So, as you’re staying home, you’re going out into the back yard and you are getting a bit… You are not comfortable. So, there are enhancements needed. Then, they find out about us and wonder, “How could I have lived without it?” It enhances the quality of life. It’s a great thing to do, and people love us.
Lou: Yeah. I agree with what Coop just said. And my experience personally with my family says just that. Also, I find that people invest in their homes, in a patio or a deck, and after that investment is made, sometimes, they can’t enjoy it. But once we introduce the service, most of our customers, have exceptional customer service satisfaction scores. We’re just blown away by how effective it is.
We’ve got so many customer reviews that say it’s life-changing, for how they experience their family times together in the backyard. And that is so heartwarming, that’s what drives us. As you mentioned before Patrick early on, we are in the customer service business that happens to provide mosquito and tick control in their back yard. It’s still a nascent market, and many of our consumers are learning about this for the first time. But once they get a feel and experience it…
Patrick: I recently had termite issues in my apartment, and from what I understand, termites aren’t bringing disease. But, it’s something that we want to have resolved. So… What do you guys do to educate the final consumer?
Lou: A couple of ways we think about it. We’ve got an extensive training plan for our new owners to then come in. Because the majority of our owners don’t have a background in entomology. But we all have a background in getting eaten alive. This bodes to learning about how the products work and how we think about controlling a mosquito or tick population.
One thing that we’re proud of, we don’t market to scare tactics, Patrick. You let the natural media cycle handle that because there’s West Nile virus, there’s Lyme disease, and there’s plenty of information and media reports about it.
Jerry: After COVID-19, more people are in-tune with how they can keep their families protected. And I think last year demonstrated our customer and consumer psyche saying: we want to be thoughtful about taking care of our family and if Mosquito Joe provides an extra layer of peace of mind, we’re all-in. And as Coop said, a lot of people reimagined their backyard because of COVID, and I think that’s continuing today.
Patrick: Whoa, you can, like, double or triple their adjustable living space if the family can enjoy any of that outside space.
Lou: That’s right. I like to say it’s an extension of their living room now. They go out and relax.
Patrick. I understand from listening to your prior interviews that it’s a bit more of a seasonal business outside some key areas in the United States. Could you tell me a little bit more about that?
Lou: Sure. Down in the south, Miami, and south Texas, it is a year-round service. We have some owners in New York, in Buffalo, in Michigan, Chicago, and Wisconsin, and the demand is just the same. How I think about it is our owners that are in the north are doing just as well because growing up in Chicago, when the weather broke, I wanted to get outside. So, our consumers recognize that, and they’re willing to bring our service is to make sure they can enjoy that finite amount of days. They don’t have the luxury of having a year-round backyard experience. Because of that, seasonality continues to draw consumers.
This business also provides a really helpful break for many of our owners that are open and operating for 8 to 10 months. They can take some time off, recharge their batteries. We have many people after they’ve been in the system for a while, they’re doing very well. They, pack up, go to Florida for the month, or they go to Mexico. It warms my heart to see our owners enjoying the fruits of their labor.
Jerry: Some of our biggest franchises are in Rochester, Syracuse, very cold areas, Boston.
You’re busy throughout April through October, but a lot of our clients like this so they can be with their family in the offseason, do just as well in the demand periods. Also, we have owners that have other businesses. So, it lends itself to multi-brand operations. It’s truly amazing.
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