On this week’s episode of Atlanta Business Profile with Ted Jenkin, Ted sits down with Lanny Allgood, CEO of cingo based in Atlanta.
Ted Jenkin: Hey, everybody. Welcome to another edition of The Atlanta Business Profile. I’m your host, Ted Jenkin, sitting here today with the CEO of cingo, Lanny Allgood. We are so grateful to have you on the show today.
Lanny Allgood: Ted, thank you for having me.
Ted Jenkin: Yeah. Now tell me a little bit of background about this interesting name of Cingo and how you got into the pest control business.
Lanny Allgood: Cingo is a 40-year-old home services company. We just passed a pretty important milestone in that we now have over 100 team members.
Ted Jenkin: Wow, congratulations.
Lanny Allgood: We operate throughout Georgia, so Savannah, Augusta, Dublin, Douglas, Atlanta, and also Charleston, South Carolina.
Ted Jenkin: Wow.
Lanny Allgood: Our primary business offering or customer offering is pest protection.
Ted Jenkin: Now, when I hear this pest protection, pest control, pest control, pest control, how did you make this model different? There’s a lot of pest control companies that are out there. How did you make the model different?
Lanny Allgood: For 40 years, we were a traditional pest control company. We serviced residential and commercial. We did all types of structures. We did pre-construction, after construction, whatever. As we looked for growth opportunities, we decided we needed to carve out a niche and be very specific about a customer. For us, that customer is the owner of a single-family home. We wanted a brand that was consistent with that, and so we developed Cingo to go after and promote ourselves to that customer.
Ted Jenkin: That’s very cool. Now, I know today people are hearing on TV unemployment is at an all-time low, which some people think is good, but if you’re starting a business, it can be really hard, or you’re growing a business, so how do you find today … find skilled people to work for Cingo? How do you hire the right people, and how do you find the right people today?
Lanny Allgood: Well, I mean it is very tight. I mean that’s not just a creation of the media. It is a very tight market. For us, it starts with keeping who we have. I think having a strong culture is important, people knowing what’s expected of them, and having growth opportunities is what we’ve seen keeps people around.
Ted Jenkin: You just talked about culture, and I’m wondering that … In some businesses, everybody comes to an office. In this kind of business, you have people that are all over the place servicing these individual single-family homes. How do you create the culture or the camaraderie inside of the organization when you have people fragmented all over the place?
Lanny Allgood: Well, so I think it’s important to say you find those things about your culture that made you successful, spend some time writing them down, and then everybody has to know it, and then you have to repeat it. You teach it and repeat it, and repeat it, and repeat it. While our folks don’t come in every day, we do make sure we see them once or twice a week, and that’s an opportunity to have lessons on what those values are, and where it is we’re going, and what it is we do.
Ted Jenkin: Like Lanny is saying, repeat and rinse is important for culture. Now, what’s even more important is acquiring clients. For somebody watching today and thinking about how they grow their business, how does a business like this get customer acquisition? How do you go out and create those single-family homeowners that may want to use a company like Cingo?
Lanny Allgood: Well, I think the most important is you’ve got to create offers that are competitive and distinguish you in the marketplace, not things like customer service and our people. Those are sort of pay-to-play things now. Everybody expects that. You really have to have an offer that makes sense to consumers that will distinguish you from the other competitors.
Ted Jenkin: What’s the one piece of advice you could give to entrepreneurs out there about the potholes? Everyone talks about the good stuff. You can grow a business. Maybe, one day, you sell it or pass it on to your family. How do you manage the bad days or the potholes that are out there?
Lanny Allgood: There’s always going to be tomorrow. I think, in terms of those getting started, I think of three important things for businesses. One is just math.
Ted Jenkin: I like that, math.
Lanny Allgood: Entrepreneurs want to focus on revenue but, at the end of the day, if you can’t provide the service for less than your customer paid you, you’re not going to be around for long, so math is important. You’ve got to have people to grow, have the right people in the right seat. Then, finally, businesses hit challenges based upon plateaus of people, and you’ve got to be ready to scale to the next place.
Ted Jenkin: What’s next for the next five years for Cingo, especially here in Atlanta?
Lanny Allgood: Well, we’re just excited about the opportunities here, just number of rooftops. We have been growing in other parts of Georgia, but this is a great economic engine, and we’re just proud to be here.
Ted Jenkin: Just remember that, repeat and rinse, think about your culture, make sure that you get your business plan and your financials in place, and you too can grow your business like Lanny is doing at Cingo. Thanks so much for coming on the program today.
Lanny Allgood: Thank you, Ted.
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