How to Succeed in Your First Year in Franchise Ownership

Welcome to another episode of Atlanta Franchise Today with host Leslie Kuban, expert franchise consultant and owner of FranNet Atlanta. Atlanta Franchise Today is dedicated to bringing entrepreneurs and business owners the best practices and tips for their franchise goals.

Stephanie and Adrian Eaddy are owners of Mosquito Hunters in Northwest Atlanta. They are two working parents with demanding corporate jobs, and equally demanding afterschool activities for their kids, but somehow, during the middle of a hot Atlanta summer, these two cooked up the idea to start a business and leave corporate life behind during the middle of a global pandemic. On today’s episode, Leslie sits down with Stephanie and Adrian to learn about all their first years as entrepreneurs.

Transcription:

Leslie Kuban:
Stephanie and Adrian, it’s great to see you.

Stephanie Eaddy:
It’s nice to see you Leslie.

Adrian Eaddy:
Good to see you too.

Leslie Kuban:
Yeah.

Stephanie Eaddy:
Thanks for having us.

Adrian Eaddy:
It’s good to be back.

Leslie Kuban:
Yeah. It’s your first year in business. Congratulations, you made it. I’ll brag on you a little bit. I know you were acknowledged as being one of the top producers in your franchise class.

Stephanie Eaddy:
Yeah, that’s right. We were super thrilled that amongst the new franchisees for 2021, we were one of the top five performers. That obviously means a lot when you’re a first time entrepreneur and taking this big risk forward.

Leslie Kuban:
Well, let’s go back to when we first started talking about all of this. You guys have great careers, but like you said, you started cooking up the idea that you wanted to go into your own business. I think that’s valuable to talk a little bit about. Just what had you so say, “Hey, I think we’d really like to have a business of our own.” What was that about for you?

Adrian Eaddy:
We always wanted to own our own business. I would say, with COVID, that kind of kick started us, and was the catalyst for us really looking really deeply at what we wanted to, what we could do to not only diversify our income, but make a difference in the community. We looked at a couple different franchise offerings and we settled on Mosquito Hunters.

Leslie Kuban:
Tell us about Mosquito Hunters. I love your vests.

Stephanie Eaddy:
Thank you. We’re out there hunting mosquitoes for our neighbors and friends, but yeah, Mosquito Hunters has been around for six or seven years. It’s based out of Chicago actually. We really liked that Mosquito Hunters came with a knowledge base, a resource group, and a really great and fun brand. We have a lot of fun with Mosquito Hunters, but it really is all about helping our customers have a really great and enjoyable experience in their yard outside. That’s what we’re here to do. We’re really here to help people enjoy their backyards. We say, “Take back your yard from those pesky mosquitoes and get outside.”

Leslie Kuban:
I bet with summer coming up, you guys are starting to get busy then.

Adrian Eaddy:
Oh yeah. Yeah. I would say that planning for us started during the colder months in preparation for what we expect to be a really great and warm summer.

Leslie Kuban:
That’s fantastic. That’s fantastic. I would love to hear about your experience. Let’s talk about the fact that you are in the top five of your class. You has it done something right. What would you attribute the good start to? What you’ve done and how you’ve gone about organizing yourselves, just what are some lessons of how to do this right so that others can be a top performer in their class?

Stephanie Eaddy:
Absolutely. For us, the biggest thing was really actioning the playbook that was given to us from corporate. Paying close attention to all of the recommendations and the guidance that were given to us from our corporate office and putting those into action here in the Atlanta marketplace, but with our own spend. Really bringing that local feel that Adrian and I bring to the table, as long term residents of the Atlanta area. At the end of the day, differentiating ourselves from our competition through careful attention to detail, and providing outstanding customer service, and really using our network to help spread the word and let people know that we were here.

Leslie Kuban:
You sure did. I remember right when you launched your business, I started seeing the Facebook videos right away. You’re there with your vests. I guess what I would like to point out about that is that you really did the ground game part immediately, and hard, and you did it well. I’ve seen that make a huge difference across all kinds of businesses where people really prioritize the marketing, and getting their brand out there, getting themselves out there in creative ways, makes a huge difference in how you grow.

Stephanie Eaddy:
Yeah, it was really easy for me. I came from a long corporate marketing background, and getting creative and having fun in marketing was certainly not a new skill to build, but being in February, standing outside, waving at people, putting out signs, walking door to door to do door hangers, working with my husband to build this business was new. It was all about taking transferable skills from one industry, and applying it in a new way in this new industry. But again, using the mechanisms, and the tips, and the tools that were provided, as opposed to starting my own, or building something from scratch, I think that really allowed us to focus on growing and developing the business, and providing great customer service, as opposed to trying to figure out where to start.

Leslie Kuban:
Here’s the playbook. Putting it into use at its max, is the lesson, it’s sounds like.

Adrian Eaddy:
Absolutely.

Leslie Kuban:
It sounds like you’re working really well with the other franchisees in the market. I saw that article where you were acknowledged with two other women, Stephanie, in the market. How’s that experience been working with other franchisees in your backyard?

Stephanie Eaddy:
We’ve built some amazing friendships through this program. Here in Georgia, there’s two other franchisees that are women owned, or women co-owned. It’s been an incredible opportunity to have that network. One of the franchisees in Alpharetta has been around for two, almost three years now. She really brought a lot of great institutional knowledge and support for myself and our Powder Springs owner. I think building a team together, learning together, but also leveraging one another, was really helpful when it was again, a new experience. Some days we felt like we didn’t know what we were doing, and other days we knew that we could share and give that experience to another.

Adrian Eaddy:
Yeah. I would add, it’s also nice that you have brand representation in these other areas of Metro Atlanta. Our success is a shared success amongst all of the franchises here in the Atlanta area.

Leslie Kuban:
Yeah. I like to say, you’re on the same team, wearing the same Jersey, or the same vest, in this case, literally, and that’s great. You’re off to a great start, but starting a business is not for the faint of heart. There are challenges and problems, and if it’s okay, I’d like to ask you about that as well. What was harder? What was more challenging than you thought it was going to be?

Adrian Eaddy:
I would say, given, again, where we were with this pandemic, I don’t think we had a real grasp on what the staffing situation would look like. I think for us, following the advice, doing our due diligence, I just think because of this is just a really once in a lifetime, if you will, event, I think that really threw our staffing plans into rewind. We just had to retool, if you will.

Stephanie Eaddy:
Lot of pivoting. I think that for anyone who’s looking to start their own business, being flexible, being humble, and looking at every day with a glass half full is going to be so helpful, because you’re right, we were hit with a lot of things that we weren’t expecting, even with the best laid plans. I think what Adrian and I did was just try to constantly look at things as a positive, or a learning opportunity to help our business.

Leslie Kuban:
How are you addressing the staffing challenges, if I can be nosy and ask? I’m sure you’re still figuring it out. It’s a work in progress.

Stephanie Eaddy:
I would say that the job market is looking better this year than it did before. We’ve had the opportunity to bring on our techs from last year, as well as add to the team and have good plans for how, and when, we’ll grow this season.

Leslie Kuban:
You’re planning for growth, then.

Stephanie Eaddy:
Absolutely.

Leslie Kuban:
Kind of coming into your second year. What does that look like? What does year two look like? What do the plans look like for, and where you’re spending your time now?

Stephanie Eaddy:
Yeah, well growth, number one. We want to double our business this year. We’ve set some pretty lofty goals for ourselves to do that. Really, it’s just about taking things that worked really well from last year and continuing to run the play. Again, attention to detail, good customer service, caring about our customers, and knowing the importance of being a small business that shows up when you need them to, I think we’re going to be part of our recipe for success.

Adrian Eaddy:
I’ll also add, being in this industry, we’ve had experience on the other side as being customers. We knew what we wanted from that standpoint, and that same type of customer service, and attention to detail, is what we expect to give to our customer base now.

Stephanie Eaddy:
Absolutely.

Leslie Kuban:
That’s great. Being in their shoes sure helps a lot. How are you guys dividing your time? You’re both active in the business. Have you distinguished roles? How’s the couple working together part going?

Stephanie Eaddy:
We did. We started out, and largely thanks to your help, in identifying what each of us could bring from our prior work experience into the role. Adrian took a much more operational lens, looking at the products we were using, getting into the technical details of the business, working with our technicians. I took on the sales and marketing role. We just led from our respective roles.

Stephanie Eaddy:
As time went on, we hired, and we added people to help us. Bringing on a marketing coordinator, having someone help at staff events, and continuing to invest in people, even sometimes before we really needed it, really allowed us the opportunity to set the business up for success while still investing our time in other pursuits that we have as business and entrepreneurs.

Leslie Kuban:
I hope our viewers looking at getting into business take what you just said to heart, hiring even a little bit before you actually need to, so when you get busy, you’re not scrambling to service the customers that are now calling and looking for service. That’s great.

Stephanie Eaddy:
I worked in the service in the restaurant industry for a while, and I had had a manager who used to always say, “If you have time to lean, you have time to clean.” I take that to heart today, which is, even if you think that there’s not enough business for your employees, there’s always something to do. Whether it’s ground game, competitive research, stocking up on supplies, taking training and online courses, or getting out to the customers and getting testimonials. There’s always something to do with the small business. That helps us to staff and continue to invest in staff.

Leslie Kuban:
Always something to learn. That’s true. Let’s talk a little bit about going back to the beginning, again. You didn’t call me asking for a pest control business. You called saying we’d like to own our own business. These are some reasons why, but you went … Think back to your self-reflection process, and just translating into advice for others who are now thinking about doing something like you were back then, just how did you come about realizing the criteria? You looked at a variety of businesses and you landed on Mosquito Hunters, but what had you land on Mosquito Hunters at the end of the day?

Stephanie Eaddy:
Well, I think I can … The business model behind Mosquito Hunters was the most aligned to what we were looking to do at this time. To what Adrian said, this was a catalyst moment. We weren’t necessarily thinking about starting a business right away. It was something that we thought was going to be in our fifties or sixties. Understanding the right business model that matched our investment opportunities, our interests, our time, is what I think got us narrowed down to Mosquito Hunters, in particular.

Adrian Eaddy:
Yeah, I would agree. On top of the things that Stephanie listed out, also knowing where our fires would be, how we would treat those fires, being in the mosquito business, those fires mainly have to do with how do we treat this person’s lawn differently than say someone who has a lot of shade, just different techniques that really helped us focus in on this business, as well as the fact that our business could still flourish in the midst of what everyone’s going through right now.

Leslie Kuban:
Yeah. Right. You started in the middle of it. Well, that’s a really good point that no business is perfect. Every business is going to have a fire to put out. It’s just different fires depending on the business. I think that’s some great advice for people looking at opportunities, is to figure out, well, what’s the fire that I’m probably going to have to put out, and you make sure it’s something that you can sleep at night with.

Adrian Eaddy:
Absolutely.

Stephanie Eaddy:
That’s right.

Leslie Kuban:
That’s great. Well, do you have any advice for folks who were in your shoes a year and a half ago, looking at opportunities, just how they might go through their self-reflection process?

Stephanie Eaddy:
Yeah. I’m sure my advice would be different than Adrian’s, if we’re true to form, but I might say, don’t wait. If you’re looking to get into a business opportunity, or become an entrepreneur, just get out there and try it. You will find so many people are willing to support you, so much great advice. I would say, don’t wait till everything’s perfect. Get out there even when it’s messy and give it a try.

Adrian Eaddy:
Yeah. I would also add to that. Expect hard work, but also expect rewards from that hard work. It’s not going to be something that, at least in my opinion, is going to be easy initially, but as long as you keep working hard, you keep your goals laid out in front of you, they’re accomplishable.

Leslie Kuban:
And have a supportive spouse, I would say.

Adrian Eaddy:
Absolutely. Without said.

Leslie Kuban:
Probably go ahead and hand with that. Well, that’s great.

Stephanie Eaddy:
And patient kids.

Adrian Eaddy:
Yes.

Leslie Kuban:
I’m so proud of you guys, and really excited to have you. I can’t wait to have you back on your second year anniversary and see how your second year has been, but how can customers get in touch with you?

Stephanie Eaddy:
Yeah, well, they can reach out to us at mosquitohunters.com, or they can give us a call at 1-866-4A-Hunter, and we would be more than happy to take care of them and help them take back their yard.

Leslie Kuban:
Well, thanks so much for coming on the show today.

Adrian Eaddy:
Thank you, Leslie.

Leslie Kuban:
Folks, thanks for joining me again on Atlanta Franchise Today. I hope you enjoyed this interview as much as I did. If it’s inspired some interest in Mosquito Hunters, either for service as a customer, or as a franchise opportunity, a QR code is popping up on your screen right now. If you open up the camera on your phone, you’ll see a website that will allow you to request access to get information from Mosquito Hunters right away.


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