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Michael Carli, had a successful pest control company, sold it and now helps other businesses create businesses to sell or hand down. Like many of us, Michael came from an entrepreneurial family, starting his own business at age 12, a neighborhood lawn service called the Green Machine. After high school Michael joined the Air Force where he learned pest control.
He started his pest control company in 1990 and spent the next 21 years building it into one of the largest, independently-owned pest control business in the Tampa Bay area. He was happy to have the chance to see a small family business combined with a large national corporation. Michael spent two years managing their Tampa operations and retired two years later after 31 years in the business.
Michael started his business as a residential pest control company because of a non-compete he had to work out, after that two years was up they focused on Commercial. The company was a full service pest control company that worked in all 4 categories available for pest control. This required licensing and training specific to each category of pest. Any business that was required beyond that (like tenting for termites) was referred out. This spirit of abundance lead to many great partnerships over the years.
One of the keys to growing is networking and collaborative marketing. It is important to identify an exact target market and perfect client. As an example, the top referral source for attorneys is other law offices. If you do what you are good at and refer out what you are not good at your business can grow exponentially.
Success for Michael came because of steady growth over the years. He attributes 97.5% of this success to tracking where the business was coming from every month and resetting daily, weekly and monthly goals. At the start all he knew what that he had money in the bank so “I must be doing good.” But in reality all he was doing was putting out fires. Eventually he ran out of hours and hit a ceiling. He asked other pest control operators what they were were doing…and found out that there was supposed to be production and revenue goals, tracking where business was coming from and building a team. He started delegating what he wasn’t good at, not trying to get good at things that he didn’t want to do. A key is to hire people who are smarter than you are. The company that purchased his had 1050 Employees and such great resources that it was a pleasure to take a “break” after he sold to them for the next couple of years.
Big win. Starting a client appreciation day was a big win for Michael’s business. 5 or 6 years into the business, Michael had a contract with the local minor league stadium and found out they had parties available. The 1st year he needed 30 people, but only had 28 RSVPs so he invited his Mom and Dad for the baseball game and fireworks. The last year in business, 600 people attended! It wound up being a tremendous marketing tool for his company. His competition didn’t do anything like that and his technicians would hear about the baseball game from the customers for months. The key is to just do something….stay in motion!
Ah ha moment. A key turning point for Michael was when he had to approach his first secretary and let her know that she was either going to have to go full time or job share as there was too much work for a part time employee. She said she was not going to share and wanted to stay part time and he had to let her go. While he felt bad, he realized that he was taking all the risks of business and that she worked for him, not the other way around.
“You don’t know the outcome at the time something happens, but sometimes it sure turns out better than you could have thought!” – Michael Carli
The Carli Group Today
The Carli Group helps businesses get to the point where they can sell a viable business. The buyer is buying the sellers systems, goodwill, value and products. The goal is to merge the new business seamlessly. This is much easier when there are systems in place so that the business doesn’t rely on people individually putting out fires. Anyone can come in and be trained on systems.
When the buyer buys your company, they want a 6 month to one year period of time to make the transition and then the owner can go off into the sunset!
Selling the pest control company was just a six-week process. A sale like this involves trust, patience and you have to become a part of their family before the closing date. Michael has a great relationship with them to this day.
The Carli Group is a business advisor not a coach. A business coach normally has purchased a franchise, a common one is Action Coach, and normally there is a set agenda from week to week and month to month. You have purchased your credentials through their in-house training. As a business advisor, Michael does not require a contract, fees are month-to-month and he has done what he is teaching.