Articles

Almost every pest management professional (PMP) I speak with is looking to increase sales without spending more on advertising. The most common solution is to sell additional services to your existing customers on services you can provide with current resources without significant incremental costs.

We see examples of this every day. Ordering “fries with your burger” is the most referenced example. Here are some other non-pest examples:

  • Upgrades on car washes to include wax and tires.
  • Improved seats when you travel by air or rail.
  • Hair products offered when you are getting a haircut.
  • Appetizers before ordering dinner.
  • Desserts after eating dinner.
  • New wiper blades when your vehicle is serviced.

All these examples provide customer value while increasing gross margin without additional investment.

The ability to consistently make these incremental sales is what we need to focus on.

The answer is one simple word: Ask!

Coaching staff to ask is what we need to do. The ability to process rejection is what matters.

Most successful people do not let rejection define them. They let their reaction to rejection define themselves. Sports is a great example of how this works:

  • Baseball players are successful when they get one hit of three at-bats.
  • Most basketball players miss more than half the shots they take.
  • Golfers typically don’t make the green in regulation.
  • Soccer and hockey goals are scored on a small percentage of shots on goal.

Successful people learn that processing rejection is how to improve results. Asking every customer contact if they want a mosquito application added to their routine service will result in increased sales without additional cost. The companies that can stay disciplined in their approach of asking will see a large increase in gross margin.

Tracking rejection can make this fun and not allow rejection to stop additional effort. I have run campaigns where I incentivize staff by paying for “The Ask” vs. the sale. The unconventional measure brings attention to the process. It teaches people that the amount of rejection they actually experience is far less than they perceive it to be. It will result in discussions of how to respond to a “no.” It will make the awkward moments feel normal and allow opportunities to improve your process.

The ability to stay quiet after you ask for something is the hardest part for most people. Allowing the person to say no without handling objections makes it a better process.

I’ll end with an example I recently dealt with firsthand: My wife and I recently attended a movie at a nearby community theater. While buying our tickets, we were asked about becoming a supporting member. The ask was reasonable. Although we save a little money on future tickets, the real benefit is supporting the theater we routinely enjoy. This was after we were solicited by emails repeatedly asking for the same thing.

Asking is free and it works.


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We were very pleased to have such a knowledgeable and experienced company in our corner with the team at Cetane. It was obvious that they knew the best process and how to get the ball over the goal line. Their advice throughout the process was greatly appreciated and we thoroughly enjoyed working with them.

— Steve Lombardi, Brodeur’s Oil, Moosup, CT
PCO in the Know

The Anatomy of a Compliment —

PCOs already know that managing people is their most important job. We can’t operate and grow without having people. The vast majority of PCOs list their people (or the ever-present “Culture”) as to what makes their company better—their “secret sauce.” Learning how to compliment their staff is an underrated and underdeveloped practice.

Based on the simple premise that PEOPLE WHO FEEL GOOD ABOUT THEMSELVES DO A BETTER JOB—to reinforce the value, let’s dissect the anatomy of a well-done compliment.

Here are the three basic rules of a great compliment:

  • Be specific
  • Be focused
  • Don’t water down the moment

Being specific requires something that the employee did that you can cover. It can be basic and usually repeatable.  “Joe, it was great how you called Mr. Brown after a service to clarify the notes you left.” General compliments like “you do a great job” only work marginally well.

Being focused requires having the person being complimented with their undivided attention. I recommend getting the approval of the employee for a private moment before you cover what they did well. The impact you get from this is exponential. The impact you have in this setting is game-changing.

When you keep talking or covering other topics you will likely water down the moment. To mention “opportunities for improvement” afterward would negate the previous complimentary statement. Let the positive moment ruminate.

I complimented an employee on how well his truck was organized. When I saw his wife at church she thanked me for saying that to her husband. He mentioned it three times over the weekend. His wife and family benefited from a person who feels good about himself.

Bob Williamson, Pest & Lawn Director
February 2024

PCO in the Know | Blog #5


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We were very pleased to have such a knowledgeable and experienced company in our corner with the team at Cetane. It was obvious that they knew the best process and how to get the ball over the goal line. Their advice throughout the process was greatly appreciated and we thoroughly enjoyed working with them.

— Steve Lombardi, Brodeur’s Oil, Moosup, CT
Press Releases

NEW MILFORD, Conn. – February 13, 2024 – Cetane Associates (“Cetane”) is pleased to announce that Dead River Company has acquired Bourne’s, Inc. (“Bourne’s Energy”), a full-service propane, heating fuels, and pellets delivery business located in Morrisville, Vt. The transaction was completed on February 1, 2024.

Bourne’s Energy has a rich family history in the delivered fuels business. Established in 1947 by Robert and Julie Bourne in Morristown, Vermont, the business initially operated as a modest heating oil delivery service. Over the years, the business grew and evolved under Bob’s leadership, expanding its services to include repair work in the 1960s. In 1973, Bob’s son, Peter Bourne, joined the company, eventually taking ownership in 1988. Mike Bourne, Peter’s brother, became part owner in the 1990s, and the company would begin propane delivery operations in 1994. Bourne’s Energy has continued to grow, acquiring and integrating various businesses and diversifying its product range to include biodiesel, propane autogas, and wood pellets. They have remained committed to environmental sustainability, offering the region’s greenest and most environmentally friendly fuel and equipment options. Peter’s son, Levi, has since become the company president and continues the company’s tradition of giving back to the communities served and fostering a “whatever it takes mentality” among its employees. Bourne’s Energy now serves over 12,000 customers across Vermont. Owner Peter Bourne said, “We are so pleased our family legacy will continue on at Dead River Company. Their commitment to their customers and employees matches ours.” He continued, “A special thanks to the team at Cetane for their guidance during the transaction. They were instrumental in making this process a resounding success!”

Founded in 1909 by Charles Hutchins, Dead River Company had its roots in the forest products industry. They entered the petroleum business in 1936 and have since grown to be the largest full-service heating provider in northern New England. By operating locally managed offices throughout Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts, Dead River Company maintains deep roots in the communities that it serves. Casey Cramton, President and Chief Executive Officer, remarked, “We are delighted that Peter Bourne has chosen Dead River Company to continue caring for his customers and employees at Bourne’s Energy.  Our shared values will ensure that everyone continues to feel right at home.”

Tamera Kovacs, Director at Cetane Associates, commented, “Thank you to Peter and his team at Bourne’s Energy for choosing Cetane to represent them. They were a pleasure to work with, and we couldn’t be happier for them. Wishing them all the best in their next chapter.”

Cetane served as the sole arranger to Bourne’s Energy. Cetane advised on the sale, including an initial valuation opinion, marketing the business through a confidential process, assisting in negotiating the final deal terms, and coordinating the due diligence process. Team members Tamera Kovacs, Barrett Conway, Fred Lord, Dalton Brooks, and Trey Brasseaux managed the transaction.


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We were very pleased to have such a knowledgeable and experienced company in our corner with the team at Cetane. It was obvious that they knew the best process and how to get the ball over the goal line. Their advice throughout the process was greatly appreciated and we thoroughly enjoyed working with them.

— Steve Lombardi, Brodeur’s Oil, Moosup, CT
Articles

First in a series.

Having bought businesses for the past 25 years of my career I can now give my insights to business sellers on how to best sell what they have worked decades to develop. As a former buyer I had represented the other side. We all have an agenda–this doesn’t make us bad–just normal.

Sellers would often ask me if they had waited too long and miss-timed the best time to sell. Their concerns were often interest rates, economy, COVID-19, and buyers’ appetites.

In reality, the market value of a well-run business will always be present and buyers smart enough to buy during downturns may have taken full advantage. While markets may go up and down–they can only be timed in the rear-view mirror.

The best timing is based on when the seller is ready to sell and prepared to proceed in a deliberate manner. They can then get the most value for their business from a buyer they feel comfortable with. Owners have worked hard for decades, taken all sorts of risk, and made personal sacrifices–they should decide when the time is right.

Many sellers will consider the process for a few years before making a decision. This can be especially true when there is more than one owner. Attempting to analyze the market can just add to the consternation. The most-pleased sellers always feel like they know the time is right for them.

 

Bob Williamson

Pest & Lawn Director, Cetane Associates

September 2023


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We were very pleased to have such a knowledgeable and experienced company in our corner with the team at Cetane. It was obvious that they knew the best process and how to get the ball over the goal line. Their advice throughout the process was greatly appreciated and we thoroughly enjoyed working with them.

— Steve Lombardi, Brodeur’s Oil, Moosup, CT
Press Releases

NEW MILFORD, Conn. – February 6, 2024 – Cetane Associates (“Cetane”) is pleased to announce that Daigle Oil Company (“Daigle”), of Fort Kent, Me., has acquired the propane assets related to Mapleton Oil Company Inc. (“Mapleton”), a full-service delivered fuels business located in Mapleton, Me. The transaction closed on January 26, 2024.

With their roots in the family-run earth moving and construction business, brothers Dale and Tim Wood decided to buy a fuel delivery truck and founded Mapleton Oil Company in November 2003. Early customers were mainly friends and family, but word-of-mouth and marketing soon grew their customer list. In late 2004, they bought a second delivery truck and incorporated the company in 2005. They also added off-road diesel fuel to meet demand from the logging industry. By 2008, they had added propane to their fuel line-up and discontinued the construction side of their business, deciding to focus entirely on fuel. Owners Dale and Tim Wood are retaining the heating oil and related operations of the business. Dale commented, “Mapleton Oil has been dedicated to providing quality fuels and exceptional service to our customers. We feel Daigle is a great fit for our propane customers and we’re delighted to have completed this sale with them.” Tim added, “Jeff and the team at Cetane Associates did a phenomenal job and we cannot thank them enough for their guidance throughout the entire process.”

Daigle Oil Company similarly began with a single fuel delivery truck. Better known as DOC, they were founded in 1955 by Guy Daigle in Fort Kent, Maine. Through the years, Guy continued to expand his fuel oil business by purchasing smaller companies in the surrounding areas. Guy passed the company to his son Rick in 1983, and following his father’s lead, Rick continued to grow the family business through acquisitions. Today, Daigle Oil Company is 100% employee owned and is a leading energy provider in northern and central Maine. Chief Operating Officer of Daigle, Carter Vaillancourt, remarked, “We are excited to welcome Mapleton’s propane customers to our family at DOC. We will continue to serve their customers with the same professionalism and warmth that Mapleton has provided for so many years.”

Jeff Brunner, Director at Cetane Associates, commented, “Congratulations to Dale and Tim. They are such great guys, hard workers, and it was an absolute pleasure to work with them.”

Cetane served as the sole arranger and financial advisor to Mapleton Oil Company. Cetane advised on the sale, including an initial valuation opinion, marketing the business through a confidential process, assisting in negotiating the final deal terms, and coordinating the due diligence process. The transaction was managed by team members Jeff Brunner, Barrett Conway and Dalton Brooks.


Current Business Listings

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We were very pleased to have such a knowledgeable and experienced company in our corner with the team at Cetane. It was obvious that they knew the best process and how to get the ball over the goal line. Their advice throughout the process was greatly appreciated and we thoroughly enjoyed working with them.

— Steve Lombardi, Brodeur’s Oil, Moosup, CT