Do you run a seasonal business or thought about opening one? Or maybe you’ve wondered if you should franchise your seasonal home services business. If these thoughts have crossed your mind, today’s episode is for you. Our guest today is Michael Moorhouse, and he is the president of Mosquito Shield, which has nearly 400 locations around the country.
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ABOUT OUR GUEST:
Michael Moorhouse is president of Mosquito Shield, America’s trusted provider of effective residential mosquito and tick control service and one of the fastest-growing franchises in the United States. With a proven track record in sales, marketing and business development, he was instrumental in transforming Mosquito Shield from an innovative local service provider to the leading mosquito and tick control franchise brand. Michael’s expertise and extensive experience help him consistently build high-performance franchise teams through leadership, policies and procedures and accountability.
ABOUT BIG SKY FRANCHISE TEAM:
This episode is powered by Big Sky Franchise Team. If you are ready to talk about franchising your business you can schedule your free, no-obligation, franchise consultation online at: https://bigskyfranchiseteam.com/ or by calling Big Sky Franchise Team at: 855-824-4759.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (00:01):
Welcome to the Multiply Your Success podcast, where each week, we help growth-minded entrepreneurs and franchise leaders take the next step in their expansion journey. I’m your host, Tom DuFore, CEO of Big Sky Franchise Team. As we open today, I’m wondering if you run a seasonal business, or maybe you’ve thought about opening one, or maybe you’ve wondered if you should franchise your seasonal home services business.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (00:25):
And if these thoughts have crossed your mind, today’s episode is for you. Our guest today is Michael Moorhouse, who shares with us how his seasonal franchise business has been able to not just grow but thrive across the country. Now Michael is the president of Mosquito Shield, America’s trusted provider of effective residential mosquito and tick control service, and one of the fastest-growing franchises in the country with nearly 400 locations.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (00:54):
With a proven track record in sales, marketing, and business development, he was instrumental in transforming Mosquito Shield from an innovative local service provider to the leading mosquito and tick control franchise brand. Michael’s expertise and extensive experience help him consistently build high-performance franchise teams through leadership, policies and procedures, and accountability. You’re going to love this interview, so let’s go ahead and jump right into it.
Michael Moorhouse, Mosquito Shield (01:18):
Michael Moorhouse, brand president at Mosquito Shield.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (01:22):
For those who maybe are not familiar with Mosquito Shield, give us a quick overview.
Michael Moorhouse, Mosquito Shield (01:26):
Yeah. So we are a national franchise that services primarily residential mosquito control. We launched in 2013, so in our 11th season of providing mosquito control around the country.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (01:39):
Great. I’d love for you to talk a little bit about the company’s growth and just some things as you’ve grown, how you manage growing and culture, and all these things that happen as you grow from one operating territory to a whole bunch all over the country.
Michael Moorhouse, Mosquito Shield (01:55):
Yeah, we just had our national convention, so it was interesting to be there with a lot of our original franchisees that came in 10 years ago. So we got to talk a lot about the 10th anniversary and celebrating that and told some stories that I’ve been blessed enough to be part of it from the beginning and onboarding every franchisee we have. But remembering when we had zero and going to the first trade show trying to sell franchisees, and I learned people coming up to the booth were asking, “How many do you have?”
Michael Moorhouse, Mosquito Shield (02:23):
And I didn’t have any. So I quickly pivoted to just saying, “Several under development” until we could get that first one and then the second one. And what was so humbling for me last week at our convention was they’re still with us. So to call them up on stage of franchisee number one and franchisee number two and the largest in our system and the most respected in our system, it’s just really great that that’s the case.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (02:49):
Give us an idea in terms of how many operating franchises you have, how many are total in your system, and then talk about maintaining that culture and the community and the stability within a franchise system as you grow to where you are today.
Michael Moorhouse, Mosquito Shield (03:05):
Yeah. I mean, we went through an epic run starting in 2020 right after COVID hit that… heading into that season, and we can probably talk about that a little bit more later, but we went on an epic run and catapulted from 54 territories to now we’re at over 370 territories, so massive growth in a relatively short amount of time. We were certainly prepared for it to the most that we could be, right.
Michael Moorhouse, Mosquito Shield (03:30):
I mean, I think we… anyone that goes through a run like that, you start to see where there are areas of opportunity, and you got to kind of fill those holes as you’re going, but to scale to that size, we had a pretty good foundation in place to be able to do that. And I think that our advantage in this industry, specifically in mosquito control, is we’ve been doing mosquito control since 2001 as a company. So we’re 22 years into this, which is kind of hard to believe for a lot of people. But first and foremost, we’re a mosquito control company that got into franchising.
Michael Moorhouse, Mosquito Shield (04:05):
So just foundationally, we’re so sound from an operational standpoint, our own products, our own equipment. So just a lot of just core best practices that we’re not trying to figure that part of it out along with the franchising side of things. And 10 years ago, I would own up that we weren’t really great at franchising. We were the best at mosquito control because we were a mosquito control company. But in the last 10 years, we’ve learned and have grown tremendously on the franchising side of things and feel pretty comfortable as a franchisor.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (04:38):
Yeah. Well, thank you for sharing that. And as a franchisor in your business, I’d have to imagine a question that comes up from prospective franchisees joining your system, and it’s something that comes up often in our line of work is how does franchising work in a seasonal business, how does that all shake out? And I would imagine there’s some seasonality, especially in northern climates, with your business, so I’d love for you to talk on that.
Michael Moorhouse, Mosquito Shield (05:03):
Yeah, it is. I call it the blessing and the curse. And the curse is the first couple of years, and we really talk through that with people considering this business opportunity and a lot of home services, for that matter, that have a seasonal component to it. And we, as a rule, are very seasonal. We have a lot of locations that are five months that they’re only open for five months and some that are six and some that are seven. That’s the core of who we are. And then a smaller percentage that are down in the south that might be open anywhere from nine to 12 months out of the year.
Michael Moorhouse, Mosquito Shield (05:35):
The challenge is if you’re in the Midwest and you’re opening up, you’re going to start in May, you’re going to close in October, you got to wait till that following May to go through that all again, and then by the end of that October, you’ve been open for 12 months, but you’ve been a franchisee for two years. So that’s the challenge in making sure that you’re capitalized enough. It’s a low-cost startup. It’s one of the things that we’re touted as. You don’t need a brick-and-mortar.
Michael Moorhouse, Mosquito Shield (05:59):
But you still have to have enough capital to last those two-off seasons when you’re not doing anything. The blessing is when you scale this business, it’s got incredible margins, it’s very scalable. Your overhead stays the same. No matter how big you get, your rent doesn’t go up. Your utility bills don’t go up no matter how many trucks you’re running. So that’s what makes this very scalable. And the blessing side of it is you start making 12 months of revenue in that five or six-month period. You got to get there. You got to have the staying power.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (06:28):
I grew up in the Chicago area and I always remember the local dairy queens oftentimes would shut down. They’re only open for basically those summer months, and then they’re gone. So certainly understand that and what a great business model to be able to share with what you’re talking about here with these five months of operation to gain a full year’s worth of revenue and income. So just out of curiosity then, for those franchisees in the system that are open 5, 6, 7 months, what do they do with the rest of their time? What are they doing during those windows?
Michael Moorhouse, Mosquito Shield (07:00):
Yeah, it’s a great question, and I think there is a little bit of a misunderstanding there, and I’ll unpack that a little bit because there are things that happen in the off-season, right, especially as you get bigger. If you’re… Say you’re running an eight-truck operation, which is very common for us, where a franchisee has eight technicians out on the road every day, the season ends, and if you’re in those shorter climate areas, it’s likely all those vans need to be cleaned and winterized, so there’s a process that goes through that. And then you’re sort of doing a postmortem on your season, and you’re engaging with your customers.
Michael Moorhouse, Mosquito Shield (07:32):
We’re very successful with prepay programs where we send an offer to our customers as the season’s ending and just saying, “Hey, listen, as an existing customer, no one’s ever going to pay less than you. Sign up now for next year and save X.” So you’ll manage that inflow of money coming in as you’re turning your lights off and winterizing your vans. It’s a great thing to have cash flow coming in when you’re closing for the season, but that’s a tactic that needs to be managed and work. So that’ll take you maybe into mid-November, and then you get to decompress a little bit for the holidays. But then you come right out of January, you’re back in the… you’re working with the marketing department here, making sure your plan and budget is in place for the next season.
Michael Moorhouse, Mosquito Shield (08:13):
We do really well at the, they call them spring, but they’re usually January, February, and March home shows, flower patio, home and garden-type shows. So we really encourage our zees to be presenting at those shows. So those take place during that time of year. And then, before you know it, the techs are coming back and you’re summarizing the vans, you’re getting them ready to go, and you’re initiating your marketing campaign. So it is a great time because you are 300 miles an hour from, call it April to October. It is just go, go, go, go, go. So that off-season, while you are doing some of those tactics, there is a bit of breath… a breath of fresh air and a chance to kind of recharge your batteries.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (08:57):
One of the things we referenced a little bit earlier in the interview here is in 2020 starting around that window, it sounds like you added about 300 franchises over the last three years since 2020. Just curious to know your opinion. Why do you think home service businesses have been in such high demand?
Michael Moorhouse, Mosquito Shield (09:15):
I think it’s clearly tied back to the pandemic. I think it’s been across home service industries, so not just in the pest control space but in all home services. We all found ourselves stuck at home, and everything’s under the microscope at that point, and you’re looking at things that just have been neglected for too long, or you just want to refresh, and you want to do. And the beauty of Mosquito Shield for us is that we have such a long… I always tell people the greatest thing about our history, the most important thing about it is that we have one.
Michael Moorhouse, Mosquito Shield (09:47):
We’ve been around so long. We’ve seen so many things. We witnessed what happened after 9/11. We witnessed what happened after the 2008, 2009 crash. During that time, when the term staycation was born, people were staying home. And that happened again during COVID where they were reinvesting into their properties because there was nowhere else to go, right. These grand vacations were canceled. And so what happened was the need for home services just increased, and we benefited from that because people all they could do was spend time in their backyard and they wanted to do that comfortably.
Michael Moorhouse, Mosquito Shield (10:21):
And that’s where the other thing that we saw that was sort of a benefit from it was the neighbors were also home. So in years past, when our technicians showed up, and fired up the backpack and made a bunch of noise, there was nobody there to hear it. But during COVID, people were looking out their windows and saying, “Oh, what does the neighbor have going on? I need that.” And it was the perfect storm from that standpoint.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (10:45):
I wouldn’t have even thought of it. But hearing you mention that, it’s like, yeah, I did the exact same thing. I saw, “What is my neighbor having done? You know what? We need to have that done here too.” Well, one of the things that’s interesting because you’ve been with the brand really from the beginning of the franchise efforts, and a lot of the folks that tune in and will end up listening to this are emerging brand franchisors. So just out of curiosity, what do you wish maybe you had known back then that now or advice you give to an emerging brand franchisor as they’re starting to launch and grow?
Michael Moorhouse, Mosquito Shield (11:19):
Yeah, I look at all businesses, whether you’re just that you’re emerging and launching or you’re one that might be stagnant and looking to grow to the next level. I kind of put it into three categories, right. You got to know who your customer is, so your demographic, geographic, and psychographic. So I mean, who are they? Where do they live, and how do they act? How they behave, right? You have to know that. And then your business, you should look at it and say, “What are three uniques for me for my business? What are three things that make me unique, right?”
Michael Moorhouse, Mosquito Shield (11:50):
Because you want to have that as a differentiator as you’re going to market and you’re promoting it. And then, the last of the three buckets is really is the process proven, right? Because if you’re a franchise system, you want to have a proven process because that’s what somebody’s buying into. So is it really proven? And then, is there anything you can attach to that? Meaning, is there a guarantee you can offer? What is the franchisee going to have as leverage when they go to market? When they’re selling to whoever their end user is, what is it that they have? Is there a guarantee? Is there something proprietary? Those are the things you want to think about.
Michael Moorhouse, Mosquito Shield (12:26):
And if you’re listening to this podcast and you’re in that emerging brand situation, you have it. You’ve got to dig down and find out what it is, and you can spin it in a way to make sure that you’re differentiating yourself. So what are your three uniques? Make sure you’ve got that proven process, and what’s that guarantee that separates you from everybody else? That’s how I look at any business is through those. Who your customer is, what makes you unique, and how do you prove out the process?
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (12:57):
Excellent advice. Thank you. That’s wonderful. Well, Michael, this is a great time in the show where we make a transition, and we ask every guest the same four questions before they go. And the first question we ask is, have you had a miss or two on your journey and something you learned from it?
Michael Moorhouse, Mosquito Shield (13:11):
Yeah, I mean, I’d go way, way back if I’m allowed to when I was probably 19 or 20 years old, and a buddy of mine and myself, we started our own business. It was a high-end, but takeout ice cream, fast food place. It went amazingly well. And we kind of created this cult following to where people were coming to us wanting to open another one. So we did. We opened a second location and after about a three or four-year period had the opportunity to open two more locations, and it was like make or break for us.
Michael Moorhouse, Mosquito Shield (13:44):
And it was at the time in my life when the pressures to start a family and settle down and we passed. And it was one of those things that I look back on and realize and wish 35 years later that we pulled the trigger on that. We would’ve had really four operating turnkey locations. I didn’t know what franchising was back then, but that was franchising at its finest and we had that. We had a really cool opportunity to do that, and we still kick ourselves when we get together and talk about it. But that was a big miss on a lot of fronts for me, personally and professionally.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (14:24):
Thanks for sharing. And let’s talk about a make or two. Let’s look at the other side, a highlight you’d like to share.
Michael Moorhouse, Mosquito Shield (14:30):
Yeah, I’m going to piggyback a little bit on the COVID conversation, but it was pre-COVID because we didn’t know this was coming. We didn’t know what was going to happen in 2020. But in 2019, I saw an opportunity within this industry that we live in, in the pest control, mosquito control specifically industry where nationally there were a couple of big players, but there had been some recent acquisition with both of them. There was a little bit of a vacuum happening, I thought, on the consumer side of things where maybe some of their… a homeowner’s provider may no longer have been in business or hard to get ahold of.
Michael Moorhouse, Mosquito Shield (15:08):
And I just saw that after… I saw that we had… I believed we had a chance in 2019 to put our stake in the ground and really escalate. And so I made the move to partner with an FSO, believing that that… we were ready to do that, and it was the best move we had made as a brand. It was risky in the sense that that’s a whole new relationship, right. You’re turning over a lot of responsibility to somebody else.
Michael Moorhouse, Mosquito Shield (15:37):
But we found a great partner in doing that. And it just so happened that we signed a contract, that be first week of March, with them to go live of 2020. Pandemic hit. We all panicked for about two weeks until we realized that mosquito control was considered essential service in every state. So there was a big sigh of relief, and then, from there, it just was full steam ahead after that. So that’s definitely my make.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (16:04):
And for someone who tunes in FSO stands for a franchise sales organization [inaudible 00:16:09]-
Michael Moorhouse, Mosquito Shield (16:08):
Yes, thank you.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (16:09):
… someone who’s not as familiar with that. Yeah.
Michael Moorhouse, Mosquito Shield (16:09):
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (16:11):
No problem. Well, Michael, the next question we ask is, have you used a multiplier in growing yourself personally or professionally or in growing your companies and organizations you’ve been a part of?
Michael Moorhouse, Mosquito Shield (16:22):
Over the last year and a half or so, we’ve brought EOS into running our business, and I’ve adopted a lot of that as well. Personally, I mean, when you’re setting and putting it out there either written or verbally, it becomes real, and having timelines against things to keep you on track. And that’s how EOS operates with rocks, which are 90-day goals, and then to-dos, which are seven-day [inaudible 00:16:48] to get done, and it’s on track or off track and done and not done.
Michael Moorhouse, Mosquito Shield (16:53):
And if it’s off track or not done, the question’s why, and it gives you a chance to kind of dig in. So, professionally, that’s been a huge help in growing our brand. And then, personally, for me, it’s been an eye-opener to help me stay focused, stay organized, and get far more done because you’re looking at it in manageable, kind of like bite-size increments.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (17:18):
Michael, the final question we ask every guest is, what does success mean to you?
Michael Moorhouse, Mosquito Shield (17:23):
You’re always chasing the materialistic things, right. As you’re going professionally it’s a lot of that stuff is measured that way. But to be fortunate enough to be at the position I’m in now, professionally and personally, I look at it really through two lenses. One is the success of my franchisees and how they’re doing. So that’s how I measure success on the professional side.
Michael Moorhouse, Mosquito Shield (17:44):
On the personal side, I look at it… I’ve got five kids, and I look at it through their eyes. As I’m getting older, I’m becoming a little bit more sentimental and empathetic, and which all good things and much needed in my life but I look at success through their eyes. What do my kids see? What do they see in my accomplishments? What do they see in our interactions together? So that’s how I measure it.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (18:06):
And as we bring this to a close, is there anything you were hoping to share or get across that you maybe haven’t had a chance to yet?
Michael Moorhouse, Mosquito Shield (18:13):
I think, in general, anytime these platforms present themselves, and I really thank you for this opportunity is having worked in franchising for so long and seeing the opportunities, it gives people that they’ve had that itch to own their own business. They don’t necessarily know how to get there and how to do it. That’s the structure and the great benefit behind franchising. And my thing is to one, I’m always available, whether it’s for mosquito control or anything else to talk about business opportunities.
Michael Moorhouse, Mosquito Shield (18:42):
So I would encourage any of the listeners to never hesitate to reach out if you wanted to brainstorm something. But I just encourage people to take that leap because I feel like there’s never the right time. There’s never the wrong time, right. It’s always just if you’ve had that itch, find a fit, find something. You mentioned cultural earlier, and I think that’s really, really important and find a cultural fit for what your beliefs are and align with that. But I just really encourage people to take the leap into business ownership.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (19:09):
Wonderful. And what’s the best way, if someone says, “You know, I’m interested to learn a little bit more about what you’re doing, or maybe have a friend or someone I know that might be interested in your franchise,” how can they learn more about it?
Michael Moorhouse, Mosquito Shield (19:20):
Moshieldfranchise.com. So moshieldfranchise.com is the easiest thing, certainly my profile, Michael Moorhouse, on LinkedIn. I always put it out there. Michael@moshield.com is my direct email. And I would encourage anyone that wants to reach out and connect to send me an email and we’ll set up a time to jump on a call.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (19:41):
Michael, thank you so much for a fantastic interview and let’s go ahead and jump into today’s three key takeaways. So takeaway number one is when Michael described seasonal businesses as both a blessing and a curse. And he described that initial curse as really being the first two years of operation where you need to be able to weather the down times and know that you may have only operated your business for 12 months, but you’ve actually been in business for two years. I liked how he described that because eventually, you get to the point after a couple of years of operation where you’re able to achieve 12 months of revenue during the six months or so, whatever your seasonal time period would be, of operation.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (20:29):
Takeaway number two is that he was poised and prepared to catapult their growth in 2020 when they grew from just over 50 locations or franchises to over 370 franchises in that three year period. And he said that part of the driver that allowed them to do that is that they were operationally sound because they had been operating for 10 years before they even started franchising. Takeaway number three, as he described three things or three categories you need to know as the leader of your organization. You need to know who your customers are, what are your three differentiators or unique qualifiers, and do you have a proven process or something proprietary. And now, it’s time for today’s win-win.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (21:22):
Today’s win-win comes from when Michael talked about right before we ended the interview, and he said, “If you’re thinking about it or wondering,” he said, “take that leap into franchising and find the franchise that has the cultural fit.” And really, I think about that, whether you’re thinking about franchising your business, starting that new business, or maybe buying that franchise. And tying this back to the miss that Michael shared that he had for a company he started when he was 19, which he had said was over 35 years ago, that he still will think about and reminisce about. And the missed opportunity where business was going, it was growing, it was doing great, and then decided not to take that next step, that next leap to grow the business to the next level of where it was going.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (22:09):
So let’s hope that you can take that next courageous step for you and your business and your business ownership pathway and leadership so that you are looking back and saying, 35 years from now, “Boy, I’m glad that I took that next step.” And so that’s the episode today, folks. Please make sure you subscribe to the podcast and give us a review. And remember, if you or anyone might be ready to franchise your business or take their franchise company to the next level, please connect with us at bigskyfranchiseteam.com. Thanks for tuning in, and we look forward to having you back next week.