How ‘Semi-Passive’ Franchise Possession Allowed Adrian & Stephanie Eaddy to Open Mosquito Hunters Buckhead and Maintain their Company Careers

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On today’s show, we’re pleased to welcome the new franchise owners of Mosquito Hunters, Adrian and Stephanie Eaddy, to discuss becoming “semi-passive” owners and their decision to franchise as a couple. We’re also joined by Leslie Kuban, franchise industry expert and Owner of FranNet Atlanta.

Transcription:

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Hi everyone. Jim Fitzpatrick and welcome into the Atlanta Small Business Show. We are so happy to be joined today’s show with new franchise owners of Mosquito Hunters, a brand you’re going to be hearing a lot more about. That’s Adrian and Stephanie Eaddy and they are going to be discussing becoming semi-passive owners and the decision to franchise as a couple. We’ll also be joined by Leslie Kuban who’s franchise industry expert here in Atlanta and owner of FranNet. Folks, thank you so much for joining me on the Atlanta Small Business Show.

Leslie Kuban:
Great to be here. Good to see you again.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Great. Congratulations to the two of you. In fact, let me ask you and I’ll leave this up to who wants to answer this question, but tell us a little bit about Mosquito Hunters and who your customers are.

Adrian Eaddy:
Mosquito Hunters is a part of the nest family of home services and Mosquito Hunters has a focus on mosquito abatement, fleas and ticks so you don’t have to be bothered by those pesky little critters when you’re outside enjoying a glass of wine or spending time with your family.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Boy, you nailed it because that’s exactly what my wife and I do in the whole time we’re… We ended up going, “Let’s go inside,” right? And we don’t want to do that because we’ve got a beautiful pool and patio so you’re definitely going to be answering the needs of many homeowners out there. When we’ll talk about that here in a minute but, how can customers get in touch with you? I know that you’re going to be launching here shortly, right? But in the meantime, can they visit your website?

Stephanie Eaddy:
Absolutely Jim. Yeah, they can reach us at mosquitohunters.com or they can send us an email at mh102@mosquitohunters.com and we love to hear from customers.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Fantastic. I know that people that are watching right now want to learn about the business and how you guys going to be working as a couple and how you came to the decision but at the same time, they’re going to be giving you a call to go, “Get these mosquitoes out of my backyard. Will you please?” Tell us a little about your corporate careers because I think this is a unique story here where there’s so many out there that are just like you that say, “Well, we have jobs. We want to be self-employed maybe one day and we want to be entrepreneurs.” Tell us a bit about how you got together and the idea behind making this more of a semi-passive income and opportunity.

Stephanie Eaddy:
Yeah, absolutely. Adrian and I had been talking about doing our own business or having a startup for a number of years and it really was because of the Coronavirus and being at home, working together and spending more time together that we realized that there was really an opportunity for us to try to accelerate this goal. We had in our heads that at age 55 we would retire from our corporate jobs and start a second career in something else and it hit us like, why are we waiting? What’s holding us back? Let’s start this process sooner and so that’s how we got here and we realized that even though I work in corporate marketing and Adrian’s in corporate IT, there’s still opportunity for us to get started now and start to realize our dreams sooner.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Well, that’s fantastic. I commend you both for taking that step and having that realization as you said, before you hit 55. And so let me ask you if I can hear Leslie, there’s a lot of people that fit into the Eaddy’s category, right where they’re sitting there saying, hey, we just realized maybe through COVID as they did that A, we could work together and B, what happens if something really did happen to our core income here? Would we have something to fall back on? And at the same time, how do we become one day entrepreneurs and self-employed, and the notion that we’ve got to wait till 55 or when we’re retired, that’s crazy, right? Do you have clients that are coming to you now because of COVID?

Leslie Kuban:
Well, because of COVID but even for many years before COVID, this is not a new goal that a lot of people have and for a lot of different reasons. Some people they’re successful and they’re just looking to expand their success. They’re looking to create more wealth for themselves. It might be a defense strategy of creating a second or third income so if there is a sudden job loss, it doesn’t impact their lifestyle significantly. Others want to see their business as a bridge, into full-time business ownership at some point and for a lot of people, they’re looking to create more time freedom.

Leslie Kuban:
I would say across the board, there’s financial reasons but equally there is the desire to build a business so that one can have more say so over their schedule and their time and just to have more flexibility in their life but at the same time, not wanting to or not being able to leave the corporate income that they’re presently enjoying. And so this is half the folks that I work with, it’s half the folks I’ve always worked with that are interested in building for the future and they may be working together as a couple. They may be working with an adult child. They may be a parent-child team that are dividing and conquering to build for the future.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah, no question. I got to ask you as I know probably a lot of viewers are watching right now and going, “How did you land on the mosquito business?” I mean, those aren’t the types of franchises you think of when somebody says. “You should buy a franchise.” Walk me through that.

Adrian Eaddy:
Well, we went through a battery of tests and we tried to find something that was low cost to start up, something that provided a great service to the community and also provided recurring revenue and it turns out that Mosquito Hunters hit all of those boxes.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah, it certainly and plus the huge need for it out there, right? What area is it infected or affected I should say with mosquitoes? I mean, you’ve touched on something that affects every human being. I don’t care. You can’t get away from it, right? It’s like selling water and everybody uses it and in your case, everybody needs the product to take care of the mosquito problem that they have in their homes and then of course on the recurring revenue situation, that is a hot button for so many, right? I mean, the concept of making money while you’re sleeping basically is very appealing, right?

Adrian Eaddy:
Absolutely.

Stephanie Eaddy:
Yeah. And that was a big part of what was attractive about this particular business model. Of course, we knew that franchise model was going to be the route that we wanted to take just given the amount of time that we could put into starting up a business and how much you get from participating and partnering with a franchise but what was also really interesting was how you could create a long-term relationship. You work really hard to get that first customer and then you’re really working to keep that customer on a long-term ongoing basis.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right.

Stephanie Eaddy:
And we actually use mosquito abatement services ourselves and we realized that there’s an opportunity for us to provide even better service than what we were getting and I think that was another reason why we thought we could do this and we could do it better.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure. Leslie, when Adrian and Stephanie come to you and say, “We want to open up a franchise,” and you’re just the person that can help us with that, did you go, “Oh, mosquitoes.”

Leslie Kuban:
Well, not at first. We start with a blank slate and we spent a lot of time just asking some key questions about what their drivers are for business ownership. What are you wanting to get out of this? What are your skills and talents? And from day one, you guys were very clear that you wanted to approach this as a couple so we had to think about where is there a place for both of you in this business versus just one of you? It really involves a whole lot of questions and building a profile and an evaluation matrix which serves as the compass for the what, what kind of business.

Leslie Kuban:
And we looked at several businesses that were really different from each other but I think what they kept coming back to is, “We want a business that has those factors that will allow us to do this while we keep our jobs on a semi-passive basis.” And so that eliminated certain options, not all businesses, not all franchises could successfully be started and grown in conjunction with corporate careers or another business. It was really creating the criteria list, always double checking the criteria list and then choosing the businesses that best check those boxes and in this case, it happened to be pest control.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s great, that’s fantastic. Let me ask you this, is the idea to grow this and then jump from the corporate job into running the business full-time or do you see this as a semi-passive income until you do choose to retire at 55?

Stephanie Eaddy:
Yeah. Jim, for us, there’s actually two routes that we could take. The first, which is one of us could leave our corporate jobs and pursue this full-time and grow the business into multiple franchises or we could continue to enjoy it, passively run it and reap the benefits until we’re at 55 and we’re ready to do something in more of a second career. We’re just so early in this process that it’s a little hard to tell right now but those were absolutely criterias and options that we wanted to explore when we identified this business.

Adrian Eaddy:
Yeah. And I would add onto that. I think another great driver for… And it’s something you mentioned earlier in the age of COVID it’s just having some diversity with our income so we wouldn’t lean too much on the uncertainty in corporate America.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah, that’s for sure. I know that a lot of Americans are going through that same thing to say, “Yeah, I made it through this round and hopefully this doesn’t worsen to the point that the company may have to make further cuts and am I going to be included in that? And what do I have to fall back on? I know Leslie’s been a very busy young lady helping people set up for that, to open up other types of revenue streams through franchise and I know that I’ve said this probably on every show with Stephanie, I’m a huge proponent of franchising, I think that it’s definitely the way anybody should look at opening up a business especially for the first time.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
I would say to my friends whenever they call because they know I’m into small businesses, what should I do? I want to open up an ice cream store or whatever or a mosquito company. I always tell them the same thing. First, go find out if there is a franchise out there in this field and if there is, look into getting that first because the franchise system takes out all of the what ifs and the if come maybes and the possible pitfalls and what have you that so many small business owners will get into without having that guidance and that support.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
I’m a huge fan of it. I think it’s definitely the way to go. Let me ask you this. It sounds like in choosing the mosquito business and the pest control industry, you must have had a very open canvas, a blank canvas to say, “Let’s go out there and see what might fit our needs.” But putting no real restrictions on anything and then coming to find that, wow, this particular franchise works well for us. Tell me what that process was and what did you learn about yourself in that process?

Stephanie Eaddy:
Yeah. For us, it really started with understanding what was out there and what was available. There was a very broad landscape as you mentioned and then sitting with Leslie and sitting with ourselves to talk about, what are our key skills and that we could bring to the table and how could those skills be most easily transferred into this business? The third one would be, is this something that I’m really energetic about, could see myself talking to friends and family about? Could I see myself as even a customer because for us, we really wanted to understand the business so we could put ourselves in the seat of the consumer. And then again, how did we feel about this support system that came with that franchise? Did we feel like there was a good cultural fit because a cultural fit with that company. This is at least a 10 year relationship with this company. We wanted to make sure that there was also a great cultural fit and we felt that at the Happinest company and in particular with Mosquito Hunter right away.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah. The company that stands behind the franchise, the franchisor in this case, Leslie, talk to us about that, the importance of partnering with the right franchisor. Because that might at some franchises out there that look good on the outside, they got a great logo and a great product, but the company that stands behind that and supports the franchisee sometimes can be not so good, right? And so talk to us about for prospective franchisees to find and land on the right franchisor to partner with.

Leslie Kuban:
And Jim, you’re touching on a really critical and important factor in all of this. There’s approaching 4,000 different franchise brands out there and hundreds of them are well-resourced organizations with the right talent who not only understand their business but also understand the business of franchising. And to succeed, you really have to be good at both but unfortunately there’s just as many organizations that they may be really good at their business but they’re getting into franchising without really understanding what that actually means. It’s very costly to be a strong franchisor and to create those systems and continue to refine the processes and systems that will support that franchise as you bring on more franchisees. I think what’s great about the case of Mosquito Hunters and I would love to find more and more opportunities like this where the parent organization behind it, Happinest brand has already been successful for a very long time with other service businesses and also in franchising.

Leslie Kuban:
I mean, they’re bringing up a fully loaded marketing department to the table, they’re bringing the technology aspect, the detailed operations know how. In this case, it’s very much the best of both worlds is you get a younger brand where you can grow with that brand and Adrian and Stephanie were really able to carve out a nice territory for themselves with the business and that’s because it is a brand that isn’t all over the place yet, but at the same time they’re getting the backing, the experience, the resources of a franchising company that really knows how to grow and support a service business. I mean, there’s never anything that is risk-free but this kind of situation can really help de-risk starting with a younger franchise brand so it’s very exciting to be able to enjoy both of those benefits.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right. And your availability to pick up other locations or other territories is a much more open than if you jump into another franchise that’s been around for 100 years and they say, “Sorry, we’re all sold out.” You might be able to buy one franchise, but that’s it, right?

Leslie Kuban:
The ability to grow and possibly the ability to grow with multiple brands. Happinest has ownership of several brands and they’re continuing to expand that all service the same customer base. Again, that can be a real plus for franchisees if they want to, if they’re interested is to be able to serve their same customers but with a different type of service but still under the same parent organization that’s working for them.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah. For sure. What advice would you both have for others? For others, specifically other couples that are looking to do what you just did. Make that first step and becoming self-employed so to speak while you’re also employed and keeping the security of that. But what advice would you have for other couples in this journey?

Adrian Eaddy:
Great question. My recommendation would be to first understand what it is that you like. Do you prefer being hands-on versus being more self independent? Do you prefer being a mentor and having leadership skills? Doing those sorts of self discovery will help you, point you in the right direction. I think the other thing I would definitely recommend is doing your due diligence. If you have a question that you’re not sure of, ask it. If you have doubts, address it. Those things will really, really help you in this discovery to find out what fits best for you.

Stephanie Eaddy:
And if I can build on to that, for us it’s about identifying our individual contributions to the business. Neither one of us are each other’s boss. We each have our own space carved out which I think will help too. At the end of the day, they still be able to enjoy a glass of wine and see each other across the table as partners in this process.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Adrian, who’s the boss? Come on, who’s the boss? She’s the boss. I’m married too so I get it. I work with my spouse and when everybody says, “Oh you guys you work with each other.” I go, “No, I work for her.” Just to be clear. Every married guy knows that, right?

Adrian Eaddy:
Absolutely.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right. If she’s happy, we’re happy, right?

Leslie Kuban:
If I may weigh in on this, I was in business with my father for almost 20 years before he retired which is not a couple’s relationship but it’s still… There’s a family dynamic there. And when we first got started, we learned very quickly. My father and I are very similar to each other. It’s very clear that my Apple fell from his tree.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Right.

Leslie Kuban:
And we had a lot of the same skillsets and enjoy doing the same things. And for a while there, we bumped heads with each other on who was really in charge of what and after some time we realized, we really need to divide and conquer here and we sat down and were clearly articulated. My roles and responsibilities, his roles and responsibilities and just trusted each other’s authority in those realms and things got a lot better a lot faster and we also hired some part-time virtual administrative help. That also really freed up a lot of our time. I mean, just very part-time work but it really made a huge difference in our ability to focus on those individual areas of responsibility and thrive in them.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
No question. I opened up a business after a couple of years of being open, my kids joined me from college. They came out of college and came into the business and I had no idea I was doing everything so wrong. They enlightened me. Dad, you’re doing this all wrong. I thought I was running a successful business. Buy you know what else is cool I think too? About working with a spouse is that each one has your back so you don’t have a hired employee that at any point in time as you know, especially with millennials that are out there that will jump ship pretty quickly to do something else or what have you, nothing against, I love millennials. But the reality is, is that it is a different workforce today and there’s nothing better than saying, “No, we’re in this together for the long haul.” It’s not a question of, “Well, I don’t like you as an employer anymore or as an employee and therefore we’re going to part ways.”

Jim Fitzpatrick:
You don’t part ways like this when you’re married to your partner, at least let’s hope not. And I think that that goes a long way when starting a business. Plus, as a couple you can get through things. The tough times is so much better because you can talk about them, use one another to bounce ideas off of and then also when business is so good, you’ve got somebody right there that you can celebrate the success with that understands all that you went through.

Adrian Eaddy:
Yeah, absolutely Jim. That’s a really great point. And a lot of what you just alluded to there was one of the main reasons that Stephanie and I wanted to team up. We wanted to have skin in the game. We felt that we both bring different talents and through that collaboration, we feel that building this business together and growing the business together was the best way forward for us. All of those points are very true for us.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah, no question about it. Well, Adrian and Stephanie Eaddy, franchise owners of Mosquito Hunters. That’s a brand as I said, you’re going to be learning a lot more about it because they’re making some big waves here and they come knocking on your door, at least one of their representatives. Now you’ve met the owners so congratulations to you. Leslie Kuban franchise industry expert and of course a constant here on the Atlanta Small Business Show. I want to thank you so much for all your contribution in 2020. Let’s do more in 2021. We get such great feedback and so many of our viewers enjoy you as a franchise expert and also the people that you bring in just like Eaddys so congratulations to all of you and thank you so much for joining me on the show.

Leslie Kuban:
Thanks for having us.

Adrian Eaddy:
Thank you.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Thanks.

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