V.P., Smithereen Pest Management Services
“If don’t have that hands-on partnership, they’re missing out on information that will help them down the road”
Smithereen Pest Management Services
PRESIDENT / CEO
100 + Employees
“By jumping on board with Dan Gordon and the guys at PCO Bookkeepers, we had access to people who knew accounting rules, put things in the right place and were able to get us information promptly, so we could use it as a tool to measure our performance better.”
A Better Management Tool
Smithereen Pest Management Services has a storied past in the pest control industry. The company’s history spans two centuries and four generations of Jennings family owners.
Today, the firm, which is 70-80 percent commercial, serves clients in multiple states from its headquarters near Chicago with annual revenue around $12 million.
Until a decade ago, Smithereen handled accounting in house and used outside tax preparation professionals.
“It was archaic,” says Vice President Andy McCormack of the company’s former accounting process. He’s worked for the company for 40 years. “We were just doing it the way we’d always done it, and we didn’t use it as a management tool as much as we should have.”
McCormack met Dan Gordon, managing member of PCO Bookkeepers, as a member of the U Group, a peer group of noncompeting pest management firms.
“He had some buy-in with other people in the group, so I felt comfortable being able to jump on board,” Andy McCormack says of become a PCO Bookkeepers client. “It’s been an important tool over the last nine or 10 years. But it took a while to fix things up.”
PCO Bookkeepers works with more than 300 pest control companies across the U.S. to provide accounting, bookkeeping and CFO services; tax preparation and planning; and accounts payable management. PCO Bookkeepers clients also receive in-depth monthly benchmarking reports that compare them to other firms in pest control industry.
Setting up QuickBooks, getting the balance sheet in order and switching from cash to accrual accounting were priorities for McCormack when Smithereen first made the switch to PCO Bookkeepers. So was getting monthly financial statements in a timely manner.
“That was a big step – not to just look at what was in the bank, but to see what services we’ve done but not been paid for yet,” he says. “It comes back to having numbers you can judge people on and manage with.”
At Smithereen, gross profit is one of those numbers. “We didn’t have that (metric) before,” McCormack says. “We didn’t know whether we were doing well and we weren’t confident in our numbers. Now that we’ve lived with them for 10 years, we’re confident with what we do and can see incremental changes.”
A decade into their partnership, McCormack meets with PCO Bookkeepers staff weekly for a check-in. “Sometimes it’s 30 to 45 minutes, sometimes it’s five minutes,” he says. “They’re available, and they address my concerns whenever I have them.”
For other pest control companies looking to get a handle on their financials and key performance indicators (KPIs), McCormack recommends they consider working with PCO Bookkeepers – especially if they could use an adviser with deep industry experience.
“Dan knows the industry,” he says. “He knows benchmarks, KPIs and what the general industry is doing. If you don’t have that (access), you’re missing out.”
McCormack sees the problem caused by a lack of industry knowledge and good data first-hand in his role overseeing Smithereen’s acquisitions of smaller pest control companies.
“If they don’t have that hands-on partnership, they’re missing out on information that will help them down the road,” he says.