Israel & Christina Alvarez
Co-owners, Insight Pest Management
"The advice we get about running a small business is invaluable, and that’s something we weren’t getting before."
Insight Pest Management
Newbury Park, Calif.
Israel & Christina Alvarez
“When you first start out in business, everyone wants to give you advice, and it turns out most people are working for their own benefit. When you go with PCO Bookkeepers, they’re looking out for your best interest. You’re getting untainted, unselfish advice about the pest management industry.” —Israel Alvarez
Family Biz Thrives with Industry-Specific Accounting Advice
Israel and Christina Alvarez founded their company, Insight Pest Management, in 2016 with a spark.
“We were rubbing sticks together, trying to start a fire with no customers but a dream,” Israel says. They moved their family from San Diego to Ventura County, Calif., and worked out of their house with some support from a friend who was an investor. “It really was a fun, family-run, sell-on Monday-service-on-Tuesday operation.”
Israel has worked in pest control for 20 years, first as a branch manager with Terminix. He joined Steritech in 2009 and worked there at the regional level until it was acquired by Rentokil in 2015. Christina’s background is in administration and human resources.
Together they have grown Insight Pest Management steadily, improving operations as they go, despite some surprises along the way.
“I knew that we could do it and that he had the talent and the knowledge,” says Christina. She adds, laughing, “I didn’t know we were going to have a second kid in our first year.”
To continue expanding, last year Insight Pest Management signed on as a client of PCO Bookkeepers, a firm that works with more than 300 pest control and lawn care companies across the U.S. to provide accounting, bookkeeping and CFO services; tax preparation and planning; and accounts payable management. PCO Bookkeepers also provides in-depth monthly benchmarking reports that compare clients to other firms in the industry.
Israel and Christina learned about the company from the National Pest Management Association’s Executive Leadership Program, where PCO Bookkeepers Managing Member Dan Gordon was a presenter when Israel participated in 2019.
“We were impressed by the fact that we could use someone for our accounting that had industry experience, knew what the market was like and could offer some input that other accountants couldn’t,” says Christina. “So when the need came up to look for another bookkeeper, we made the move.”
The market-specific knowledge PCO Bookkeepers offers is vital, Israel says, noting his pest control experience was with large corporations, not small businesses.
“While we’re in the same arena, we’re in different worlds,” he says, comparing his company to the big firms he worked for early in his career. “The advice we get about running a small business is invaluable, and that’s something we weren’t getting before.”
For example, the budgeting guidance PCO Bookkeepers gives makes a big difference, as does the perspective the firm offers on growth vs. profitability.
“I used to always talk 30 to 40 percent growth — whatever it took to get the massive jobs and grow,” Israel says. “Now, I look at the ‘rule of 23’ PCO Bookkeepers talks about to balance out profitability and investing back in the business.”
The rule of 23 is a guideline some pest control companies use as a key performance indicator. The model says your profit percentage plus your growth percentage must equal 23 or more. PCO Bookkeepers’ CFO and accounting clients receive this information on a dashboard.
Likewise, Christina is encouraged by the shift the business is making away from a revenue-at-all-costs mindset to a sustainable growth and profitability model.
“A big one is the recurring revenue and doing a breakeven analysis on all of my revenue lines,” Israel says. “(PCO Bookkeepers) helped with understanding what our price points needed to be and what the mix of business needed to be. We’re trying to grow our recurring revenue base as much as possible.”