University of Georgia alumni and siblings Brian Lunsford (AB ’02) and Brandon Lunsford (AB ’02) both graduated with Political Science degrees and now own and run Inspect-All Services, the company with the most years on the Bulldog 100 list. Inspect-All Services provides high-quality termite, pest and wildlife control, as well as home inspection services for real estate transactions, and other home services. They offer their services in metro Atlanta and the surrounding region, as well as in the Jacksonville, FL area. Learn how the Lunsford brothers grew their company by a mind-boggling 4,000% in just over a decade and how Inspect-All Services continues to be one of the 100 fastest-growing businesses owned or operated by UGA alumni each year.
First, tell us a little bit about your UGA experience, what did you love about it?
Brian: I have so many wonderful memories at UGA. From the fun college town of Athens itself, to the friendships, the football, Larry Munson, tailgating, downtown, Guthrie’s, my classes, The Red & Black—just to name a few! The summer of 2001 when I studied at Oxford University in England with my fellow UGA students still stands as one of my favorite periods of time in college. I gained perspective on life that only an experience like that affords. I’ll always be grateful for my time at the University of Georgia!
Brandon: My time at UGA and in Athens was unforgettable. I’ll always cherish the memories including UGA football games, north campus, downtown nights, intramural sports, cramming for exams, concerts and hanging out with what would become lifelong friends. My biggest regret is that I did it all in just four years instead of taking longer!
How did you get started with Inspect-All Services?
Brandon: After graduating college, I decided to join our dad’s small pest control company part-time prior to jumping into a “real career”. It started off as a way for me to take life easy for a bit, work a little, but mainly it gave me the flexibility to take time off to travel. Once I was exposed to the business aspect of the industry, I began to take it more seriously and eventually realized I could possibly make a great career out of it. Brian soon joined me full-time and we began the process of taking the reins and growing the business.
Brian: Before becoming an entrepreneur and while still attending UGA, I was a sports producer at FOX-5/WAGA-TV in Atlanta. While television was fun, I decided to shift my career into the exciting world of business. When Brandon and I acquired the company from our dad, we were the only two employees and wore a lot of hats. We were our company’s techs, salesmen and office staff (answering forwarded phone calls from customers on a cell phone in the truck). Good times! We started to realize that showing up on time, treating people right and providing outstanding service, led to more business. That part was simple for us because our mom and dad instilled those values in us as children. Before we knew it, it was time to hire our first of many employees as business owners. Doing things the “right way” made it easy for customers to trust us and want to continue to do business with our company. Those early lessons learned in life and in business laid the foundation for our success and still has an important influence on our company to this day. We now have around 100 dedicated team members who show up on time, treat folks with respect and provide excellent services to our loyal customers.
What steps did you take early on to begin the explosive growth?
Brian: When Brandon and I were able to leave the field and get in front of our computers, the growth really took off. Our first major change was bringing technology to the company. We created a website and made sure we were on reputable consumer sites such as Angie’s List, Yelp and Groupon. We understood the importance of taking risks, especially early on as business owners. For example, we aggressively implemented a “loss leader” approach by running discounted offers for our services on deal sites, then providing those customers with such a high level of service that they would decide to use our company long-term. We were one of the first pest control companies to send emails to customers the day before service containing a photo of the technician scheduled to arrive. While our competitors were putting lots of energy into face-to-face meetings with other business owners, setting up company booths at local festivals and mailing out flyers, we opted for a more far-reaching strategy by making our online profile paramount. We built that online presence by ensuring that our reputation was impeccable.
Brandon: We saw an opportunity and pounced on it, mainly by focusing on things that other companies in our industry were not doing at the time. Many pest control and home inspection companies are pretty cookie-cutter, and we were naïve to all of that—which ultimately benefitted us because we used a new common-sense approach rather than traditional thinking. We asked questions like, “Why are they doing it like this?” “Doesn’t this other way make more sense?” We were fresh right out of college with an analytical mindset, and we were determined to find better ways to run our business. I would say most of the technological advancements and digital marketing we did in the early years were self-taught, and in turn gave us a huge advantage over our competitors. We were at UGA in the late 1990s to early 2000s so we got really familiar with computers through our work in college. That technological knowledge gave us an advantage since most of our competitors were run by folks who were a generation older than us and who wouldn’t have had the exposure to computers and technology we had at UGA. We also believe being graduates of UGA gave us credibility to others and validated that we were going to run a legitimate business and provide a great value to our customers.
Inspect-All Services has been on the Bulldog 100 list every year since 2011, what do you attribute to your continued success?
Brian: Creating and then sustaining a climate of honesty met with highly efficient communication–both with our customers and internally with our team–has been very important to our success. Also, implementing innovative ways to do things has reaped huge benefits for our customers and our team. Technology’s role within our company is to create convenience and peace of mind for our customers, while at the same time making our team members’ jobs easier. For instance, using infrared cameras to expose hidden pest issues behind walls, deploying drones to survey roofs during home inspections and emailing digital proposals and reminders to our customers. In the end, it’s a win for both our customers and our team.
Brandon: Hard work and dedication for sure, but most importantly, our unwavering desire to provide our customers with outstanding service and value. We haven’t tried to conquer the world in one swoop and have always taken good care of each and every customer. We’ve grown very quickly without any acquisitions or mergers by building our business one customer at a time.
What has been the most surprising thing about owning your own company?
Brian: We are constantly amazed by the high volume of positive customer feedback our team receives. According to our Angie’s List rep, we have more positive customer reviews than any other pest control and home inspection company on Angie’s List in the United States. Across all platforms, we currently have thousands of A+ verified online customer reviews, which speaks to our company’s core value of integrity. This continuous cycle of outstanding customer care met by glowing customer reviews, creates a wonderfully dynamic feedback loop that ties directly to our growth rate. Prospective customers read these reviews and often attribute the positive customer feedback from their peers as the primary reason they decided to hire our company.
Brandon: I think owning our own company has been more gratifying than we thought since we have the ability to provide so many jobs and a good quality of life for our employees. We have close to 100 employees now, and are largely responsible for them owning cars and buying homes. Being a part of that is surprising, and we are grateful to help them achieve their dreams. We have grown 4,000% in about a 10-year span and averaged around 40% growth per year.
What has been the most challenging thing about owning your own company?
Brian: One of our biggest challenges in the early years was the hiring process. Learning better ways to acquire and then properly vet candidates has been key to our company landing talented professionals. Our management team has created an outstanding environment for new hires to flourish. Therefore, we are fortunate to not have too much turnover. Once folks are here, they typically do not want to leave. We take pride in the fact that along with the growth, comes the opportunity to enrich the lives of our team and give back to our communities through volunteer work and charity. Over the years, we have been fortunate to run a fast-growing company, and our people are the key to that success.
Brandon: I think keeping up with the growth has been the most challenging. We have the difficult job of maintaining a balance between a healthy company and a fast-paced company. Sometimes you can outgrow yourself, and if you don’t have the systems in place to handle the growth, it can be difficult.
Do you have any advice for future Bulldog entrepreneurs?
Brian: Adhere to your core values in everything that you do and make sure your team maintains that standard as well.
Brandon: Think different to grow quickly. Status quo is not the road to take if you want to stand apart from your competition.