June 24, 2019 | 72° F

Rutgers alumnus launches mosquito prevention franchise in New Jersey

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Tim Sorrentino, a graduate student at Rutgers University — Newark launched the first branch of the Mosquito Joe corporation. Sorrentino is enrolled in the master's program for Supply Chain Management.

A current graduate student in the Rutgers Business School in Newark, Timothy Sorrentino, and his wife, Kristen, launched their first franchise of the national Mosquito Joe corporation yesterday.

Mosquito Joe, a national corporation based in Virginia Beach, Virginia, provides mosquito and other bug control solutions for residential and commercial properties in 28 states, according to the company website.

The focus of Sorrentino’s franchise will be in South Jersey, servicing Washington Township, Sicklerville, Gloucester Township, Pitman, Deptford, West Deptford and Wenonah.

“It has been a rollercoaster,” Sorrentino said of kickstarting the franchise.

Sorrentino, who is enrolled in the master’s program for supply chain management, said that he previously attended Villanova University before coming to the Business School at Rutgers—Newark.

“Someone I met (at Villanova) who was also in the army with me, was looking into investing and opening a franchise for Mosquito Joe,” he said.

Interested, Sorrentino contacted the company and began the vetting process to open his own franchise in New Jersey.

“So my wife and I decided to take the plunge and give this a shot," he said. 

As part of the process, Sorrentino and his wife attended a week of training at the company headquarters in Virginia Beach, which included the financial aspect of running a small business, as well as learning about the technical services of spraying for mosquitoes, ticks and fleas, Sorrentino said.

“I also started setting my targets in place for a customer base, obtaining all the equipment—the truck, the sprayers, getting a good financial plan and a good marketing plan,” he said. 

He started implementing the marketing plan about six weeks ago in anticipation of opening day, he said.

Sorrentino’s franchise will be one of five franchises in New Jersey, according to the company website. Franchises are sold by territory, he explained, and each territory encompasses about 32 to 36 thousand single-family homes.

“The thing that’s unique about Mosquito Joe is that the franchises are locally operated, so they’re a big part of their communities," said Julie Green, the marketing manager for the national corporation.

Green explained that at the corporate office, the marketing team acts as a support system for the individual franchises, who have a lot of autonomy in their marketing and financial decisions.

The corporate marketing team focuses on giving franchisees the tools that they need, as well as marketing ideas and the national brand, she said.

“We love (the franchises) to be active in their communities, and our service is to solve the mosquito control problem in the community. It requires a lot of grassroots marketing,” Green said.

Following the Zika outbreaks of last summer, she said, the company experienced a spike in demand for mosquito control services.

“We had a very busy summer last year,” Green said. “When things like Zika are making the headlines every day, consumers are definitely becoming more aware that mosquitos are more than just a nuisance, and that they definitely cause some serious health concerns.”

Sorrentino echoed this sentiment but emphasized that this scare tactic is not part of their marketing strategy. 

“It’s more about how people want to go out and enjoy the outside without having to worry about putting on bug repellent, or burning incense,” he said.

Sorrentino also noted that no mosquitoes appear to carry the virus in New Jersey.

“I think all the Zika cases (in New Jersey) have come from people traveling outside the country,” he said.

Mosquito Joe’s products are very safe, Sorrentino said. The goal is to make people not afraid of going outside.

Sorrentino also noted how useful his courses at the Business School have been in his business venture.

“I’ve been able to use specific things from my courses directly into my full-time job, because I still work full-time, and I also use a lot of the same principles running my Mosquito Joe franchise,” he said.

Looking to the future, Sorrentino is optimistic and invested in this business for the long run, he said. 

“I bought three territories in South Jersey, and there’s still a few remaining, and I hope to buy all of them,” Sorrentino said. “Being a family-run business, my wife and I are hoping to get off to a good start this year.”

Christina Gaudino

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