Feature articles

12 November 2019

We build it...you drive it?

Business feature| PPC97 November 2019

Starting your own pest management business is - pardon the pun - a scary business.

But there are ways of starting a business with the assurance of a more extensive support system to help.

In this article, BPCA Communications Officer, Kat Shaw explores the franchising business model. 

franchising article bpca pest management

If you’re still on Facebook or Instagram, you’ve almost certainly got a friend who’s a franchisee on your timeline touting health products, discounted makeup, and even CBD oil infused energy drinks.

But some of the most successful businesses in the UK like McDonald’s, Driver Hire, Mac Tools and Costa Coffee also work off a franchising model.

Maybe you’re thinking about buying a pest management franchise. Maybe you’re considering franchising your own brand.

Perhaps you’re just curious about how franchising a pest business works or you’re sceptical of the entire business model.

Either way, it’s an interesting business structure, so we thought it deserved investigation.

In essence, franchising is a way for someone to own and operate their own company but under the brand and structure of a larger, established business.

How does that work?

  • A licence is granted by the owner of the brand – known as the franchisor – to the franchisee
  • The franchisor is given an initial fee by the franchisee and receives management fees going forward (typically, these fees are based on a percentage of annual turnover or mark-ups on supplies)
  • The management fees enable the franchisor to support the franchise network with things like training, product development, marketing and advertising
  • The day-to-day operation of the business is left to the franchisee
  • The franchisor decides how products or services are marketed and sold.

You can buy a franchise whether you’re starting from scratch or already own a business that is struggling to turn a profit and needs a little support.

Franchising is not for everybody, but it is a great formula, and it’s just one of the numerous routes to get into pest control.

How successful are franchises?

There are strong statistics to support the case that franchising is a stable model for business start-ups.

According to the British Franchise Association’s (bfa) most recent survey, 90% of franchisees report long-term profitability.

Interestingly, less than 5% of franchise-owned businesses close due to commercial failure.

Compare that with a failure rate of more than 50% for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) outside of the franchising model, and you can see how these businesses grow.

A spokesperson for the bfa told us; “the franchising industry has never been in a healthier state. The 2018 bfa NatWest Franchise Survey shows significant growth in employment and economic contribution to the UK.

“Not only this, but the industry has grown to over 900 systems in wide-ranging sectors such as health and beauty, personal services and seasonal services. This enables people with varying needs, backgrounds and motives to find a franchise that is suitable for them.

“A great example would be the rise in franchise systems that can be run from home, allowing people to work around their family commitments.”

On the whole, buying a franchise is generally easier and less expensive than starting your own business. The effort and financial backing you would put into getting an independent business off the ground is all accelerated with a franchise.

There are several successful pest management franchises currently operating in the UK, such as BPCA members Prokill and Pestforce UK Ltd.

PestForce: A franchising case study

franchising article bpca pest management 2

Started in 1991 by a gamekeeper, who turned his hobby and passion of pest control into a business, Pestforce was taken over by the current owners in 2014.

Ever since then the business has been growing at a steady rate.

Pestforce is now a thriving franchise model with 49 (soon to be 50) franchisees across the UK including Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

While the head office is in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, there are 50+ locally based technicians across the country.

Sean Taylor, Phil Shaw and Gayle Baker talked through the Pestforce model and how it operates.

“When we bought the Pestforce brand we already ran a franchise, so we were able to take over and bring our experience,” says Pestforce Owner and Managing Director, Sean.

“Pestforce has been around a long time and has certainly been through a journey.

“We bought a disenfranchised network, with very little infrastructure or support for franchisees. There have been some real tough decisions to make in order to protect the brand and everyone else’s investment.

“We’ve been through plenty of highs and lows since the change of ownership - there’s been a lot of work that’s taken place to enhance the business and grow the reputation of the brand.”

Franchise Recruitment Manager, Gayle, tells us that Pestforce attracts a variety of people.

“Some join us who have no experience of pest control, who may be disillusioned with their current employment or may have been made redundant,” says Gayle.

There’s also a draw for those who have an interest in hunting, shooting or fishing and want to turn their hobby into a business.

And there are those who already work within the industry but are looking to branch out on their own or expand their business.

“People typically want to join because they are looking to grow their business,” Gayle explains. “They get completely involved in their day-to-day job, but they aren’t working ON their business, expanding to employ people or just to get to that threshold where they’re able to earn more money.”

She continued, “Buying a franchise can be a scary decision. A big part of our process is to help potential franchisees understand what franchising is, and what the relationship between a franchisor and a franchisee looks like.”

Sean says that it’s standard to vet people but more importantly, for potential franchisees to vet Pestforce.

Some join us who have no experience of pest control, who may be disillusioned with their current employment or may have been made redundant

Gayle Baker

There are nine steps that people must go through so that by the time the process is finished, everyone is confident that they’re making the right decision for them.

“The franchisor and franchisee must understand each other. It’s a crucial relationship,” he says.

Phil Shaw is Pestforce Technical Director and, like the BPCA technical team, he’s there to give support and advice to pest technicians.

“I provide 24/7 technical support to our franchisees, but we also introduce newcomers to neighbouring franchisees.

“By buddying up in this way, they can see what it’s like at the coalface and support each other. And 100%, this is something that attracts people to a franchise.

“Yes, they want the ready-made business. They want the accounting structure in place. They see that there’s a website in place and marketing experience that they don’t have.

“But to run a successful company, you need expert guidance and encouragement, too. A franchise provides all of that.”

Everybody joining the Pestforce brand goes through the company training programme, even if they’re already qualified.

And alongside the technical training, there’s business training, which prepares people coming into the franchise for the administrative side of running their own company.

“We provide the framework for them to employ people, give them HR handbooks, contract templates,” explains Gayle. “We want to make sure anyone employed by our franchisees understands our values and represents the brand positively.

“We make sure that people know how much work is involved in running your business, and people who have the right attitude and work ethic come through. If someone wants to really succeed, to learn, to be challenged in the right way, franchising is the right way to go.”

Sean believes that a good work-life balance is something that is earned.

“You don’t just come in, start your own business and then go play golf every day,” he says.

“We build the car; they drive it. But they still have to drive it in the right direction, so at the end of the day, your destiny is in your own hands.”

Want support starting a pest management company?

BPCA has a specialist Probationary Scheme and training courses available for those looking to start their own pest business.

bpca.org.uk/membership

Source: PPC97

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