Franchising Today - Summer 2016 - 66
Approximately 80 percent of the franchisees'
business is residential, with the rest in
commercial, industrial and municipal.
Critter Control has developed a "Certified Wildlife Specialists" certification that approximately 300 of the
company's 500 employees possess.
The program provides initial training,
ongoing support, annual meetings,
conventions, recurring training, marketing support through social media
and Yellow Pages advertising and
discounts on supplies based on combined purchasing power.
For its franchisees, Critter Control seeks out "motivated and highly
focused people," Clark emphasizes.
"They have to be well-informed and
articulate individuals that are dedicated to providing a world-class service."
The company visits personally with
each potential franchisee. "They may
ride in the truck with a local franchisee in their area or fly into a regional
office to see how the business is run,"
Clark says. Critter Control's training
centers are located at headquarters in
Traverse City, Mich., and in Fort Lauderdale, Dallas and Atlanta.
Critter Control analyzes potential
franchisees' marketplaces for popu66
lation density and per capita income.
Based on the region of the country,
Clark can provide information on the
wildlife they may deal with and the
seasonality of the business - summer
in the North and winter in the South.
"In the summer in the Deep South,
it is hot and the animals are not as active," Clark points out. The types of
animals a potential franchisee would
have to deal with vary by region, too -
alligators and scorpions in the South,
wild boars and snakes in Arizona and
raccoons and squirrels in the Northeast. "Based on our experience, we
can typically provide guidelines for
potential revenue in a given area,"
The density of franchisees varies
by population. Critter Control uses
eight different market sizes varying
by 300,000 people each to determine
the size of its franchise fee. Some
franchisees have several franchises,
some in the same market.
Clark got the critter control bug when
he was working as a chimney sweep. In
the course of making a clean sweep, he
would occasionally come across animals that were occupying chimneys.
When he discovered that pest control
companies would not remove them,
he developed his own animal removal
techniques and asked the pest control
companies for referrals of customers
with animal control problems. Eventually, he was doing more critter control than chimney sweeping.
The critter control business ties
in with Clark's experience growing
up on a farm in Michigan and spending summers in northern Minnesota
around bear, moose and wolves. His
great-grandparents had homesteaded around International Falls, Minn.,
about 100 years before, and his family would visit other family members
there over those summers.
"We spent our time ranging around
creeks and rivers, fishing and trapping animals," Clark recalls. "I guess
you could say I was self-educated. I
grew up spending time outdoors and
probably had more hands-on wildlife
experience than a lot of people."
For the future, Clark foresees
achieving deeper market penetration
around existing offices and expanding
with new franchisees. "We are in 90
percent of the top 100 metro areas in
the country," he notes. "So that means
we're limited in the places we can go.
We typically have a dozen franchises
available. There are currently existing
Ironically, places like Alaska or
Montana that have an abundance of
wildlife are not always the best locations for a Critter Control franchise.
"Those are places where people still
have the skills for hunting and trapping and can take care of their own
problems," Clark declares. "There's
just not enough people to support our
activities on a large scale in Alaska."