Stories and articles for pest control businesses

06 September 2022

Meet the member: Success and challenges as a franchising business

YOUR ASSOCIATION | PPC108 September 2022

Sean Taylor talks about Pestforce, how the franchise business model works and the ups and downs of running a business.

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We've had quite a journey over the years, we’re proud to be part of the pest control industry, and we’re proud of the part that we play in bringing people into the sector. But let’s be clear – I’m not a pest controller; I’ve been in the facilities management world for over 20 years, and involved with franchising for most of that time.

Back then I always had an itch about the fact that I was number two to the boss, so I wanted to do something on my own. I had the opportunity to buy a franchise about 12 years ago in contract cleaning. It was my chance to buy in and run it my way.

It went really well, we bought a disenfranchised network where the franchisees weren’t really being looked after. We built it up and it went really well, and during that journey we asked, ‘what other services can we add to contract cleaning?’ and pest control came up. 

Ripe for improvement

Pestforce’s origins go back to Boston in Lincolnshire. Paul Wilkinson, a gamekeeper turned pest controller, was someone who worked his way from the bottom up, and he created Pestforce. He was an unconventional and charismatic businessman, who operated a a franchise model and sold a lot of franchises. He was looking to sell it because he realised it needed more investment, so we agreed to buy it.

Now that we’ve invested heavily, the business looks completely different. New uniforms, new livery, new technology, new ways to help the franchisees grow and develop. And a massive emphasis on giving them the support they need to achieve their goals.

What does success look like?

We have a growing network of 65 franchisees, from many different backgrounds, and it's important to understand that every franchisee wants to achieve something different. Success for you is different to success for another person, so as long as those individual successes are linked to what we’re trying to achieve as a franchise, then we encourage that. 

I don’t mind if ‘Joe’ only wants to do a small amount of income a year and ’Fred’ wants to put four vans on the road; it’s very much down to individuals. Before anyone joins our journey, we want to understand their thought process. We have something to offer people but we don’t try to sell them anything. You tell me why you’re making the decision to start your own business in the first place, then we’ll look at our business model and, if we think we can help each other, then off we go.

You can have the full spectrum of different working styles in a franchise, so someone may be in an area who just wants to work Monday to Friday, three or four jobs a day and that does them fine.Yet there’s other people that have got multiple vans on the road and are still interested in growing.

We’re beginning to see our franchisees employing more people and some of them never expected to be doing that. Sometimes, there’s an element when people will enter a franchise underestimating not just themselves but also what they can achieve with it.

Don’t get me wrong, running a business isn’t easy and we try to show people all the good, the bad and the ugly. We say: “Look, this is going to be a challenge. It’s probably the hardest job you’ll ever do. But these are the benefits that result from it.”

The nitty gritty

There are two sides to learning how to run a pest control franchise. You're learning all the technical pest control elements but, more importantly, you're learning how to run a business. And what tends to happen is that new franchisees focus on learning the pest control side and letting that become second nature, before really taking on the nitty gritty of the business and realising its potential. And that’s when things get really exciting for them.

On a personal level, something that I enjoy is working with franchisees to deliver fantastic results, and to me that’s what it’s all about. Yes, of course we do this to earn money but what gives us a real kick is watching people succeed and getting that positive feedback from them.

What is franchising?

Franchising is a way for someone to own and operate their own company, but under the brand and structure of a larger, established business.
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 ongoing management fees
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.

Let’s be honest, it doesn’t always go well. Pestforce has a great model to offer, but it’s a partnership and we’re very clear in the recruitment process that you are not buying a just a job.

While I absolutely encourage people to look into franchising as a pest control business option, it’s important to get the message across that franchising is a viable option for some – but not everybody. It’s crucial to be honest to yourself about what it is you want from a job and what your goals are.

People power

And after years in the franchising business, you realise it’s not all about growth and having as many franchises as possible. It’s about finding the right people for us, and that we’re the right people for those potential franchisees. It's very important that people buy into our values and culture.

We’ve also seen an increase in women joining the Pestforce brand at the employee level, which has been exciting, although I’d like to see more joining at a franchisee level. It would make us a richer, more diverse network, having those different worldviews and different experiences.

For me, I know this is an industry that’s open to everybody and is just absolutely fascinating, I just wish more people would consider it as a career.


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