Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control
Dowd shares what the brand has done well to become North America’s largest wildlife control company.
Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control, a 31-unit international franchise focused on structure-proofing and the compassionate removal of animals, has grown into a hugely successful brand. Now the largest wildlife control company in North America, Skedaddle had humble beginnings in 1989, when founder Bill Dowd began the business out of his home with one truck.
Bill has strategically grown the business to have several territories in Canada and a growing presence in the United States over the last 33 years. And since Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control began franchising in 2013, that growth has only continued to speed up.
Dowd spoke with 1851 Franchise to share the brand’s mission, successes and how it continues to excel in the pest control segment.
1851 Franchise: Tell us about the history and founding of the brand.
Bill Dowd: I started this business with one truck and a pager on my hip from my childhood bedroom. After playing professional hockey, I saw an opportunity in the high-demand wildlife control industry for a company to do things better and refocus on removal rather than trapping. I wanted to use innovative practices that completely seal and protect weak and vulnerable areas of customers' largest asset, their homes. The concept was very popular; whenever the company expanded, it experienced double-digit growth year after year. It's given me a great lifestyle over the 30 years, and I enjoy seeing people be successful. I want to make every single one of our franchisees successful and to follow our system, and realize that the sky's the limit being a Skedaddle franchise owner.
1851: What makes Skedaddle Wildlife Removal unique within its industry?
Dowd: When most people have a wildlife problem, they think someone needs to come out, set a live trap and take it out to the country because they believe this animal shouldn't be in the city. Most of our competitors are one-man operations just out there with a van setting traps, and that's the farthest from what our methods and procedures are. When the SPCA or humane society or Animal Control comes out and traps an animal and takes it away, that leaves babies to die in the attic. They're still nursing; they need that mother to feed them. So we have partnered and educated the humane societies and SPCA that there's a better way to do hands-on removal and get all the animals out. But more importantly, animal proofing the structure makes the most of our revenue. We'd rather be known as a wildlife prevention company. We want to secure your home, so the animals don't get back in. We give you that lifetime guarantee that if they get back in, we come and get them out for free. So we offer a unique and different perspective on how to do urban wildlife control.
1851: What kind of support does Skedaddle offer franchisees?
Dowd: We've been gearing up for franchising for five or six years now. Our staff has a wealth of knowledge and is always there to bounce ideas off of. I learned very soon when I opened the business that I can't do everything and need good people around me. With future franchisees, it’s the same thing; we will be there to help them with the system and hire sales staff, technicians and marketing teams. We help them get good employees and treat them properly, so they stay and make good revenue for the franchise owners. We also offer incredible marketing support and often joke we are a marketing company that just happens to catch raccoons. We've invested a lot of time, money and energy into our website. We use keywords that help get our franchise locations at the top of Google when people search. It’s very promising that we're being recognized as an authority in urban wildlife control.
1851: Why is Skedaddle a strong investment for franchisees?
Dowd: This is a very scalable business. The fact that we've grown and are now the largest wildlife control company in North America is quite impressive. In every single city we have gone into, we have been successful. And as we continue to grow, we are now extremely confident that we will be an industry disruptor in any market we open in. We're going to be the best in that city, and the competition is 30 years behind us in terms of our expertise.
1851: What does the ideal Skedaddle franchisee look like?
Dowd: Our ideal franchisee is someone who wants a scalable business. We want an empire builder who will come in and launch with five or 10 service trucks. They don't need to know anything about wildlife control, climb roofs or crawl into attic spaces. Anybody we hire, we've trained comprehensively. We've spent over 30 years training staff, so we've got that down and have training programs for franchisees. If you have a sales background, a wildlife background or a love for animals, that's a big plus. But mainly, if you want to make money, have a fun and exciting business and have a better work/life balance, owning a Skedaddle franchise is an excellent avenue for you to do so.
1851: What kind of growth plans do you have for Skedaddle?
Dowd: I'm a very competitive guy, being a former athlete. I want Skedaddle to have locations across the U.S. Every single city and suburb in the U.S. needs Skedaddle. We aim to have hundreds of locations across the U.S., in larger metropolitan areas and cities like Chicago, Atlanta and Denver. We want to recreate our success launching in Toronto four years ago, where the franchisee now has almost 20 service trucks and over $3 million in sales. We've proven that going into a large metropolitan area is definitely scalable.