One Hamilton-based business has found success serving eviction notices to unwanted roommates of the four-legged and furry variety.
Started in 1989, Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control removes raccoons, squirrels, skunks, birds, bats, mice and other wildlife from residential and commercial properties while keeping the animals’ family units together. The company also animal-proofs buildings and gives their clients a life-time guarantee that the animals will not return. Skedaddle also offers wildlife decontamination and cleanup services.
Founder and CEO Bill Dowd started franchising Skedaddle about three years ago and now has 23 units spread throughout Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia.
Dowd said he is looking for people who want to be their own boss and who would like to start a home-based business.
“Your service vehicle is your office because we’re going to people’s homes,” he noted. “All of the products and material and everything needed to do the job properly is in that service vehicle.”
Dowd himself started the business from his childhood bedroom in his parents’ house and from there has grown the company to having over 50 service vehicles on the road.
One of the advantages of starting a Skedaddle franchise, Dowd explained, is the low startup costs. Franchisees do not require a commercial office space and the tools and materials used for the job are all quite common and low cost. Skedaddle can also help franchisees with vehicle financing to make it even easier to get started.
Plenty of Critters
Dowd is looking to expand nation-wide and welcomes potential franchisees from any part of Canada.
With wildlife having adapted easily to the city life, all those critters living among us means a steady supply of work for Skedaddle franchisees.
“There’s wildlife in every city across North America,” Dowd said. “Every year our call volumes and sales continue to grow. Typically, in a square kilometer, there can be anywhere from 25 to 50 raccoons, 25 to 50 skunks and hundreds of squirrels. These animals are sharing and thriving in our cities with us and they live in our attics, they live in our chimneys and a lot of the time, we’re providing their food sources because they’ll get into our garbage and eat it. The demand is always going to be there.”
As an example, Dowd points to his newest franchisee in Sudbury, ON. In less than six months in business, that franchisee already has enough sales to surpass his annual business expenses and he has already expanded his one-man operation to a two-man operation.
With the economic impact of wildlife damage to buildings being estimated in the billions of dollars per year, the CEO has no doubt many more franchisees will find themselves in the same boat as his Sudbury operation.
Skedaddle has a custom training center at its headquarters in Hamilton. The training center is an actual house so the company can teach new franchisees where animals would be located in an attic space and how to find them, plus how to walk and work properly in an attic and how to secure and screen vents on the roof and other common entry points.
Each franchisee goes to Hamilton for a week of initial field training. They also receive training and continuous support for marketing, accounting, admin work and sales. Everything about running a Skedaddle business is covered.
Sometimes, Dowd and his support managers even help franchisees in the field when they’re nowhere near them.
“In one case, one of our franchisees was having a difficult time solving a homeowner’s problem,” Dowd recalled. “The raccoon kept getting back in and the technician couldn’t figure out how it kept getting back in. He had secured everything, he thought. We used technology that allowed us to actually see him walking around the house and showing us what he was seeing in our boardroom. Myself and my support managers were all gathered around the board table and watching. And, having 27 years of experience, we could tell right away that there was a piece of flashing that when the raccoon went in, it would close. To someone with less experience, it looked like it was fine, but upon close inspection, every time the raccoon pushed it, it would open up, it would get into the attic and then the flashing would fall back in place.”
Flexibility & Profits
Aside from low startup costs, Dowd said, Skedaddle offers flexible work weeks. A franchisee can base their business hours around regular daytime business hours, or work in the evenings if they prefer or even work on the weekends if they want.
And some of the removal and exclusion work the company provides can have hefty profit margins. For example, the founder said, when doing a mouse or bat exclusion, it can be in the thousands of dollars because they can get into an opening the size of a dime, which means having to seal up every possible entry point that is any larger than that.
Running a Skedaddle also requires minimal inventory, with just some basic tools, 16 gauge wire screening and Skedaddle’s own branded exclusion sealant being the main inventory required.
For anyone looking to get into a home-based business with low startup costs and high flexibility and profits, Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control is the place to call.