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Critter Control

UTAH

For $30,000 Caleb Stroh purchased his Critter Control franchise, which today earns $175,000 in annual revenues.
Source: Critter Control
For $30,000 Caleb Stroh purchased his Critter Control franchise, which today earns $175,000 in annual revenues.
Description: Wildlife control company
Owner: Caleb Stroh
Years in business: 12
No. of franchises owned: 1
Start-up costs: $11,000 to $47,000, depending on population of territory; $75,000 cash
Franchisor fees: Royalties 7% of gross sales; marketing 1%
2015 revenue, 2016 projection: $175,000; $275,000
2016 projected annual growth rate: 57%

Caleb Stroh was working in a call center for a credit company when he graduated from Weaver State University in Utah. He had always been the outdoors type, with a love for fishing, hunting and camping. So the idea of a desk job didn't really appeal to him.

Then one day he saw an ad in a magazine for Critter Control, a national franchise that specializes in pest and wildlife animal control. "I liked the idea of having a job that let me be outdoors, and I liked the idea of owning my own company," Stroh said. At the time, it cost him about $30,000 to get started, which included the franchise fee, trapping tools and initial training.

Additional franchisee resources

Over the years, word-of-mouth recommendations from satisfied customers —about 70 percent are residential; the rest are commercial — have enabled Stroh to build his business to more than $175,000 in annual revenues.

Most of the critters he and his two employees capture are raccoons or squirrels that have gotten into attics or chimneys, he said, but occasionally a customer call involves something more exotic. A few years ago, neighbors alerted him to a vacant apartment that contained a 15-foot snake. "The owners left him there, so we had to go in and carefully wrangle him out," Stroh recalled. A friend of his happened to care for snakes, so this particular one found an instant home.

Support from Critter Control's corporate offices have also proved invaluable, he said. "We moved to a completely paperless system with a new software program, and the parent company was really good about getting feedback from franchisees about what was working and fixing what wasn't working," Stroh said.

He advises other would-be entrepreneurs to think carefully before becoming their own boss. "The decision to delve into a franchise is not without its risks," he said. "You may think you are running your own company — and to a large degree you are — but there is still a parent company that you are paying royalty fees to, and you need to be comfortable with that."

"The decision to delve into a franchise is not without its risks. You need to do a thorough examination of the parent company and its brand name to find the one that’s right for you." -Caleb Stroh

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