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."