By Peter Saunders
Bill Dowd (pictured), founder and president of Skedaddle, had decades of experience in humane urban wildlife control before he decided to develop a proprietary brand and begin franchising the concept. Today, his actively marketed franchise system stands out from the crowd, particularly with its distinctive, eye-catching, graphic-wrapped vehicles.
“We were hearing from contacts in the industry who wanted to join us,” he explains, “as well as customers asking for service closer to them. We worked with That Franchise Group in Mississauga, Ont., to recruit franchisees and grow the brand.”
From Dowd’s central administration office in Hamilton, the business has expanded across Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe, reaching Sudbury, Kitchener, Waterloo, Mississauga, Toronto, Kingston and Ottawa, and even as far as Montreal and Halifax. Each territory serves a population of at least 250,000.
“All of our locations are in cities because they’re overrun with urban wildlife,” says Dowd. “Only rarely would our services be needed for rural areas and farming communities.”
Indeed, the focus is on animal-proofing customers’ homes. With no need for franchisees to lease real estate, everything needed for the job is stocked inside each Skedaddle service vehicle, including tools, screening to keep animals out and branded sealants to close up crevices.
“Animals aren’t the problem, houses are,” says Dowd. “We’re all about proofing decks, sheds, garages, attics and chimneys.”
The humane nature of the business, especially, appeals to today’s enthusiastic, driven entrepreneurs who are looking for a ‘green’ business.
“We hire for attitude and then train for skill,” Dowd says. “A Skedaddle franchisee gets to be a local hero, preventing animals from destroying people’s biggest investments.”
The franchisor’s aim now is to get coast-to-coast and, once the necessary legal documentation is in place, enter the U.S. market too.
“This industry is typically fragmented, with many small mom-and-pop operations,” says Dowd. “No one else has our magnitude of staff, our years of experience and our confidence.”