Pest control has to be the only bomb proof marketplace!

With bug numbers increasing exponentially and Health & Safety directives driving business, Prokill Managing Director Geoff Whittle profiles his franchise's exciting opportunity

Gordon Patterson: When was Prokill established?
Geoff Whittle (pictured right): The original Prokill core company was established over five years ago and has virtually doubled in size year-on-year from a standing start to in excess of £1 million turnover, with gross profits of over 90 per cent and retained net profits of 25 per cent.

Gary Rigby: What are Prokill's distinctive features?
GW: Prokill has really tested itself and continues to regard cleanliness, efficiency, delivery, support and cost effectiveness as the baseline of every activity we undertake. We have deliberately avoided the 'man and van' scenario favoured by so many franchises, opting for a much more management style approach where a franchisee will be awarded a significant territory that enables him to replicate the core business and build a tangible asset for himself. The size of territory dictates that we will only award a maximum of 100 franchises nationwide, so we need to know that the individuals we appoint are ambitious, competent managers and committed to running a team, rather than doing everything themselves.

GP: How is the pest control market performing?
GW: Pest control has to be the only 'bomb proof' marketplace I know of - bugs are not going away and in fact are increasing in number exponentially as a result of many factors, not least of which is climate change! It's a fantastic market to be involved in, it's not affected by the vagaries of the economy and by lack of disposable income, as ever more stringent Health & Safety legislation dictates that you cannot ignore pests and can frequently have your health and livelihood severely compromised by your premises being closed down if you can't show due diligence in dealing with infestations.

GR: What are Prokill's credibility factors?
GW: Prokill has spent significant sums and invested huge amount of time and resources to establish a reputation as the most accredited and recognised company in pest control. Potential customers are reassured that any one of the host of national independently audited accreditations is in place before they will consider dealing with any company. Prokill is proud to maintain ISO9001, SafeContractor, Exor, Link-Up, Chas to name a few, that enable us to walk through doors denied to others.

We're also practically the only pest control company independently accredited as an examination centre by the Royal Society for the Promotion of Health (RSPH). In fact, Prokill London Southwest franchisee Eden Percy has achieved the highest pass mark in the whole of the UK across all examination centres of the RSPH. An award will be presented to him at the forthcoming AGM. In addition a 100 per cent pass rate was achieved with all its candidates in these exams, through Prokill's own comprehensive six week training course.

GR: How has Prokill's franchise network developed?
GW: We only anticipated and budgeted for one franchisee in our first year but actually appointed three as a result of the calibre of applicants. We followed with five in the second year and have now entered our third year of franchising with nine franchisees trading.

GP:How is Prokill positioned against other players in the Pest Control sector?
GW: We're certainly vastly more professional and experienced than the majority of one man bands who can't offer the breadth of service that we do. We're committed to being a local resource for customers (unlike some huge household names who seem set on retrenching and centralising) and act as a welcome and efficient solution to problems that can be quite invasive and distressing for individuals. We wish to become a household name ourselves within the next few years but on the back of outstanding service and professional support revolving around a comprehensive solution to everyone's pest problems.

GR:Has the business system evolved in any significant way in recent years?
GW: Our ability to identify, cross reference, track and account for every single job or contract in real time has been a huge bonus to our efficiency, resulting in an increasing contract portfolio that represents about 50 per cent of all business, which then carries through to the following year... every year.

GP: What kind of earnings opportunity is it realistic to achieve as a Prokill Franchisee?
GW: The true benefit of becoming a Prokill franchisee starts to dawn on our team in the second year when the contract portfolio from the previous year is renewed and effectively gives that franchisee a huge boost and guaranteed income for that year. This results in turnover and profits virtually doubling every year. Even in the first year, before the appointment of staff (we recommend appointing two staff by end of year one) our franchisees are selling up to £13,000 of business per month. I think it's fair to say that we don't have a single franchisee who, having investigated several alternatives, isn't really pleased that they came on board with Prokill.

GP: What is the next five year goal plan for the development for Prokill in the UK?
GW: Given the current recruitment statistics we have we're well ahead of the national norm published by the British Franchise Association for ratio of applicant to appointee. We believe that we can map out a fantastic career path for the serious and enterprising individual who has always wanted a successful business of their own but who wants to create a highly professional, credible and above all profitable enterprise in association with a company that has a proven track record of outstanding success.

Interviewed by Gordon Patterson and Gary Rigby