(Ambrosio’s note: With the current lending environment still tight, most people are looking for interesting franchise opportunities that need a smaller initial investment than typically required of the more popular food-related franchises. Enviro-Tech Pest Services is a promising franchise opportunity that you can operate from home for a total initial investment in the five-figure range. Established in 1994 by CEO and President Nick Petti, Enviro-Tech is an environmentally responsible franchise centered on the reduction of unwanted pests in homes and businesses, while leading a green movement that challenges the pest control industry standard.
Nick, whose 24-year pest control career path began at age 18, observed deceptive practices by other companies regarding the choice of chemicals deemed appropriate and their application. Realizing the industry lacked a gold standard, Petti launched a company that is dedicated to filling a void in the $4.6 billion pest control and extermination sector.
Hope you enjoy reading this very informative interview with Nick Petti.)
Franchise Chatter (FC): Can you share with us the story of how Enviro-Tech got its start?
Nick Petti (NP): While working for a large regional pest control firm in the late 1980s, I experienced a company where too much emphasis was put on profit and not enough on employees or quality of service. Frustrated, I left and joined a smaller business that shared my values. As they grew, however, they seemed to lose sight of the standards they had originally set. Finally, I realized that in order to take pride in the company I worked for, I would need to start my own.
I wanted to build a company that cared about its customers and the service it provided; one where employees were appreciated and could enjoy working. I purchased a small company in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and began building the business that would become Enviro-Tech.
While shaping the vision of our company, we also decided that environmental consciousness needed to be an integral part of our service offerings. How could we tout the benefits of our services to employees and customers if we neglected to do our part in protecting the environment for all of us and for future generations?
As we grew, I also realized that in order to maintain our core principles, it would be better to keep a local owner-operator structure and decided to begin offering franchises rather than expanding and risk losing touch with the day to day needs of our customers and employees.
FC: For those unfamiliar, please tell us about the range of services offered by your franchisees.
NP: Our franchisees take advantage of bulk purchase power and the cumulative experience of our franchise support team to offer a much more professional and diverse selection of services than most small pest control companies.
From the very beginning, they are equipped to handle general pest (ants, spiders, cockroaches, mice, rats, etc.), termite, mosquito, and nuisance wildlife control. They can even offer Real Estate Inspection Services like Wood Destroying Organism Inspections and well and septic testing. For bed bug services, they have access to our inspection canine and thermal equipment, both of which would normally be far too expensive for a start-up firm.
NP: What initially attracts interest from potential franchisees is Enviro-Tech’s ‘Green’ initiatives. Environmental sustainability is more than an advertising campaign; we exemplify our message in every aspect of our corporate culture. Franchise owners and customers alike can immediately identify with our green focus — one that begins with our name and continues through product choice and application techniques and even affects our service vehicle choices and the building that houses our headquarters.
The most attractive aspect of an Enviro-Tech franchise to most prospective franchisees is the low start-up costs. The initial franchise launch only requires $40,000- $90,000, about 6 months to reach a break-even point and can begin even in a home or small office setting.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that this limits the growth of the business, though. Most franchisees will need to hire an additional service specialist by their second year and expansion continues from there!
FC: What are some common misperceptions about the pest control business that you wish to dispel?
We actually consider ourselves to be protectors of families, homes and the environment. Our service specialists are in the field every day identifying and controlling pests that transmit disease, disrupt lives, and damage property. The CDC recognizes cockroaches and rodents as the number one trigger of asthma attacks in children and the EPA estimates that safe and effective termite control saves consumers $90 million a year in property damage.
At Enviro-Tech, we are careful to select the products that will be effective against the target pest but have the lowest impact on non-targets such as people and pets. We even offer organic services if that is something that interests the customer.
FC: Based on your experience, do most franchisees have realistic expectations about the amount and type of effort needed to be successful in this field?
NP: We are very clear with potential franchisees that they will need to work full time in their business for them to achieve success. If they are unable to do this themselves, then they should have a manager from the very beginning who will be fully engaged in developing the potential of the company.
NP: Almost anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit can be successful as an Enviro-Tech franchisee. We look for individuals with good communication skills and some management experience as those are the hardest things to learn and have the most potential to hinder success if lacking.
Knowledge of pest management is not required — we provide full hands-on training and regular opportunities for ongoing education. We also offer training in the regulatory requirements and office management skills needed, and of course are always on-call to answer questions as they arise.
FC: What is the ideal neighborhood and territory for an Enviro-Tech franchise?
NP: The minimum population for an Enviro-Tech franchise is 150,000 people. We recommend that a franchisee live in the area where they are planning to offer pest control. Having ties to the community makes them more effective in sales and maintains the owner-operator model of management that we find so successful. Working and living in the same area provides the ideal situation to take pride in your service and is reassuring to your customer base. It also promotes a better work-life balance, which only becomes more important as the business expands and employees must be added and supervised.
NP: First of all, nothing is a better advertisement than the knowledge and effort of the franchisees themselves. This industry provides constant opportunities for growth in experience and understanding of pests, products, control methods, and business management. Franchisees are provided with coaching and support to develop an initial marketing plan and then develop and modify their plans as pest pressures and advertising opportunities dictate. Our team is also in place to provide answers and advice as the franchise matures into a robust and profitable enterprise.
The most valuable thing that a franchise owner can do is remain engaged in their business. They should never rest on their laurels or just work to make money. They need to strive to continue offering the best value of services that they can and enjoy the excitement and opportunities that their growing venture offers.
FC: What are some of the things you are doing to help your franchisees become profitable?
NP: When a franchise first opens, the team at Enviro-Tech is there to help develop an initial Business Plan with a cash flow forecast and Marketing Plan, to establish accounting practices that allow franchisees to measure their success, and to provide both field training and back office support. These tools launch the business ahead of similar ventures that have to flounder to gain experience and struggle through a long-term learning curve.
The most dangerous thing that can happen to a mature franchise is to become complacent. The support we offer and the continuing education that is available to our franchisees help prevent stagnation. As a member of a community of Enviro-Tech franchises, our franchisees can draw encouragement from other franchisees and develop camaraderie. We host an annual convention that includes a Franchise Development meeting, technical meeting and awards party to allow the franchisees to meet other owners, to share innovations, and promote growth opportunities.
FC: What are your goals for Enviro-Tech in the next few years and how do you plan to grow your business?
NP: Our goal is to grow our brand so that customers nationwide have access to the services of Enviro-Tech. This growth will be accomplished through the offering of franchises to entrepreneurs who model the ideals of customer service and environmental consciousness that we value.
FC: Is there anything else you wish to share about Enviro-Tech?
NP: Absolutely! The most important key to success for our franchises is the development of a recurring revenue model. In many service industries, after the service is performed you have to move on and seek new customers just to maintain sales numbers. In contrast, our services are based on the understanding that the most effective form of pest control is integrated pest management and prevention and that this is achieved through regularly scheduled inspections, habitat remediation, preventative applications where appropriate, and control treatments when needed. This forges long term and profitable relationships with a customer base that values the support of their service specialist. Instead of being simply an exterminator, our franchisees and their employees enjoy the role of trusted “protectors of families, homes, and the environment”.