Business Profiles

by Ecomist

last updated 23/06/2021

Dealing With Uninvited Guests

by Ecomist

last updated 23/06/2021

Ecomist’s local franchisees provide a highly-recommended pest management system for business of all kinds.

Dave Gerrie describes himself as an ‘observational biologist’. An Ecomist franchisee for over 20 years, he says that understanding the lifestyle of pests and rodents is fundamental to what he does.

‘You have to know about their life cycles, habitats, when they’re active, what they like, what they eat and where they shelter. Once you know all that, you’re in a position to make a real difference,’ says Dave. ‘That’s why we don’t just talk about “pest control” – instead, what Ecomist offers is an integrated system of pest management which aims to prevent problems occurring, rather than fixing them after an infestation has happened. If you see a cockroach, it’s bad news – if you see a baby cockroach, you’ve got problems!

‘For anyone running a commercial kitchen, it’s like a form of insurance – food safety regulations require you to have a pest control plan to maintain your Food Hygiene Certification, which is quite a complicated thing to prepare and manage. Rest homes, child-care facilities, cinemas, banks and all sorts of other operations also have similar needs. We can do that for our clients and, as qualified pest managers, we have access to professional products that are much more effective than the DIY stuff and considerably reduce the time frame to solve problems.’

As a result, Ecomist has national contracts with some very well-known companies, including Restaurant Brands (who operate KFC, Pizza Hut and Carl’s Jr.), Domino’s and St Pierre’s, which means plenty of work for franchisees all round the country.

Keeping people and premises safe

The core of the Ecomist service is a programmable aerosol dispenser which delivers a product featuring chrysanthemum daisy-based natural pyrethrins to control insects. Franchisees install the dispensers in businesses and then keep them stocked with a regular servicing call cycle. That gives them the chance to inspect the premises for any other issues, then take immediate action using their pest management training and other products such as barrier sprays, insect grenades and more to resolve the problem and keep the businesses and its customers safe.

And it’s not just commercial customers; Ecomist dispensers are popular with domestic users for controlling flying pests, and can also be used to dispense odour neutralisers. Ecomist offers a range of 35 different fragrances created by a French parfumier, including some well-known scents. Customers can order products online via the Ecomist website, and orders are fulfilled by franchisees in their own exclusive territories. This provides steady and recurring income while allowing franchisees to develop ongoing relationships.

New Zealand owned and operated

Ecomist is very much a New Zealand brand. It’s a division of Rotorua-based Damar Industries, which manufactures the Ecomist aerosol products locally. ‘That ensures continuity of supply while controlling costs for clients and ensuring profitability for franchisees,’ says Ian Robertson, Ecomist Group General Manager.

‘The combination of a New Zealand supplier with a localised service network of franchisees who each have a vested interest in their own businesses has led to very high customer satisfaction levels. Last year, a survey showed that our clients gave us a Net Promoter Score of 70. That’s world-class – most companies look to achieve 40 or more. And, to confirm that, the same survey showed almost 60 percent of leads came via word-of-mouth as clients recommend us to their friends and colleagues. Building those relationships is an important part of what our franchisees do.’

Growing demand all over

Dave Gerrie is one of those relationship builders. Ecomist’s current Franchisee of the Year, he joined the company 20 years ago as a distributor before it was restructured as a franchise. ‘It’s gone from strength-to-strength ever since,’ says the North Shore and Hibiscus Coast franchisee.

Dave had a background in sales and marketing with a major multinational, but he’d reached a stage in his career where the next move was overseas and that didn’t appeal to him as father to a young family. Instead, he decided to make money for himself rather than working for someone else.

‘Initially, the business was all about selling dispensers, but it’s got more and more interesting as we have got into the pest management side. I’ve done a lot of studying and courses to qualify in pest management as a PMANZ-registered Master Technician, and it’s been a fascinating learning curve as I’ve added services to help customers – and broadened my income streams, too.

‘The last year or so has seen demand increase all through Covid, and FYE 2021 figures show that nationwide website sales are up 36 percent year on year. It’s been very challenging for a lot of businesses, including some of my clients, and I’ve been glad to be in a position to help them out.

‘Pests had a field day during lockdown with fewer people in commercial spaces, so I was busy as people opened up again, and we worked on plans to make it affordable for them to comply with the regulations and keep everyone safe. The increase in people now working from home has also meant more people became aware of the pest problems around their own properties, so we’ve had more domestic work, too.’

Family businesses

This concern for the wider community is typical of Dave, who also sits on Ecomist’s Franchise Advisory Council, a group which meets regularly with franchisor management to help consider future activities, resolve operational or other issues and discuss marketing plans. New digital marketing campaigns have proved highly effective, and next up is a series of pest management videos featuring Dave himself.

‘That’s how this business works – we all like to lend a hand,’ he says. ‘At our recent conference, there was a really good feel from everybody, really positive – it was like coming together as a family.’

For many people, Ecomist really is a family business, says Ian. ‘Some of our franchisees own multiple territories, while others have encouraged their brothers or sisters or in-laws into the business. When a franchisee passed away last year, his daughter and her husband took over. That’s a measure of just how good a business this is.’

Rare opportunities

With 20 franchises throughout New Zealand, Ecomist has a very satisfied and very stable franchise network. ‘However, opportunities to join the team do arise occasionally, as growing demand means some franchisees with multiple territories are now considering selling off one of them to provide a better focus for their customers,’ says Ian. ‘A busy franchisee can generate a great return and still work from home, while some of the provincial areas offer a good income with an enviable lifestyle.

‘Franchisees retain full margin on all aerosol and hygiene products sold, and only pay royalties on their pest control work. A marketing levy on the sale of all Ecomist aerosol and hygiene products goes into a national marketing fund to be spent on promoting the Ecomist business nationally and locally. This is targeted at providing franchisees with the opportunity to drive revenue and reap the rewards of those marketing initiatives and their own hard work.’

Ecomist franchisees come from diverse backgrounds. ‘What they have in common is energy, self-motivation and sound business acumen,’ says Ian. ‘Full training is provided – mostly on-the-job in your own territory. In addition, franchisees undertake external training to gain a Level 3 qualification in urban pest management.

‘Ecomist also operates a franchise system in Australia and has distributors in South Africa, South Korea, the Philippines and Singapore.If you’re interested in the opportunity, give me a call.’

Business solutions

‘On the other hand, if you have a business where your reputation matters, where hygiene and cleanliness are critical, and where you need to stay on top of your game and keep your customers safe, we want to help,’ says Ian.

‘Call the Ecomist hotline on 0800 75 75 78 and one of our highly-trained local franchisees will be in touch directly. That way, you can see for yourself why we have such a good reputation for quick, effective solutions to keep your premises pest-free.’   

See this advertorial on page 38 of Franchise New Zealand magazine Year 30 Issue 02

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