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In conversation with Simon Catchpole from our Kent team

Simon Catchpole runs our Kent region. His team tackles one of our Southern areas in the UK and delivers services to a diverse range of clients including local authorities and golf courses, using their expertise, combined with the latest technology and bespoke machinery to deliver high-quality services.


We spoke to Simon to find out more about his history in the business, the things he’s learned along the way and what’s in store for the future:


What was your life like prior to Complete Weed Control?

Simon: “Pre-Complete Weed Control, around 16 years ago, I was a self-employed sales agent, selling home accessories, where business was spent about 80 per cent on the road door-to-door selling, and 20 per cent in the showroom. But, by the time I’d finished working there, it had totally changed, as the boom of online shopping took over most of the business had turned online. It was about that time when my wife and I welcomed children into the family and I decided I needed a change in career, which meant I wasn’t too far away from home.”


So, how did this lead you to Complete Weed Control?

Simon: “Having been self-employed for so many years, I was worried I would struggle to find something suitable in an employment capacity. I sat down with my wife, who is an accountant, and we decided owning a franchise was a good option for me. It allowed me to have autonomy over my daily work, but also the support of a network of franchisees and head office to guide me.


“From this we pulled together a profile of the type of business I wanted and the type of business I didn’t want; I didn’t like the idea of a high street business and dealing with domestic customers. Complete Weed Control seemed to fit the bill.”


And how were the early days being a new franchisee?

Simon: “I’ve had the franchise for 16 years now, I bought it just as Ian and Alan were taking over the business. Back then I had purchased the area from John Allen and bought a truck, trailer and mule to get me started.


“It was a completely new sector for me to get to grips with, I was entrepreneurial from being self-employed for so many years, I knew how to deal with people and had no concerns about running a business but lacked the practical side. Luckily head office were always on hand to help, that’s the benefit of being in a franchise network. I remember Ian and Alan would jump in their cars and come down to show me what to do and help me understand the areas I was less confident in.”


So, did the franchise model help you throughout your journey then?

Simon: “Definitely, in the early days head office provided support and training, and even now I’m able to pick up the phone up and ask others for help, which is where the network adds value. Because my location is more difficult and I haven’t got the same number of adjacent franchisees surrounding my area, knowing that people are only a phone call away is even more important.


“Not just that, but I thoroughly enjoy our regional conferences, they’re a great opportunity for all of the franchisees to get together, share stories and learn best practice from one another.


“A great example is when I initially got my first two golf courses. I asked Alan for help and said to him: “Having got my head round the basics, I’ll do the first one myself and then can you come and show me what to do on the second one?”, big mistake. I should have taken him up on his offer of help in the first place. That second time around watching Alan, I learned so much and it truly helped me understand the way the machine needs to flow, it would have taken me a long time to learn on my own without Alan.”


“For a new franchise knowing that there’s that resource is so valuable, and for longstanding franchisees like me now, it’s the knowledge base. The network is the first place to go to look for advice.”


What’s your plans for the future?

Simon: “Having had a good career in the industry for 16 years, I think I’ll be ready to retire in the next few years and pass the baton onto someone else. I’ve got a full-time employee at the moment who I think would be perfect for the job and that’s the great thing about the franchise model in this industry, it gives the younger generation the opportunity to be business owners, something you don’t often find elsewhere.”

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