A Growing Trend in the Pet Care Industry
By Kathy Hosler
Did you know that in the United States, about one in every 12 business establishments is a franchise? And that number is growing. While everyone is familiar with the names of many popular franchises (e.g. McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Jiffy Lube, etc.), you may not know that the pet care industry also offers many franchising opportunities – from grooming, training, boarding, and pet sitting to in-home care, pet waste removal, and more.
Americans spend more than $53 billion on their pets every year. Could a franchise in some area of pet care help you cash in on this booming industry? Before you can answer that, you need to know what a franchise is and the advantages and disadvantages of owning one.
According to the Encarta Dictionary, a franchise is “a business licensed to sell a company’s products exclusively in a particular area or to operate a business that carries that company’s name.” In a nutshell, franchising is like business cloning.
Why would anyone want to own a franchise rather than simply starting a business of their own? One reason is that the franchisor has already done all the legwork to set up everything that a new owner will need to run their business effectively. There is no time-consuming trial and error, because you follow their pre-established guidelines.
When you start your own business, growth can be slow, because you have no “blueprint for success.” Often you learn the hard way and make costly mistakes as you go. Only two out of every ten small independent businesses that open survive, while nine out of ten franchises thrive.
“Buying a franchise allows you to have a business that is up and running quickly and to provide high-quality service from day one,” says Paul Mann, Founder and CEO of Fetch Pet Care, the nation’s largest provider of professional pet sitting and dog walking services. “You follow a proven formula that works. It minimizes risk and puts you on the fast track to success.” Recently Entrepreneur Magazine ranked Fetch Pet Care #1 in Pet Services, and it was voted among 100 of America’s lowest risk, low-cost franchises.
“A franchise is a great option for people who have never been in business, because everything is put in place for them,” says Sharon Dietrich, Director of Sales for Franchise Solutions. “When you walk in the door, all the software, billing systems, etc., are already there for you. All the hard work is done for you, which lessens mistakes and enables you to use your time wisely.”
“A G’day Pet Care franchise offers specialized services in three key service categories: pet care, home-delivered pet food, and home care,” says Joan Trinka, Director of Franchise Development. “The real advantage to buying a franchise is you get to use all the experience we have in the pet industry, our business operations systems, our marketing expertise and professional marketing materials.” G’day Pet Care has been named best in pet services category for 2013 by Franchise Business Review.
Hunter Reed, founder of Blue Chip Pet Care, an in-home pet care service, says, “One of the many benefits of owning a franchise is that you get a standardized way of doing business. All of the business forms, marketing materials, and bookkeeping systems are provided to you.”
A popular saying is that people buying a franchise are in business for themselves but not by themselves. Roger Flynn, Vice President of Franchising for Zoomin Groomin, a full-service mobile pet service franchisor says, “You’re not by yourself. You get continued support and training from us, and you can communicate and network with other franchisees. We have regional managers that can work one-on-one with individual franchisees… Independent business owners don’t have the luxury of the support system that comes with owning a franchise.”
In most cases, you get a protected territory with your franchise. That guarantees that no one else can open the same franchise in your area. “At Zoomin Groomin,” continues Mr. Flynn, “each franchisee gets a territory of a size that contains about 50,000 single family homes that meet a certain income level.”
One huge benefit of having a franchise is the brand recognition and reputation that comes with the business. When someone says to you, “Let’s go to McDonald’s, you instantly know what they are talking about. If you order a Big Mac and fries in Seattle, Washington, you expect them to taste the same as the ones you had when you visited Miami, Florida, and all the cities in between. That’s one reason franchisors require uniformity. People are comfortable when they step inside a business and know what to expect.
“Camp BowWow is the largest pet care franchise in North America,” says Dacia Henshaw, Senior Director of Business Development. “Pet owners can expect the same great services and care when they visit any of the over 114 Camp BowWow franchises throughout the United States and Canada.”
A monthly royalty fee is normally paid by each franchise owner. A portion of that fee is generally earmarked for marketing and advertising. Pooling all the franchisees money helps fund national advertising, which benefits everyone. Through the corporate website, potential clients can find the location of a franchise in their local area.
Franchising is not the right fit for everyone. People who are the most successful in a franchise are those that are organized, can multitask, are customer service oriented, pay attention to details, and have the time, dedication, and finances to grow a business. They follow the franchisors system like a chef follows a recipe. If you are the type of person that is very entrepreneurial, wants to do things your own way, and makes all your own decisions about business practices, a franchise may not be the best fit for you.
Are there any disadvantages to owning a franchise? Well, the initial cost of the franchise could be substantial, and you pay an ongoing royalty fee that is based on your monthly gross revenue.
Depending on the franchise you select, you may have to purchase all of your supplies or products from a supplier chosen by the franchisor. That could be an advantage or a disadvantage.
Most franchises require uniformity. You cannot deviate from their set policies and procedures. That’s why you can’t buy a hotdog at Dunkin Donuts, have your car’s oil changed at Starbucks, or get your carpets cleaned by Rotor Rooter.
A franchise is not something that anyone should enter into hastily. You need to research your area of interest carefully and decide what is best for you. You can learn more about franchises at websites like www.franchise.org.
New opportunities open up everyday in the pet care industry. Whether you decide that you want to purchase a franchise or to open a business on your own, find your passion, absolutely love what you do, and success will be within your reach. ✂