It’s a dog’s world

By Sarah Stowe | 06 Nov 2015 View comments

Not all pet care franchises are hands-on; some franchisees in the sector may never even see an animal in the course of their work. However, whether you’re shampooing a poodle, discussing the diet for a kitten or organising holiday care for a budgie you will be immersed in a world of pets and their owners.

If that’s something you would enjoy, you have a wide range of options in terms of the services you provide and the cost of entry. Find the right one for you and building a successful business is sure to be satisfying as well as rewarding.

Don’t Fret Pet

When dogs are used to being part of the family, leaving them in a boarding kennel can be very traumatic — for the owners if not the pets. By placing dogs in the homes of carefully-matched minders, Don’t Fret Pet minimises the stress.

Jenny Brearley was inspired to start the business 17 years ago when she found herself avoiding a holiday rather than boarding her beloved Rhodesian Ridgeback. Seven years later she was ready to franchise; today there are 13 franchisees based in Sydney, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide and Newcastle.

“Part of the reason why we’re so far flung is that our territories need to be larger than others in the industry,” says Brearley. “While people are likely to have their dogs washed once or twice a month, they generally only go on holiday once or twice a year.”

Don’t Fret Pet has been growing at a consistent 27 per cent a year since its inception. Now Brearley and her business partner Kathleen Mansfield are ready for more active expansion including a move into regional areas.

“In the past we’ve turned down inquiries from people who are looking for a part-time green change business but our research has shown thereÕs a great need for quality pet care out of the city,” Brearley says.

Depending on the area, cost of entry ranges from $9,900 to $19,500 including GST. Along with the territory, this secures a start-up supply of stationery, uniform, car signage, tailored software, MYOB and three once-a-month visits from a book-keeper.

Don’t Fret Pet also provides ongoing and high-level training and telephone support, an important factor in giving people the confidence they need to start their own business.

“Our franchisees find it very reassuring to know they can pick up the phone and talk or ask about anything at any time,” says Brearley.

Aussie Pooch Mobile

When Chris Taylor started her business, many people couldn’t imagine why you’d bother washing a dog at all, much less get someone to do it for you. That was 20 years ago — and how things have changed!

“Modern owners expect their dog to smell great all the time,” says operations manager Mark Welham. “We have a new generation of customers who know no other way than using a service such as ours.”

Today there are nearly 200 Aussie Pooch Mobile franchisees in six countries. Existing franchises cost between $30,000 and $60,000 including GST and new territories are available for $38,170. Flexible and tailored franchise packages help the right people get started in their own business.

“We look for self-motivated, outgoing dog-lovers who enjoy the outdoors,” says Welham. “This is not the job for someone who is lazy, unmotivated or non-caring.”

A team of master franchisees and managers trains and supports franchisees on a one-to-one basis as well as in groups at regular focus meetings and annual conferences. The group’s branding and advertising program is ongoing and under continuous review — recent changes brought about a 20 per cent increase in the number of inquiries. And the service is also continually evolving to meet customer expectation. Over the years, the group has introduced retail products, massage and Aromacare treatments.

“Customers are now not just pet owners but pet parents,” says Welham. “They want the best for their dogs and are looking for that little bit extra.”

Bark Busters

Bark Busters is not about training dogs, it’s about training people. Director Bryan Edwards describes a franchisee’s role as helping people to manage their pets by teaching them about dog psychology.

While a love of dogs is a given, business acumen is crucial to success.

“Franchisees must be capable of running their own business,” says Edwards. “Our selection process is rigorous in this area and, as a result, we’ve never had a business fail. As franchisees work in clientsÕ homes, character is also an important consideration so they must undergo a police check.”

One of the most rewarding aspects of the job is making a real difference to people’s lives.

“All of our clients are asked to give feedback,” Edwards continues. “The questionnaires go straight to head office so they can be as honest as they like but IÕd say 99.999 percent make for wonderful reading. A destructive dog can put a huge strain on a family because it can do so much damage — for instance, one client had a dog that ate through a brand new $6,000 leather sofa. We’re often told that Bark Busters saved a relationship.”

Founded in 1989 by Sylvia and Danny Wilson, Bark Busters now has 39 franchised outlets in Australia. The minimum cost of entry is $27,000 but, these days, most transactions are resales with an upper limit of around $120,000. In return, franchisees receive a protected territory, training and support. This includes internet and phone back-up as well as state visits and an annual training conference.

Looking into the future, Edwards can only see potential for more growth. “People are becoming increasingly aware of their responsibility to have a well-behaved dog,” he says. “And the pet industry is continuing to grow significantly. Even in the darkest days of the global financial crisis the market grew by six percent.”