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Pet Project

A desire to help customers--and their owners--spells success.

Linda Franzblau began the party as she always did: by introducing herself to the guests; telling them about Petlane and its products for dogs, cats and birds; and talking about her own dog, Rocket, and her cats, Dot and Dash. Then she came to the point where every party differs--meeting the guests and learning about their needs. She asked each of them to introduce themselves and talk about their pets. A woman named Katy mentioned she had an older dog that she used to walk at night, but she couldn't anymore because the dog's eyesight was failing. Franzblau instantly knew how to help. As she handed out catalogs and order forms to customers, Franzblau took a moment to point Katy toward one of Petlane's newer products, the Pet Lamp, which attaches around a dog's neck and acts as a headlight. Katy's reaction? "She said, 'It sounds wonderful; it looks wonderful. Sign me up,'" says Franzblau.

Her passion for helping pets like Katy's dog is the reason Franzblau, 53, decided to become a Petlane pet advisor in February 2006. She tries to help customers by not only finding products to fill each pet's needs, but also educating their owners on better pet care through the discussions and games at her parties. And Franzblau may be making money as the expert at her parties, but she's also receiving a valuable education. "Every day, I'm learning different things to make my pets' lives healthier," she says.

Meanwhile, Franzblau has discovered that Petlane allows her to help more than just pets. "I can give back to my community in so many ways," she says. The business makes it easy for her to help people in and around her Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, home by setting up fundraisers for local charities. She creates a website for each charity, and the charity earns a percentage of the sales made on the Petlane products sold through that website.

The Petlane business also allows Franzblau to mentor other entrepreneurs as she adds new pet advisors across the country to her sales team. She encourages and educates her team by having a group phone call each week and holding monthly training sessions online. Franzblau and her team also educate themselves through Petlane's annual conventions and its book clubs, in which they read a new book each month that's pertinent to their business.

While her Petlane business fulfills many of her passions, Franzblau also had practical motivations for getting started. She had just been laid off from her job in marketing and product development and needed a way to support herself and her daughter. Luckily, she has found that her passion and her pocketbook can go hand in hand, especially when that passion is part of a $38 billion pet industry in the U.S. She expects to easily make six figures in the next two years, all while doing what she loves.
Tracy Stapp Herold is the special projects editor at Entrepreneur magazine. She works on franchise and business opportunity stories and listings, including the annual Franchise 500.

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This article was originally published in the May 2007 print edition of Entrepreneur's StartUps with the headline: Pet Project.

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