It's the ideal retreat--acres of beautiful land to explore, tons of activities, plush rooms and employees who cater to clients' every need. Welcome to the Golden Lake Recreational Pet Camp--a haven for pets and an opportunity for any animal-loving entrepreneur.
Set in the countryside of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, Golden Lake opened its doggy doors in 1987. The facility includes bunk houses, a group play yard and a doggy den, and can house 50 dogs and 16 cats, with seven full-time employees on hand to care for them. Boarding rates start at $30 per day. Veterinarian services are also provided for an additional charge.
Rob Lauver, 40, Golden Lake's president and founder, discovered the niche while seeking someone to take care of his dogs while he was on vacation. He called 27 facilities, looking for a place that would let his dogs out of their pens for walks. He found none. "I thought, `I can't be the only one who wants something different from what's out there.' " During the next 10 years he attempted to find an institution that would finance his boarding facility idea--but to no avail. Eventually, Lauver used personal savings and credit cards to get his pet retreat started.
Now that his first location is a success, Lauver wants to use franchising to teach others the right way to care for animals. It costs $188,000 to $747,900 to start one of Lauver's pet camps. Franchisee training can last up to three months and begins at Lauver's facility, then continues at the franchisee's facility after construction is completed.
Lauver is quick to note this franchise isn't for absentee owners. He and his wife, Amy, live in the same building as the dogs and have only been away from the camp twice in the past 12 years. "This isn't a business--it's a lifestyle," says Lauver, whose day starts at 6 a.m. and ends at 9 p.m. "It's just like farming. You're tied to this business day and night."