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A Day in the Life

Tag along with these 3 franchisees for a day, and see what it's really like to own a franchise.

You may have noticed the recent spate of reality shows following the lives of certain celebrities or people with particularly interesting jobs. As the cameras trail, the glitz and glamour is peeled away to reveal a more realistic view of what life is like for the subject. And more often than not, we see it takes hard work, self-discipline and an organized schedule to be successful.

Before investing in a franchise, don't you wish you could know what it's really like to oversee an operation? Beyond the brochures, propaganda and franchisor spiel, no one can explain what it's like to run a franchise like a franchisee. We found three franchise owners who were kind enough to pull back their franchise curtains to give you a peek into what a day in the life of owning their franchise entails. Roll tape!

Pet Project

Today, Nancy Roddy, owner of Camp Bow Wow in Castle Rock, Colorado, joins her staff at the 6:30 a.m. kickoff of the dog boarding and day-camp franchise, when the dog boarders are let into the outdoor areas of the 10,000-square-foot building before breakfast. The boarders are digesting their meals in their "private cabins" as the day-care dogs start arriving at 7 a.m. "This is always my favorite part," says Roddy, 42, who points out one of her favorite dogs, Buster the boxer.

In 2003, Roddy boarded her beagle, Daisy, at the Denver Camp Bow Wow. The positive experience prompted her to become a franchisee later that year. "They made me feel like my dog was the most special dog on earth," recalls Roddy. She now strives to provide that same comforting feeling to all her clients.

Though it took time to transition from the quiet tranquility of her former job--working at home, doing accounting for her parents' oil and gas company--to the rowdy, bark-filled Camp Bow Wow building, she says, "Every time I see tails wagging, I just smile." Roddy notes that the franchisor helped her get her business up and running--including assisting her with securing her location and certifying her in pet first aid. Franchise representatives also assisted her during her opening week.

Roddy now counts about 40 to 50 regulars, while averaging about 20 to 25 day-care dogs a day, so she sees plenty of wagging tails. She was also used to having weekends and holidays off, which isn't possible with this franchise.

During the day, when dogs misbehave, "we discipline them with a squirt bottle, or [we] bang two metal bowls to break up a fight," says Roddy. She and her staff clean and disinfect the kennels, prepare meals, do paperwork and conduct interviews for prospective day-campers and boarders.

Once day-campers start getting picked up at 4:30 p.m., Roddy and her employees begin the daily spray-down of the yards. Other chores, like trash disposal, mopping and sweeping, must be completed before the 7 p.m. closing time. Boarders are taken outside for their last bathroom break before retreating to their cabins for treats and bedtime. Finally, the Camp Bow Wow staff puts on soothing classical music to relax the tired pooches and turns off the lights so they can slumber in a calm, temperature-controlled environment.

Even if Roddy isn't covering a shift, she is on site every day to make sure everything's going smoothly, often with Daisy and her other beagle, Cooper, in tow. And when she's home doing bookkeeping, she watches via the webcam on Camp Bow Bow's website. Roddy acknowledges the dog business requires hard work, and finding employees who truly love working with dogs can sometimes be a challenge, but offers, "It's such a happy place. It's fun to know the dogs are having such a good time."

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This article was originally published in the August 2005 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: A Day in the Life.

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