Franchise Players: These Animal Lovers Founded a Luxury Hotel for Dogs
Franchise Players is Entrepreneur’s Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason and Steven Parker describe themselves as animal lovers and entrepreneurs. They are also brothers, business partners and cofounders of K-9 Resorts. K-9 Resorts is essentially a luxury hotel for dogs, as well as a daytime pet-care service.
The brothers founded the business in 2005 and began franchising in 2011. Today, K-9 has four locations open, with seven more in immediate development. Here's what the brothers have learned as entrepreneurs, founders and franchisors.
Name: Jason and Steven Parker.
Franchise owned (location): Franchise co-founders and owners of K-9 Resorts
How long you have owned the franchise: Nine years
After seeing how much time, energy and expense was involved with starting a pet care facility when we founded K-9 Resorts, we wanted to help others own their own business through franchising. With a franchise, you do not have to make all of the costly mistakes associated with starting your own business, you can take advantage of someone else's research, experience and proven track record and you do not have to reinvent the wheel. You are in business for yourself but not by yourself and you receive the training, guidance, support and expertise from someone who has already been running the same business for almost ten years.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
Owned and operated another business in the same pet care industry: professional pet sitting and dog walking.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
All of the systems, policies, procedures, marketing etc. was already proven and provided for me.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
For the original location, we spent about a half of a million dollars. For all franchise locations, it will be closer to a million. We realized that we outgrew our location right away. We were constantly on a waiting list for overnight dog boarding, and at the time, we only offered doggie daycare for guests that were over 30 pounds. After opening three additional franchise locations, we now know that there is a need for doggie daycare for dogs weighing 30 pounds and under and the need for more overnight accommodations. We found out that, as long as you provide a great service, if you build more accommodations for dog boarding, people will book them!
A breakdown of these costs are:
$45,000 - franchise fee
$500,000 - construction
$150,000 - soft costs (legal, architectural and engineering) and zoning expenses
$100,000 - working capital
$150,000 - advertising, equipment, signage, computer systems, etc.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
As the franchisor, we spent years researching, visiting top rated pet care facilities, consulting with industry experts and working with architects/engineers who exclusively build pet care facilities and veterinary hospitals. However, as a franchisee, you would not have to do any of this. All of the work has already been done for you. Franchisees are provided with the following:
- An exclusive territory that can support a K-9 Resorts franchise location
- Training at K-9 Resorts training center in New Jersey
- An operations manual which you can use as a reference for every aspect of running your facility
- All advertising materials (brochures, newspaper/magazine ads, website, social media) provided for you
- Expert advice from industry veterans/speakers on pet care
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
Real estate and zoning are the most challenging part of the process. At K-9 Resorts, we are very particular about the real estate process. We want to be in the best and most convenient locations for customers, with the best visibility.
Typically "kennels" are in heavy industrial areas or areas that are not convenient for customers. At K-9 Resorts, we fixed that. We are located in shopping malls, on main highway, near train stations and even close to neighborhoods. This is not something that is easy to do. However, we tell our franchisees they have to be patient and we will find the right site!
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Research the company you are considering being a part of. Make sure that you love the industry and business, you can see yourself doing this for 20 to 30 years and you enjoy working with the individuals who are running the company. If all of these things are true, you are making the right decision moving forward.
What’s next for you and your business?
Next steps are to open more stores.