Franchise Players

A Franchisee Who's Doggone Glad She Found a Business She Could 'Wuv'

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 ktaylor@entrepreneur.com.

Dogs! New Jersey brothers Steven and Jason Parker have loved them since at least their early teens when, unable to convince their parents to adopt one, they became entrepreneurs and opened a professional pet-sitting business, to prove their pet prowess to Mom and Dad. The brothers proved much more, selling their enterprise a year later for six figures and plowing that revenue back into a fullscale dog-boarding business. Today, K-9 Resorts Daycare & Luxury Hotel is an award-winning pet care facility that's been featured on Fox, CNN, CNBC and by the Wall Street Journal. No wonder fellow dog lover Larisa Citsay was attracted when she and her fiancé looked for a franchise to supplement their part-time careers -- hers in psychology, his in healthcare. K-9, it turns out, was the perfect choice. Because everyone knows how great dogs are for your emotional and physical well-being, right?

Name: Larisa Citsay

Franchise owned: K-9 Resorts Daycare & Luxury Hotel in East Brunswick, New Jersey

How long have you owned a franchise?

We opened for business in April of 2015.

Related: Dog Lovers Bring a New Pet-Care Franchise to Georgia

Why franchising?

The framework of the business and daily operations is proven, which gives us an opportunity to follow a path that has been successful. We’re able to gain all the wisdom the franchisors have acquired from their 10-plus years of experience in the pet industry, with K-9 Resorts.

What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?

I was in psychology, which I do part-time. My fiancé, Bill, was working in medicine, as a physician’s assistant, and also does this part-time. The health and wellness industry is a great passion of ours, in addition to pets.

Why did you choose this particular franchise?

We chose K-9 Resorts, first for our love of animals, and in particular, dogs. K-9 Resorts Daycare & Luxury Hotel is a very well-organized and clean facility. Cleanliness is very important for pet owners. K-9 Resorts is incredibly clean and runs efficiently. It is the perfect option for people who need a safe, comfortable place to leave their pets.

K-9 Resorts is also a younger franchise. I was able to open in the territory that I wanted because of that, and I am very confident that it will be successful. I thought it would be best to get in early and help them grow. The franchisors, Jason and Steven Parker, have seen great success, both as businessmen and pet lovers like us.

How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business? 

The franchise fee was $35,000. The capital requirement, for the down payment for the bank loan, was $200,000. Vendors' fees -- architect, attorney, engineer -- cost $100,000. Construction was around $600,000, and equipment was $100,000.

Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?

We got a lot of advice from the Parker brothers. Some we got from other business owners, as well as our own research from online sites, hands-on volunteering at the K-9 Resorts corporate store and reading various materials on the brand and franchising.

Related: Franchisees Find Their Passion in a Pet Specialty Store

What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?

The permits/inspections with the township were tricky to manage. The franchisor helped us throughout the process, which was reassuring.

What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?

Of course, do your research and educate yourself about the particular franchise, but also be passionate. If you are passionate, you will be committed, and thus successful.

What’s next for you and your business?

To continue to grow and be successful in the community. We are hoping to be able to open a second franchised location in the future!

Related: Franchise Players: A Pet Care Franchisee Changed Her Life at 21

Edition: December 2016

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