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Franchisees Find Their Passion in a Pet Specialty Store Wag N' Wash stores, with their unique and fun atmosphere for pet owners and their companion animals, felt like a natural fit for the Kerndts.

By Jacqueline Nochisaki

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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.

After finding their entrepreneurial spirits -- thanks, in part, to their four-legged family members, Greta the goldendoodle and Oscar the cat -- Clark Kerndt and his wife left their jobs to open a branch of Wag N' Wash Pet Food & Bakery in the Twin Cities.

Name: Clark Kerndt

Franchise owned (location): Wag N' Wash Pet Food & Bakery in Eagan, Minn.

How long have you owned a franchise? Six months.

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Why franchising?

I didn't consider myself a true entrepreneur at heart -- I didn't have a great idea for a business on my own. I chose franchising because of the ability to implement an already-existing concept that's proven viable in other areas. I think franchising reduces -- but doesn't eliminate -- the risk of a first-time small-business owner.

What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?

I spent 20 years in various corporate business roles at small, medium and large companies. My functions included accounting and finance, market research, software management, training and operations.

Why did you choose this particular franchise?

My goal was to leave full-time employment and work in the business. As pet owners (we have a goldendoodle named Greta and short-haired cat named Oscar), my wife and I were immediately impressed by the products and services that Wag N' Wash offers such as premium all-natural pet foods, self-serve wash, grooming, a bakery, toys and accessories. We quickly realized that Wag N' Wash was the natural fit for us. The stores provide a completely unique and fun atmosphere for pet owners and their companion animals, and we were beyond excited to bring it to the Twin Cities. I felt the business was complex enough and of enough size to keep my interest long-term. In addition, I felt the franchisor would provide great support.

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

  • Build-out: $200,000
  • Equipment: $70,000
  • Inventory: $30,000
  • Prepaid rent: $15,000
  • Signage: $12,000
  • Information Technology: $10,000
  • Insurance: $7,000
  • Misc. supplies: $5,000
  • Legal fees: $2,000
  • Travel: $2,000

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

I went to a trade show where I met two brokers who helped me look at various options. I also read Rick Bisio's helpful book, The Educated Franchisee.

What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?

Since this was my first business, I knew to expect the unexpected. I had a fair amount of time to prepare for the business opening but even so, toward the end there were a lot of fine details -- construction, ordering inventory and supplies, hiring, etc. -- that needed to be completed quickly. I wasn't as prepared to open as I would've liked.

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

Think about what you truly want from the business and how that will effect other parts of your life. Do you want to earn a lot of income? Are you looking for more of a lifestyle change? How much time do you want to devote to the business? Be prepared to learn a lot in a short amount of time, and be able to handle the stress of not knowing how things will turn out.

What's next for you and your business?

I'm focused on making sure my team and I are upholding the standards of the franchise in terms of knowledge, service, operations, etc. The key is to make sure we're increasing sales for every customer that comes in so we can survive as a business.

Related: Richard Branson's Biggest Mistake: Inventing the iPod… as a Prank

Jacqueline Nochisaki

Associate Editor

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