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This Father-Son Team Became the Top Dogtopia Franchisees In Record Time. Here's How They Did It. They went into business knowing exactly what their value proposition would be.

By Kim Kavin Edited by Frances Dodds

This story appears in the May 2023 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Courtesy of Dogtopia

Larry and Brandon Greene are the top dogs of Dogtopia. And it happened fast.

The father-son team opened their first Dogtopia franchise near downtown Denver in September 2020. The franchise offers dog daycare and spa services — and by 2022, the Greenes had the highest daycare revenue among the brand's 223 North American locations. By early 2023, the Greenes were bringing in the most revenue overall (depending on the week — some weeks they're second overall). Then they received an International Franchise Association's Franchisee of the Year Award. Dogtopia president and CEO Neil Gill calls them the "perfect combination."

How'd they do it? With focus. Before this, Larry had a successful career in manufacturing and private equity. Brandon studied animal science in college, and spent some time interning in a dog daycare and boarding facility. Together, they became dedicated to execution. "We never deviated," Larry says. "We focused on that from day one — trying to find the right fit of people. We invested a ton of money into the facility and staffed better than everybody else to get a high level of service."

Here are three of the Greenes' core performance strategies.

Related: Why Customer Experience is the Secret to Revenue Growth and Business Success

1. Serve both customers.

Dogtopia's philosophy is that it has two customers, but only one of them carries a credit card. Brandon hires staff who love dogs, yes, but who can also serve people. "By getting these employees to ask the pet parents about their day, see what they're doing for a living, talk to them about their kids — these are things that other daycares aren't doing," Brandon says.

2. Manage metrics.

The Greenes meet with their managers weekly to talk about who's ready for more responsibility, and who's struggling. Then they discuss key metrics, including leads and how many dogs walked through the door. "It's just a handful of metrics that everybody impacts, and we review them every week, so we know what our business is going to be next week, plus or minus 5%," Larry says.

Related: Metrics that Matter: Protect, Grow, and Create Value for Your Business

3. Know your value.

The Greenes offer a premier experience, so their pricing reflects that. They emphasize this when training staff, and they don't shy away from it with customers. They also accept that premium services can mean premium costs. They often give free daycare to dogs who need extra coaxing, for example. "We had one dog who took two weeks to feel comfortable, and now she has friends," Brandon says.

The Franchisor's Take

What makes a Dogtopia franchise successful? Three things, according to president and CEO Neil Gill: They need a strong business operator for day-to-day store needs, a relationship manager who truly knows the needs of dogs and their "parents," and an operations manager to handle back-of-house tasks like facility management.

"[The Greenes] have just done this beautiful job of putting those three pieces together," Gill says. "And then having Brandon mentored and coached by his father, it's a perfect combination." Generally, he adds, Dogtopia has had good experiences with family team franchisees. "The [parent-child] thing works so well because the respect already exists in the relationship," Gill says. "You don't have to employ a general manager and then learn how to work together. Both parties have skin in the game, and they know what they do well."

Related: Growing Business Relationships Grows Revenue

Kim Kavin was an editorial staffer at newspapers and magazines for a decade before going full-time freelance in 2003. She has written for The Washington Post, NBC’s ThinkThe Hill and more about the need to protect independent contractor careers. She co-founded the grassroots, nonpartisan, self-funded group Fight For Freelancers.

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