Who makes a successful franchise owner?

Business acumen and a passion for pooches are the perfect mix

We tend to have two types of people who are a good fit for our franchise. The first group absolutely adores dogs and they want to be very hands-on. They tend to run owner-operated units that often become a family business. They’re out in the community, building relationships and managing the team day to day.

The second group is made up of sophisticated, savvy investors. They love pets — and they also love highly profitable, scalable models that are unique in the marketplace. They look to scale quickly by opening multiple Camps.

Whichever group you’re in, “it’s a good time to get on board with us because we have proven ourselves in over 100 locations,” said Renuka Salinger, Vice President of Development. “All the heavy lifting has been done, yet we still have hundreds of opportunities across the U.S. and Canada.”

Some 25% of our franchise owners run multiple locations, relying on a manager model for day-to-day operations.

What makes Camp Bow Wow scalable?

Three things make it easy to scale with Camp Bow Wow:

  • Strong business model
  • Highly engaged employees
  • Raving fan dog parents

In 2015, Camp Bow Wow welcomed over 200,000 4-legged customers, who spent 3 million dog nights with us. You don’t generate that level of market dominance without good employees.

Camp employees tend to share our magnificent obsession. This is a passion business, and there’s a strong labor pool of employees who share that passion to take care of dogs.

Multi-unit owners Jordan and Barbara Murray of Pittsburgh can attest to that. They were both working in banking when they opened the first of their four locations in 2005.

Things were going so well that Barbara soon joined the business full-time. “My wife decided to leave her job at the bank because she was working for someone else and dealing with all the stress that went along with being a high-level executive. She wanted to come and do something with the dogs. We were tired of building someone else’s future.”

Today, their future looks bright and business is booming; plans are underway to open a fifth location in late 2016. As for whether any particular career background is helpful for a pet care franchise owner, Jordan doesn’t think the specifics matter too much.

“People come into it with experience managing other people. Some people come in with great dog experience. Is it valuable? Absolutely. Is it required? No. Some come in with great marketing backgrounds. I don’t think there’s any given skill set,” Jordan said.

Must love people, not just dogs

People skills are more valuable than you might think in such a dog-centric business. Camps typically employ upwards of 20 people, making labor by far the biggest expense and managing those human resources a vital piece of the puzzle. You’ll not only be juggling the demands of a large staff, you’ll also be plugging into your community, connecting with the large base of dog-lovers who need Camp Bow Wow’s services and may not even know it yet. Those relationships with the 2-legged clients are the ones that will drive the business, whether you own one location or five.

North Carolina attorney James Daniel and his wife Patti, a teacher, have both maintained their careers while operating Camps in Charlotte and Matthews, NC, with a third Camp set to open in 2016 in Fort Mill, SC. They set their sights on Camp Bow Wow as the perfect investment for their retirement plans, but for now, they’re enjoying the process of building up their business.

“It’s very rewarding,” said James. “First to be able to deliver a service that’s important to people because you’re taking care of a family member. The families trust us to take care of their dogs when they’re at work or traveling. It’s also rewarding to provide a livelihood for employees. We have quite a few employees now.”

The Daniels employ a general manager to oversee daily operations and also have a Camp Director at each location. In James’ case, he tends to spend most of his time — about 40 hours a month — with finances, bookkeeping and “the numbers side of things” while his wife works to oversee marketing.

“Anyone looking at a franchise business, and particularly in my situation where you’re not really involved full time, you want a proven business model that can be modeled and scaled successfully. What we get in terms of corporate support from Camp Bow Wow is a lot of value-added things like tech enhancement and marketing support that an independent business wouldn’t have access to.”