When the economy started to show signs of faltering in late 2008 and slid inevitably into recession, concern about the future was obvious in nearly every business sector. Franchises were seen by many as slightly safer than non-franchised businesses because of the experience and support available from the franchisor. Some franchisors did indeed rise to the occasion and offer extra support to their franchisees by, for example, reducing royalty payments or stepping up their advertising campaigns.
But within the franchising industry there were a handful of sectors that remained confident and saw the worsening economy as an opportunity to expand. One of the factors fueling this confidence was the knowledge that there would be many capable people who had lost their jobs but were prepared to invest in starting a business of their own, and this has indeed proven to be the case.
Another reason for this confidence is the trend of “cocooning”, where families centre their leisure activities around the home. This trend has gained momentum during the recession. In difficult times people go out less, entertain at home more and any spare cash is used to invest in meaningful things such as children’s enrichment classes, the family home and our pet companions.
Franchise businesses that focus on tasks and activities around the home such as maintenance and repair are doing well and franchise businesses which can be run from the home hold great appeal to new entrepreneurs. Many pet franchise businesses sit comfortably within this home-based home-focused category, but the pet franchise industry is far from being a struggling and unimportant niche, Business Week magazine reported that in 2007 Americans spent $34.3 billion on pets and this figure was expected to grow to $52 billion by 2009.
The pet franchise industry has indeed expanded greatly, even in this difficult economy and franchises involved in dog walking, pet grooming, pet training and cleaning up pet poop have flourished. It is really good news all round: for the pet owner, hiring the services of a pet franchise brand ensures that the company has established itself and should be able to meet the customer’s expectations. For the budding entrepreneur, many pet franchises represent an easy business to enter, often with low start-up fees and little previous experience being required.
Additionally, pet franchise businesses benefit from – and enhance – the goodwill found within many neighbourhoods. A petshop owner, a dog walker, a gourmet pet food supplier, a dog washer soon becomes a well-known figure in his or her community and this can result in a cascading set of referrals and endorsements.
For the new entrepreneur, it is also good news, as there is now a wide range of pet franchises to choose from, here is a small sample: Pet and children photography franchises, dog walking and dog day-care franchises, gourmet pet food franchises, such as Woof Gang Bakery, obedience training and the very successful Bark Busters. Most of these can be operated from a home-base, but there are also brick and mortar businesses like the obedience training center Zoom Room and various retail pet store franchises.