Winter 2014 Canine Care
Two brothers groom a love of dogs into a profitable franchise.
Growing up in Scotch Plains, NJ, brothers Steven and Jason Parker always dreamed of getting a dog for a pet. The problem was that their parents were just not what you would call “dog people.”
Nevertheless, the brothers devised a way to be around their four-legged friends. When they were just 12 and 14 respectively, Jason and Stephen began a pet care business, K-9 Guardians Professional Pet Sitting, from their home. “Our neighbor was retired and travelled frequently, so we started watching his two little dogs,” Jason Parker says. “We loved it so much that we started caring for our other neighbors’ dogs.”
The young entrepreneurs didn’t stop there. By high school, they added dog walking to their business plan and the brothers built up a reputation in the neighborhood as the go-to guys for taking care of animals. Despite their limited affection for dogs, their parents were both impressed by their spirit and business moxie.
The next logical step was a full-fledged concept. “We pursued this idea of opening a brick-and-mortar hotel and daycare center for dogs, so people could bring them to us and we could have more control over what’s going on,” Jason Parker says. “We travelled all over the country to seminars, meeting with experts and engineers and found the perfect team who could build the pet care facility we envisioned.”
In 2005, the first K-9 Resorts Daycare & Luxury Hotel opened in their hometown, and it wasn’t long before others came to fruition in Fairfield and Middletown, NJ. Today, the brothers have three locations in New Jersey and others along the East Coast are set to open.
K-9 Resorts lets owners choose from a variety of spacious accommodations to make their pets feel right at home—everything from traditional boarding in cages to luxury suites complete with a window, bed and TV. Dogs can stay for one night or longer; some have stayed for as long as four months. Rates vary by location, but standard luxury boarding runs $50 to $100 a night and resort services such as treats, outdoor walks and personal playtime are a little extra.
There’s also Doggie Day Care, offering a cage-free environment where dogs can play, socialize and remain active all day. K-9 Resorts ensures all dogs participating in the program are healthy and current with shots, and all activities are monitored with safety in mind by certified pet sitters. All-day doggie daycare costs around $35 but cheaper options are available for multiple days.
Larger paw print
The brothers determined that franchising was the best way to grow the company and provide others the opportunity to own their own business. “For interested franchisees to open a facility, the range is from $750,000 to $1 million all in,” Jason Parker says. “A franchisee would need to come to the table with 25-30 percent, which includes a $40,000 franchise fee, and money for build-out and construction, buying all the equipment, security and so on.” The biggest challenge with franchising, he says, is finding real estate and getting it approved for zoning. The ideal spot is a facility that is 5,000-7,000 square feet in a location that allows for this sort of business, or else plenty of paperwork is involved in getting it approved.
“For franchises, Steven and I like to get very involved. We don’t just sign you up and give you a manual. We are involved in every step of the process,” Jason Parker says. “We are looking for entrepreneurs that have a certain level of business experience and love animals and want to be in business for themselves, but with the support of K9 Resorts.”
Currently, K-9 Resorts has signed agreements with franchisees from New York to northern Virginia and the brothers look forward to expanding its paw and footprint in the years ahead.
“There’s competition of course, but no one does it on the personal level that we do,” Jason Parker says. “Whether it’s the care we put into the facility with our floors and ventilation system, the carefully designed boarding layout or just our attention to the dogs, we take a luxurious approach to provide the very best.”
For more information, please visit k9resorts.com.
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