Ongoing and expert support is not only required for the pets and pet owners in a pet-care franchise. In fact, an established franchisor should offer a proven business structure whereby the franchisee themselves is supported so their business can ultimately flourish. If this is not achieved, there is a danger that not only the individual will struggle with the demands of running the business, but the overall standard and quality of the franchise offering will drop as a result. This time, Kevin Thackrah, Director of Petpals, describes how he has harnessed his 20+ years’ experience with the award-winning pet-care franchise to ensure that his franchisees get as much care as the pets in their business.
One of the fundamental components of running any sort of business successfully is honesty – and this starts from day one. The first point of access for any prospect that enquires about the Petpals franchise opportunity is a meeting with myself and other representatives from the franchise support team. When that prospect meets with me, I am wholeheartedly honest about what being a Petpals franchisee entails – and, perhaps more crucially, what it takes to run it successfully. I think it is crucial to be pragmatic at this stage of proceedings because, let’s be honest, it will not take long for the franchisee to discover the reality of running a franchise.
At Petpals, we have many successful franchisees who operate both owner-operator and management models, and they have all achieved amazing things. But it has not come without hard work and following the business model they were equipped with. It wouldn’t be fair to act like franchisees have free rein over the operations of the business – that could lead to resentment further down the line if we sold a false dream that success at Petpals is achieved without dedication. And the high level of trust we have established with our network means that they feel they can communicate any concerns, in the knowledge that we will work through them together.
Supporting our franchisees to relieve any pressures or stress felt throughout the operations of their business is of real importance to us, so ensuring systems and processes are in place that they can always utilise is something we invest significant time in. For instance, we have created a franchisee forum to ensure that any common issues in the network get detected from the offset and that, ultimately, resolutions are found. I find that having insight from our franchisees is a wonderful way of making sure you can support any common areas of stress. As a franchisor, you can’t be on the ground all of the time, so you need to give your network an opportunity to voice their opinions and come to you with their own solutions – whether that be a common issue with recruitment or a glitch with an online system. Whatever the case, we are all ears if it makes a difference to our network. Our annual conference is a great place to further address any wide-reaching issues as we have more opportunities to offer best practices, so the model can be run as effectively as possible.
We have also made a concerted effort to increase the size of our head office team, to make sure the best possible people are in place to support our franchisees. To join our already existing team, we have now appointed a digital marketer to support franchisees with their online presence and marketing implementation, which can often be a factor of business operations that franchisees struggle with. We also very recently recruited a brand development manager, who himself owns an extremely successful territory, so he has real insight into the model and is passionate about making Petpals even more profitable in the future.
No matter their ambition, we want our franchise owners to be free to build their own profitable business, that not only makes a huge difference to their life, but ultimately to the pets and pet owners of their community.