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Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Aiming to live to work - not work to live

Having received an unexpected, yet generous, redundancy package recently I have been looking at the options for investing in a new career in the dog world - why not do what you love right?! There seem to be a lot of franchise and business opportunities in the dog industry that I can go for but it can be hard to tell what works and what would fit. Would anyone be able to offer any advice on what they've tried and what worked for them?
Terry Lake

Editor's note:
Can we keep this positive? I can forward Terry any personal negative experiences you may have had but if I make any live here we will quickly find ourselves in the libel courts!


  1. I started my dog walking business 3 years ago after 2 years off work for caring responsibilities - so I started with nothing. I've built it over the years into a small business with 3 permanent employees and 2 casual staff for the busier times.

    If you have money to invest you wouldn't have to save for 2 years to replace your old van, as I did, I also ran it with 'temporary' crates for 9 months while I saved for the bespoke 'travel kennels' I have now.

    There are franchises out there, but I believe you still have to build your own work, you don't get given any clients, and although you are given your own postcodes, that doesn't stop the independents like me working in the same area. I think they offer marketting, which can help, but it's not as targetted as you could do for yourself. I also know of one woman who bought into a franchise, and local vets wouldn't give out her details as the company had a bad reputation in the area!

    Dog walking is slow to build up, because once people have someone they can trust they don't shop around. So you have to wait for people to move into the area, to get a new puppy, change of job, or another walker to quit, but I wouldn't change it for the world!

    Good luck whatever you decide.

  2. I think it is a great idea! Like Linda said, there are loads of franchise opportunities in the pet industry that are profitable. However, you don't get the satisfaction of creating something from nothing and seeing the profits go into your bank account alone! Are you creative? Why not start to manufacture something? As long as you do your research, get your designs spot on, then there is a lot of potential in the retail/maufacturing market. Think about what you are good at, your skills, your experience, your ideas, you loves and hates, make a list and work out what you want to do in the pet industry. It is a massive decision and a lot of thought must go into it, you will have negative comments from many people asking why you don't continue in the same profession as you were in prior to redundancy, the pet industry is a much safer career move depending on what line you choose. I hope this has helped, coming from experience (slave to the economy in London stock market and now successful canine lifestyle accessories manufacturer)I can tell you that it will not be easy, I started from nothing, I mean nothing! And I have a great work life now. Good luck with your adventure, I truly hope you succeed!

  3. My hubby fancied setting up a dog walking and pet care business for a few years so when offered the chance of redundancy in May 2009 he jumped at the opportunity.

    We did our research, bought a fully kitted out ex police dog van, set up a website and off he went. As well as dog walking Ian offers services such as toilet break/puppy visits, pet sitting, pet transport etc. He's never looked back. As Linda says it takes a wee while to build up your customer base but once you do that the work is steady. Ian regularly has to turn down jobs because he is so busy and we keep thinking about whether to expand.

    Personally, I don't see the point in paying money for a franchise when it's not that difficult to set up on your own.

    One of Ian's clients recently set up her own dog grooming business, which is doing very well. She wishes she'd done it long ago. So, maybe that's another option.

    Good luck and enjoy!

  4. I started my own petsitting and dog walking business almost 6 years ago after finishing uni and never considered a franchise. I didn't see the point in paying a small fortune when its really not difficult to set up your own business with your own branding and ethics. In fact I think it's much better that way. There are several franchise opportunities in the dog care industry and not all have a good reputation. Save your money and you'll be just as successful. I've now moved into dog daycare, training and behaviour and can progress at my own pace, build my own customer base by setting my own high standards and deciding on my own ethics. I wouldn't want to be restricted by a franchise as most people in this field offer several different services.