Charlotte from We Love Pets Stevenage hold a dog with one next to her

Meet Charlotte – We Love Pets Stevenage

Meet Charlotte, an entrepreneur with a passion for animals, who’s expanding her business endeavours into the pet care industry! As business owners in the education sector, Charlotte and her husband had to adapt to many changes with the onsets of the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit, which ignited their interest in starting something new.

Why did you choose a franchise over setting up your own business?

I chose to pursue a franchise because I wanted to be able to hit the ground running, and the franchise model sets you up with an established brand and support system, so it’s easier to get started. Being in business on your own can sometimes be lonely and intimidating, so it’s nice that a franchise offers the security of knowing that there are other people in your same situation – it’s definitely a comfort to have an existing network of fellow franchisees!

Why did you choose WLP?

There were two things that really stuck out for me about We Love Pets. First of all, I absolutely love that the company is committed to a No Pack-Walking Policy. I hate seeing vans driving around with cages in the back full of dogs, and knowing that some of those dogs (probably the majority) spend more time in the back of a vehicle than they do getting the exercise they need! It’s inhumane, and I knew I didn’t want to do that. Secondly, I could tell almost immediately just how much We Love Pets cares about animals and their welfare – even the website conveyed this message! After speaking to Ryan, I was sold; I love the mission of the business, the unparalleled training it offers, and the caring attitude of the whole team.

Did you look at any other franchises?

Yes, I looked at other pet franchises, but was able to rule most of them out based solely on the fact that they allow pack-walking, which of course I don’t agree with. There was only one other franchise company I considered as strongly as We Love Pets and it was in a completely different business sector. Ultimately, I chose We Love Pets because it felt like a family business, and it offered an opportunity to start something completely new and different. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we have to embrace change, and I’m excited for this one!

What did the word ‘franchise’ mean to you before you came across We Love Pets?

For me, it meant an opportunity to have my own business, with an established brand and support network. Almost like a ready-made business in a box.

What was your day to day like in your previous role?

I’m still in my “previous role,” actually! My husband and I own a business in the education sector, and we plan to continue running it. Currently my day to day consists of sending emails and making phone calls, but prior to COVID-19 I was able to visit schools and meet one-on-one with students and educators. Unfortunately, all of that is done virtually now.

What was the final straw for leaving your previous job?

My situation is a bit unique since I’m still running my primary business, but my “final straw,” so to speak was two-fold: the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impending changes of Brexit really influenced me to venture out into a new territory. I currently work with international foreign exchange students, a large percentage of whom come from the EU, and as a result of the circumstances, my entire business model has changed. Because of this, I was presented with a choice of expanding my current business, or making a new start, and I chose the latter.

How long had you been thinking about changing your career?

There were three major events that transpired this year that really made me start to think about expanding my career. Obviously, the current COVID-19 pandemic affected our business as it has many others, and in tandem with the ongoing Brexit negotiations, it got me thinking it might be time for a change. When our lovely Cocker Spaniel, Bella, was given a terminal diagnosis, my perspective on animals and pets was completely altered. She was our first family pet, and I underestimated just how much we would love her – when she died it was like losing one of my children. Her passing really inspired my interest in owning a pet care franchise.

Do you have any pets of your own?

Yes! When we received Bella’s diagnosis, we prepared ourselves by getting another puppy. Rosie is a 4.5-month-old, chocolate brown Cocker Spaniel who we absolutely adore, and spoil! We’ve actually nicknamed her “Diva Dog,” and “Mariah” (after Mariah Carey).

What do you love most about your area?

I think what I love most is the fact that we’re surrounded by beautiful countryside and lovely villages! There are plenty of nice walks in the area, like Great Ashby District Park, but nothing beats visiting one of the village pub gardens with friends in the summer. Plus, the train to London is only 30 minutes, so it’s a nice happy medium between town and country.

What have you done in the past that you think will help you in your new venture?

I think my experience in managing teams of people will really help me in my new role! I’ve been fortunate to work with people from all age groups (students, educators, and host families), so I’m familiar with a broad range of ages, backgrounds, and personality types. My involvement with these different groups helps me connect with almost everyone and form a stronger relationship with them – which I anticipate will benefit me as a WLP branch owner.

What hobbies do you have?

Normally, pre-COVID, I enjoy eating out, going to the theatre, viewing art exhibits, meeting up with my friends, and holidaying in Spain! Of course, most of that has been all but impossible this year, so one of the ways I’ve adapted is by meeting friends for an outdoor dog walk. It’s really nice to take Rosie out, and catch up with a friend.

What’s an interesting/fun fact about yourself?

One of the most interesting facts about me is that I was supposed to deliver my second son on live television, for the program “City Hospital.” I had a caesarean scheduled, and they asked if I would be willing to have it filmed, but my son ended up coming six weeks early, so it didn’t pan out (I was honestly quite relieved!). However, he did make a live television debut at ten days old in an interview with Lorraine Kelly.

Which are your favourite animals?

Dogs, I absolutely love dogs. I love cats too, and we had two before my kids were born, but dogs win out because they’re such an integral part of the family. We love taking ours on walks and family outings, and even away on holiday!