While working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic, Darren realised that a better work-life balance is possible! When he was expected to return to working full-time in an office again, he knew it was the right time to follow his dream of business ownership. Now the director of We Love Pets Mansfield, Darren has time and flexibility to do the things he really enjoys.
Why did you choose a franchise over setting up your own business?
I weighed my options; opening a franchise versus opening up a business on my own, and I felt like a franchise was the ideal half-way between working for a company and being self-employed. A franchise offers a tried and tested business model that’s scalable and offers support, professional training and multiple assets, and We Love Pets was unique in that it stood out from the competition!
Why did you choose WLP?
Compared to other franchises, We Love Pets had more national coverage, seemed more professional, and felt really welcoming from the start. Speaking to Ryan was great, and he moved along at my pace – which is super-fast. Ryan then put me in touch with Tracey from WLP Reading East, and we had a great conversation for nearly two hours and I was impressed that they both gave me so much of their time and attention.
Did you look at any other franchises?
I did look at a couple of other franchises, specifically Digs for Dogs and Animals at Home, but I didn’t look outside of the pet care industry.
What did the word ‘franchise’ mean to you before you came across We Love Pets?
I’ve worked with franchise businesses in the past, so I was familiar with the concept of a singular brand and streamlined services offered across multiple locations. But I hadn’t ever considered a franchise for pet care!
What was your day to day like in your previous role?
Before Covid, it meant getting up early to walk my dog, Dexter, then drop him off with my parents and have an hour-long commute into the office. I would do the reverse in the evening, and it left me with no time or energy to spend doing the things I enjoyed! During the pandemic I began working from home, and that was a lot better for my work-life balance, but I still spent my days in back-to-back meetings, replying to emails and fielding phone calls. It was okay, but very unrewarding.
What was the final straw for leaving your previous job?
Like I mentioned before, the commute wasn’t ideal, and I didn’t enjoy the work I did. When the company started bringing us back into the office, I asked to work part-time from home but was told it wouldn’t be possible – despite having worked without issue, from home, fully for the six months prior. I realised I was in my mid-30’s, stuck in a job I hate, and decided it was time for a change.
How long had you been thinking about changing your career?
I’d considered it off and on for the last year or two, but I had a comfortable life and a well-paid job, so I was hesitant to take the jump.
Do you have any pets of your own?
Yep! I have a 6-year-old Beagle called Dexter. He’s an absolute idiot, but I love him. He’s my shadow, my best friend and I wouldn’t be without him for anything.
What do you love most about your area?
I’m really lucky that there are so many nice places to walk, just near where I live. Everyday Dexter and I find a different park or woodland to explore, just to keep things varied. When we have more time and travel isn’t restricted we like to go on longer walks in the Peak District which is super close by.
What have you done in the past that you think will help you in your new venture?
While in university I joined the Royal Navy as an officer, and the experience taught me a lot about leadership, courage, respect, integrity and loyalty, amongst other things. Since then I’ve had quite a varied career, covering multiple sectors, but primarily in planning and supply chain management. My experiences in these industries have given me a really well rounded set of transferable skills.
What hobbies do you have?
I absolutely love food, and I really enjoy cooking. I’m vegan, and I like finding or creating new vegan recipes. I’m actually in the process of building a food blog! Other hobbies include traveling and spending time with friends – often in the form of playing board games.
Which are your favourite animals?
Beagles (or dogs, generally) are number one! But there are so many different animals and they’re all equally unique and lovable. I especially like pigs as they’re super intelligent and similar to dogs in a lot of ways!
What’s your biggest achievement in life?
Honestly, there are a lot of things I’ve done that I’m proud of. I was the first in my family to go to university, so earning a degree in law (while also being dyslexic) is high on my achievements list! I also consider buying a house and being a (semi)functioning adult most of the time something to be proud of. And as cheesy as it may sound, having the courage to change my career path and start my own business is pretty huge; most of my life has been structured and planned, so this is a big jump!
What do you think will be the best part of your job as a We Love Pets franchisee owner?
The thing I’m most looking forward to is being excited about the work I do each day and actually enjoying it! I’ll no longer be a corporate number, and I’ll get to help people on a personal level.