‘Bills still need paying and groceries don’t buy themselves!’
I’d been toying with the idea of running my own business, on and off, for some years but had a very secure job with a good salary.
Like a lot of businesses, the internet has had a big effect on the job I am leaving. Commoditisation of the products I have been selling has meant a reduction in the margin that can be achieved. Coupled with the lingering death of the High Street due to the rise of online commerce, this makes me think that the glory days of the company I am leaving are behind it. I’m almost 53 and I thought this a good time to get out whilst I still have enough years to do something else. However, 22 years at one company makes one a little institutionalised and I couldn’t picture myself as an employee elsewhere, hence the decision to become a franchisee.
Stepping out from a job I have had for almost 22 years, and could have had almost certainly until retirement, is a very scary thing to do. Bills still need paying and groceries don’t buy themselves!
Until I became aware of We Love Pets I didn’t really know what sort of business I could do well in.
We Love Pets are a family business, which is what I have been involved with for virtually all of my working life. They set high standards and have good ethics and morals, which is so important to me.
They realise that for their business to grow they have to choose the correct franchisees and invest in them. All of this appealed very much.
‘It certainly didn’t feel like a job interview’
My partner and I spent three hours talking face to face with Ryan and he explained in detail what the business would involve. It certainly didn’t feel like a job interview but I’m sure, from his point of view, he had to be sure he was getting someone who would espouse the brand values.
In the early days, it’ll be daunting finding potential customers and converting them to solid repeat business. Then hiring staff – something I have never done before.
But, I’ve been in sales one way and another almost since I left school so generating business from cold is not new to me. However, the pet care industry is, so I guess I will have to use my soft skills there.
Regarding hiring people, I know the training from Head Office will cover this and I know I have Head Office and all of the other franchisees to rely on to give me good hints and advice.
‘Once I have had the training and am up and running, my worries will recede’
I’ve never thought I can’t be a successful We Love Pets franchisee but the fear of the unknown is very real. I’m sure once I have had the training and am up and running, my worries will recede.
I’ve spent the last 22 years selling retail consumables; till rolls, price labels, carrier bags and the like to some of the bigger names in the retail and restaurant sectors. There’s an old saying in sales that people buy from people they like. I like to think I’m friendly and approachable and do for my customers what I say I’m going to do. I think that’s going to be a winning factor in making my branch a success.
‘I look around and see people like me starting businesses every day. If they can, then so can I.’
Ryan has told me he thinks I’m an ideal candidate to be a We Love Pets franchisee. That’s boosted my confidence greatly. I look around and see people like me starting businesses every day. If they can, then so can I.
‘A very short drive away is the Peak District National Park’
Originally, I’m from Lincolnshire where the landscape is very flat. I came to Sheffield in 1989 for a job and just never got around to leaving! I met my partner Matt here; we’ve bought a house and built our life together. The city itself is amazing, full of life, culture and interesting people, and yet a very short drive away is the Peak District National Park, a wonderful open space that seems to go on forever. I’m sure there will be some great dog walks there.
Being able to create a business from the ground up is something I’m very much looking forward to. Knowing that I have the chance to build something from nothing is very exciting for me.
Obviously, I envisage a lot of hard work and long hours in the beginning but the flexibility in the times I actually work is something I’m looking forward to.
‘Tonks is definitely a Daddy’s boy!’
We have two silver tabby Maine Coon cats – brother and sister Tonks and Willow.
They are indoor cats but we have built a run in the garden for them which is connected to the house via a tunnel along the garden wall. We didn’t want to let them roam free but couldn’t bear the thought of them not being able to get fresh air. Although large, they are a very friendly breed and will follow you around the house like a dog would. Tonks is definitely a daddy’s boy and would spend most of his time curled up on my knee if I let him. Willow, although smaller is sassier and definitely the boss of the pair.
I have had cats all of my adult life and had the usual small animals (rabbits, gerbils etc) when I was younger. I used to walk my boss’s dog at lunchtimes some years ago and have also been a volunteer walker at a local animal shelter in the past. We have wanted a dog for ourselves for a very long time but, due to us both working full time, thought it unfair to leave them home alone all day. Now with this new career, we will have the chance to choose a dog of our own and I’m sure it will get lots of great walks alongside my We Love Pets customers.
Finally, Dave, if you could sum up what franchising means in one sentence, what would it be:
The chance to own your own business with the support of an organisation behind you.
Find out more about Dave’s new dog walking and pet sitting business in North Sheffield and Rotherham.