Partners Zoe and James have the ‘leads’ to the Chippenham branch and are ready for business.
‘Life is now more about enjoying what I do and making the most of everyday.’
Welcome to your new We Love Pets franchise!
Thanks! It’s all happened rather quickly. We weren’t going to ‘officially’ open until August 1st, but had to start earlier as there is such a need for reliable dog walking in the area.
Were you ready? Did you have to do it alongside another job?
I was ready, my contract with my previous employers had ended at the beginning of the year, which gave me the opportunity to reflect and consider what job I really wanted to wake up to every day. James remains contracting full-time, at the moment!
Is everything down to you? Who’s helping?
No, not at all. The help and support from head office, Jo and Laura, is priceless, plus James’ aim is to work alongside me in the business eventually, so he helps whenever he can and is enormously supportive. I bring a lot of skills to the position already, as I have always been self-employed, so I know how to manage my time and motivate myself, but anything I am not sure about Jo and Laura have the experience of supporting many franchisees so every question is answered with a wealth of knowledge behind it.
So, have you always worked outside?
I’ve always worked inside! for local authorities, behind a computer, so being outside is completely different. When my contract ended at the beginning of the year I saw an advert for a local dog walker with We Love Pets and knew I’d enjoy that, we’ve always had a dog (Daniel), and a cat (Meg – male – don’t ask), so I’ve got lots of time for animals – who hasn’t?
From dog walker to franchise owner, how did that happen?
I was dog walking for Trevor (owner of WLP in RWB) and he mentioned that they covered the Chippenham territory too, but had been unable to expand due to travel time (e.g. covering in periods of holidays) and being able to effectively manage a team of dog walkers at that distance. Chippenham is closer to me than RWB, so Trevor and I discussed me contacting all previous Chippenham enquiries to see if they still needed some support… and they did!
Before we knew it there were a lot of people in Chippenham being converted into clients that it became apparent there was a real need for a consistent business in that area.
Trevor and I met with Jo and we discussed me becoming the franchise owner for that territory. Trevor was delighted as it meant he no longer felt that he was letting anyone down in that area and I get to run my own business doing something I love!
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
I guess in a way I have always been my own boss as a contractor, but working within a company you never feel completely in control of your own time. I had previously looked at a franchising opportunity, not in the pet care industry, and went along to an initial meeting. How that didn’t put me off for life I don’t know, but if anything it made me realise just how much you get from a WLP franchise.
WLP ethos, proven track record and interest in me showed me that this was it. I also read lots about franchising.
One of the best things about WLP franchising is you can talk to the other franchisees, you have access to vet support and head office at any time, which is priceless! Not just a faceless large head office – everyone has been part of every aspect of the business, so they know exactly what you’re going through.
Plans for the future
- James to join the business full time
- Continue to grow the client base
- Would hope to take on staff – James will be the first ‘member of staff’ and his work is very flexible, so he can come out to support the business when we need him.
I know I can cope with the job, it’s now dealing with the booking and admin side of things, which is a focus for me right now and as with anything new, it can seem daunting, but I know I have Laura at the end of a phone, or email, to help me with all of that until it becomes second nature.
What advice would you give anyone thinking of finding out more about a WLP franchise?
You’ll be taking in so much information and it can feel a little overwhelming, but just keep asking questions until you know it’s the right thing for you and, if you’re nearby, come and spend a day with me to see what my day involves. I’d love to meet you.
Zoe and James offer Dog Walking and Pet Sitting services covering Chippenham, Calne, Malmesbury and the surrounding area.