At 19, Sophie is We Love Pets’ youngest ever franchisee. With years of pet care experience and employment as a WLP dog walker previously, plus an unbridled enthusiasm for all things canine, Sophie’s Eastbourne branch is our one to watch for the future…
Why did you choose a franchise over setting up your own business?
For me, starting a franchise was a much safer and more supported route into business than starting out completely on my own. For a start-up fee and then a small on-going fee, I have received more support, training and resources than I ever would have been able to create by myself – this will be the key to my franchise being successful!
What did the word ‘franchise’ mean to you before you came across We Love Pets?
Before discovering We Love Pets, I have only ever associated the word ‘franchise’ with worldwide businesses such as McDonalds, KFC and Dominos, I think it is incredible how We Love Pets have built a brand so strong that we now stand at the top with these huge corporations.
How have We Love Pets made sure you’re the right person to carry the award-winning brand forward?
We Love Pets went through a lot of background checks to ensure they picked the right candidate to become a franchisee. I have worked for another WLP branch for almost a year which made me stand out as I had reliable references from someone who they trust. I also have many years’ experience in owning and working with animals which showed I could carry out the award-winning services that we offer as a brand.
Do you have any pets of your own?
Yes! I own a beautiful 18 month old Golden Retriever called Storm. I also have two cats who are siblings called Buster and Simba. Over the years I have owned dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs and fish!
What do you love most about Eastbourne?
Eastbourne is such a friendly town with a lot of life, there is always something going on here! My favourite part of Eastbourne is the variety of dog walking locations, from the beautiful beaches to the vast Downs and the many woods and parks that can be found all across the area!
What have you done in the past that you think will help you in your new venture?
My first job when I was 14 was as a customer assistant in a local pet shop, I worked here for 4 years and picked up a lot of helpful pet care advice about a huge variety of pets including reptiles and birds. From this, I feel comfortable offering owners pet care advice and tips should they need it. I have also volunteered for two animal charities in my area which gave me hands on work with animals to learn practical skills. One was an animal shelter called Barby Keel, here I helped care for small animals including degus, rats, rabbits and guinea pigs. I also volunteered for The Cinnamon Trust, where I walked dogs for elderly and vulnerable people in my town. I completed up to my silver Duke of Edinburgh award, through this I learnt a lot about perseverance, this can be applied to every aspect of owning my own business, even down to pushing through the hard winter months and grim weather! For almost a year, I have worked for the Bexhill-On-Sea WLP branch, which has given me a huge insight into how the business runs and inspired me to open my own branch.
What does running a business like this mean to you?
Running my own pet care business is everything I have ever dreamed of and more! For as long as I can remember, I have wished of a career working with animals, but it always seemed out of reach, with huge startup costs (for becoming a vet for example through university loans etc) I never thought I would be able to achieve it. That was until I came across We Love Pets! To be able to run my own business at just 19 years old is a huge opportunity and I can’t wait to see what the future holds