The Upbeat K9 was founded in Boston in 2016 and began franchising shortly after. Two years later, the fledgling dog-training brand has established franchise centers in seven markets across five states, with two more in development, including the brand’s first international location in Ontario.
The Upbeat K9 offers a unique training model that includes owners in the training process, helping to develop and strengthen the bond between pets and their owners. That method has proven attractive to dog owners in states from Florida to Wisconsin, seeding brand awareness and demand across each market the brand has entered. Likewise, the business has been equally appealing to the entrepreneurs who have helped satisfy that demand by opening new Upbeat K9 locations.
Trent Steele, an Upbeat K9 owner in Knoxville, Tennessee, says the franchise was a natural fit for him.
“I adopted this Weimaraner named Alex that had been in rescue for a while and no one wanted. I love to kayak, and I spend a lot of time on the rivers around here, so I started teaching Alex how to swim. Eventually, I turned that into a club, and I was helping a group of people train their dogs to swim,” Steele said. “I was working in the restaurant business, but I had a feeling I could do this for a living. When I heard about The Upbeat K9, I decided to make the leap, and business has been non-stop ever since.”
Matthew Bohn, a longtime small-business owner in Dayton, Ohio, had watched The Upbeat K9 since its founding, and he says he decided to get involved as soon as a franchise opportunity opened up.
“I’m friends with one of The Upbeat K9’s founders. I watched the company startup in Boston,” he said. “As it was developing they began talking about franchising. I was watching the whole process carefully. About a year and a half ago they had a franchise opportunity available and I decided I wanted to be involved.”
Early this year, The Upbeat K9 hired Apex Franchise Development Group to help The Upbeat K9 ramp up its franchising efforts. Bohn says the franchise’s recent growth is due in large part to that partnership.
“The franchise was doing well, but it was growing a little slower than the original founders had hoped,” Bohn said. “Apex really helped move things along. We’ve seen a lot more inquiries and people looking at the business than we did before Apex.”
According to Bohn, Apex provided a comprehensive development strategy for The Upbeat K9, but the biggest benefit of the partnership came from Apex’s dedicated sales team.
“The salesforce Apex provided was the biggest thing,” he said. “The founders wanted to stay focused on running the business and not making sales, so having a team of people working to sell new franchises across the country was a major factor in our growth.”
“One of my primary goals is to open more locations,” says Trent Steele, Knoxville, Tennessee franchisee. “I just need to make sure I have a really well-running machine first. The Upbeat K9 is really involved in the community in each of its markets, so I don’t want to start a new location unless I can be sure it’s going to be great.”
As the franchise grows, Bohn and Steele both say they plan to expand their own operations as well.
Bohn says he plans to ramp up just as soon as he has the staff to handle the amount of incoming business he already has.
“I’ve got a six-month wait for any new client who wants to train with me, and my trainer has a three-week backlog,” he said. “We’re going to bring on new trainers, but it takes some time to get them up and running at the level we expect. Eventually, we plan to open multiple locations throughout the area.
In the second half of 2018, The Upbeat K9 is planning new openings in numerous other states and the franchise will continue to work with Apex to expand their opportunity into new markets across the country.