Bill Ippolito has worked in medicine for 17 years, but it’s not his only passion. The physician’s assistant is also an animal lover, and six years ago, he decided to turn that love into a business, becoming an early K9 Resorts franchisee.
Ippolito didn’t partner with K9 Resorts purely out of a desire to work with animals; he was also eager to own his own business.
“I was at a crossroads,” Ippolito said. “I wasn’t sure I wanted to work in medicine for the rest of my career, and I was asking myself what I wanted to do instead.”
Ippolito’s girlfriend, whom he would later marry, has a brother who is friends with Steven and Jason Parker, the co-founders of K9 Resorts, and he recommended Ippolito reach out to the fledgling franchise brand.
“He knew I loved animals and that I was looking for a career I could have a little more control over,” Ippolito said. “He told me K9 had a great concept, and if I liked it, I could buy a franchise and take it wherever I wanted.”
Ippolito met the Parkers, and they quickly hit it off. “Bill is a great guy, and we knew right away he’d be a great fit,” said Jason Parker. Still, Ippolito didn’t want to jump in without comparing brands, so he set about researching other concepts.
“I looked at a couple of other pet-boarding businesses, but I didn’t like the concepts,” Ippolito said. “Most of them did crate-boarding, which I don’t like. K9 has cage-free boarding for dogs, with an actual room instead of just a crate.”
Settled on K9 Resorts, Ippolito purchased his franchise location, The Parkers worked closely with Ippolito to make sure he had the perfect location and proper financing, and because Ippolito was not ready to completely leave his work as a physician’s assistant.
“I was not in a rush, and I wanted it to be perfect,” Ippolito said. “This is my first business venture, so I needed a lot of guidance from start to finish. Jason and Steven helped me find a great location and get financed, and they connected me with the right people along every step of the way.”
Ippolito’s K9 Resorts opened in East Brunswick, New Jersey in April 2015, and he quickly found what he was looking for from the brand.
“Working with animals is extremely therapeutic and satisfying,” he said, “and it’s a great industry. It’s nearly recession-proof, and it doesn’t require much of a financial burden. I got into this because I wanted to own my own business, and K9 allowed me to do that without having to step away completely from medicine.”
Running the business has required a lot of hard work, Ippolito admits, but he says K9’s corporate team continues to provide dedicated support to make sure his operation is successful.
“Opening any new business takes a lot of work, and a lot of patience,” Ippolito said. “K9 has been there the whole time, providing hands-on, personal assistance. Not only has the support itself been invaluable to me, it’s reassuring to see how invested the Founders are in their franchisees.”
Three years on, Ippolito’s business has grown to include 16 employees and a client list of roughly 3,000 names. Even with that growth, Ippolito says he only works at K9 about three or four days a week.
“I love working with our clients and taking care of the dogs, but I still dedicate about three full days a week to medicine,” he said. “My wife was working on Sundays for a while, but we just had our third child, so she hasn’t been working recently.”
That freedom to divide his time as he chooses is one of the key benefits of K9 Resorts’ model, which Jason says Ippolito has mastered.
“Bill follows the system,” Jason said. “That’s what has made him so successful. When it comes to franchising, I am a firm believer that the closer you follow the franchisor’s playbook, the more successful you will be. Bill comes up with great ideas, and he always runs them by us to get our opinion. It’s a strong partnership. That open line of communication and willingness to follow the model, that’s exactly what you want in a franchisee, and that’s why Bill has been one of our best owners.”