It never fails. There’s always some sort of signature moment when I hit the road to visit with a client. Sometimes it’s the celebration of a big PR win. Sometimes it’s a well-timed joke at dinner (or a good-natured prank played on an unsuspecting co-worker). But my recent trip to Northern New Jersey had a moment that will be a hard one to beat, because it involved puppies!
K9 Resorts Daycare & Luxury Hotel has long been one of my favorite clients at No Limit Agency. I’d be lying if I said that working with photos and videos of cute dogs every week isn’t part of the charm. But, the real reason why K9 is such a great client is the business acumen and the unique franchise offering and value the brand has developed.
K9 Resorts provides resort-style accommodations for dogs as well as doggie daycare in state-of-the-art facilities, designed to exceed all kennel industry standards.
Over the last 14 years, K9 has grown from a small family startup into a multi-award-winning luxury pet hotel that garners top ratings annually across its home state of New Jersey. The brand has also consistently been honored by multiple publications within the top three best luxury pet boarding facilities nationwide.
Those top ratings are no accident: they’ve been built since day one by the brand’s founders, brothers Steven and Jason Parker. As teens growing up in Fanwood, NJ, their parents denied them a dog of their own, so the entrepreneurial pair opened a professional pet-sitting business to prove they were not only willing, but also ready to care for a dog. That business not only became a highly profitable enterprise that they sold for a six-figure sum in 2006, but the revenue from the sale became the expansion fuel for their burgeoning K9 Resorts business.
In 2010, the Parkers made the decision to share the knowledge and expertise they had developed with other pet lovers and further grow the company through franchising. With the guidance of SMB Franchise Advisors, one of the top franchise consulting firms in the country, K9 sold its first franchise in March 2011 to a long-time customer, and the brand has continued to grow since. Now boasting eight locations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and an additional 10 locations now in immediate development nationwide, K9’s founders saw a need to bring the brand’s key players together.
After attending dozens of pet care conferences and the International Franchise Association conference every year, the Parkers knew how valuable such gatherings are. With that in mind, the two put staff to work assembling K9 Resorts’ first annual conference, bringing together franchisees, vendors, suppliers and expert speakers at Giovanna’s Restaurant in the brand’s hometown of Fanwood-Plainfield, NJ.
With nearly 80 people in attendance, the day began with a “state of the company” address from Co-Founder and Co-CEO Steven Parker, who highlighted the brand’s exciting developments in 2016, from the signing of new franchise locations in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania to the signing of a new state law in New Jersey championed by the Parkers that eliminated an archaic ban on surfaces like artificial turf at pet care facilities. The Parkers also honored franchisees Andy & Darcie Lubalin, franchisees of K9 Resorts of Fairfield, NJ as the top revenue earners in the K9 system during the brand’s first annual awards ceremony.
Keynote speakers Harry Loyle and Robin Bennett then spoke to the group, addressing two different but equally critical parts of the K9 Resorts business model.
Loyle, who serves as Managing Director of Cybeck Capital Partners and past Treasurer of the International Franchise Association (IFA), outlined to the group what successful franchisees should be focused on in a presentation entitled “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Franchisees.” He also delved deeper into the brand’s business model in a presentation entitled “Puppy Upper or Doggy Downer: Is Owning Your Own Business Worth It?”
Loyle’s conclusion was clear: K9 Resorts’ well-established business model has put the brand in a unique position for success. The unparalleled support system, strong franchisee earnings and rapid return on investment, as outlined in K9’s franchise disclosure document, have made K9’s franchise offering among the most competitive in the industry, and a great choice for business minded entrepreneurs eager to own a successful pet care franchise.
Of course, high quality pet care is also part of the equation of success for K9 Resorts, and Certified Professional Dog Trainer, author and consultant Robin Bennett wasted no time at the conference expressing her admiration for the brand’s tried and true methods. Bennett, author of All About Dog Daycare, the number one selling reference on opening a dog daycare and owner of one of the largest dog training companies in Virginia, spoke about ways to more effectively train dogs in a daycare setting. Dogs who aren’t used to being around other dogs can present unique challenges when housed together. But, K9 Resorts’ model eliminates many of those problems, because dogs have the right amount of comfortably appointed space to run and play and individual attention from highly trained staff.
Franchisees also learned from other vendors about recent upgrades in computer software technology to help run their business more effectively, how to best optimize local search engines to better market their locations and how to more effectively utilize media opportunities through PR. I had the privilege of leading a roundtable discussion on PR opportunities, sparking new ideas among franchisees on how to help create new outreach opportunities for the brand.
The evening closed with a vendor fair, featuring suppliers from across the pet care industry, a delicious Italian buffet dinner and entertainment from Ken Salaz, renowned New York magician and mentalist.
There’s no substitute for spending time face-to-face with a client. Spending it at such a successful first annual conference made this face-to-fact meeting one of the most memorable yet!