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A Partnership Between Dog Training Elite and Raintree Led to Six Signed Franchise Agreements in 6 Weeks

The franchise sales company has consistently put forward strong candidates who are serious about Dog Elite Training’s business opportunity and will help the brand transition from a family-and-friends enterprise into a robust franchise system.

Dog Training Elite was founded in Salt Lake City about 40 years ago by John Mestas, who wanted to utilize his experience in the field to create a positive training model. The brand succeeded in this mission through organic growth, but the leadership team is now eager to scale the business with the right franchise owners. 

Today, Dog Training Elite is run by Mestas’ daughter, CEO Kelley Rosequist. The brand has five franchise owners who cover 23 territories, and those franchise owners are primarily family and friends. The first franchisee was Mestas’ son, who opened a franchise in Arizona in 2013. Rosequist followed his lead and opened her own franchise in 2015. 

“Dog Training Elite has enjoyed a family-and-friends growth model, and everyone is wildly successful and doing well, but we wanted to scale the franchise opportunity and struggled with finding the right people,” Rosequist said. “We are a very people-focused company, and most people who want to train dogs don’t want to work with people, so that has been a huge challenge for us.” 

At the suggestion of their internet marketing company, Dog Training Elite reached out to Denver-based franchise sales consultancy Raintree, who works closely with emerging brands as they look to expand their footprints through franchising. The consultancy is incredibly selective about the franchise brands it chooses to work with, which makes its recent partnership with Dog Training Elite all the more special. The two companies began talks in June 2019 and, after doing preliminary information gathering, officially began the sales process in September 2019. 

Raintree’s interest in working with Dog Training Elite stemmed from three key factors: demand for franchise opportunities in the pet space, a low investment and strong existing unit economics. 

“Raintree is seeing an increasing demand for pet brands in the franchising space,” Co-Founder and CEO Brent Dowling said. “The average pet owner is investing more money in their pet. They want to make sure their pets have great lives and are treated like real family members. Dog training is becoming more and more a part of that. There are not a ton of pet franchises available under $100,000 in this industry, so Dog Training Elite opens up the franchise opportunity for a pool of candidates who cannot afford a doggy daycare or a pet retail model.”

The startup costs for a Dog Training Elite franchise range from as little as $75,650 to $248,850. Also, the brand does not require franchisees to operate out of a brick and mortar location. 

Additionally, the brand’s existing franchise owners exhibited strong economic performance, which is significant for an emerging brand. 

“That strong unit performance is something we always carefully evaluate for a new partner,” Dowling said. “We do forensic accounting to make sure there is proof and replication and real evidence of the success of existing franchise owners and that they have a strong return on investment (ROI).” 

Dog Training Elite certainly appreciates Raintree’s selective approach to partnering with new clients. In fact, this was one of the most appealing aspects of working with the franchise sales consultancy.

“We had to sell ourselves as well,” Rosequist said. “I appreciate the fact that Raintree doesn’t take on just any brand. It was really important to Dog Training Elite to work with a company that would really be invested in our success.” 

The careful path to starting the relationship has paid off. Within the first six weeks of the partnership, Dog Training Elite sold five territories to a Denver-based franchisee and one to an Atlanta-based franchisee who, after opening her first territory, now wants to open three more locations. The brand has a virtual discovery day coming up and Rosequist recently had phone calls with four candidates who are far along in the discovery process. 

“The longer I work in franchise sales the more I realize that it’s not so much the horse but the jockey that determines the winning brands,” Dowling said. “Kelley and her team are fantastic. Raintree really enjoys a strong connection with them.”

Rosequist has been impressed with the caliber of franchise candidates Raintree has presented, and she appreciates the frequent communication she has with Raintree, particularly with Director of Franchise Development Kyle Christie and Brand Manager Charlotte Wagner — whether it’s about getting updates on progress, reviewing new candidates or simply celebrating successes together. Rosequist also appreciates how Raintree has taken over the process of screening prospective franchisees. 

“We talk at least once a week and do regular deep-dive calls once a month and discuss everything from how and where money is being spent to how leads are coming through,” Rosequist said. “Raintree is just aggressively going after those leads for us. We haven’t had a single month where we haven’t had fresh leads come in.” 

Dog Training Elite plans to continue working with Raintree to achieve its goals, which include selling at least 12 territories in 2020. Rosequist noted that the brand is already halfway there, even in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. 

“When we first started the relationship, it was a stepping stone between needing that kind of support and doing it on our own, but the relationship has been so beneficial we plan to keep it going for longer,” Rosequist said. “The Raintree team is very invested in our brand, and it’s been really fun to work with them.”

To learn more about Raintree, visit

*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.