Top Players in Franchise Development: Jason Parker
Top Players in Franchise Development: Jason Parker

The Co-Founder of K-9 Resorts Daycare & Luxury Hotel, Jason Parker, shares his advice as a wildly successful pet care industry veteran.

Whether by setting up lemonade stands in elementary school or selling glow sticks at his middle school dances, Jason Parker has always found himself driven by the quest to make life more profitable. In middle school, he and his brother Steven often professed their love of pets, but were never given a green light from their parents to own a dog of their own. So the brothers devised a way to get around that “no dogs allowed” house rule.

In 1999, at just 12 and 14 years old, the Parker duo created a professional dog walking service, which not only became a highly profitable enterprise that they sold for a six-figure sum, but that revenue became the expansion fuel for their thriving K-9 Resorts doggie daycare and hotel business. In January 2005, K-9 Resorts Daycare & Luxury Hotel was born.

The Parkers were able to expand their original location every few months until they were completely maxed out of space. They quickly realized that their concept had massive room for growth beyond what they could handle on their own. That’s when they begin exploring the franchising option. Since then, franchising has allowed them to easily replicate their proven business model, and expansion has shifted into overdrive.

1851 Franchise recently spoke with Jason Parker about where K-9 Resorts Daycare and Luxury Hotel is now, and what their plan is for continuing to expand.

What makes K-9 Resorts’ franchise development process tick?

First and foremost, our brand’s concept is very unique, which allows people to respond to it differently. People are very passionate about pets, so when someone who is unhappy with their current career comes to us, they are already intrigued with the pet care industry and ultimately want to choose a business they can be in for themselves, but not by themselves.

What is also different for us is our overall approach to franchise development. Since we’re a high end brand that can’t locate just anywhere, we need to be especially strategic when partnering with franchisees, which is why our recent private equity investment is especially important for us. During our first five years of franchising K-9 Resorts, we focused primarily on the Northeast since that’s where we were already located. That is typically what brands will do – focus on specific areas before they can build a team to help continue the expansion. However, with our PE investment, we now have the resources and infrastructure to do the opposite. Our strategy now is to build a team that can help us expand throughout the entire country, and we believe our newest team members will allow us to find the perfect partners and locations for K-9’s development even in cities and states we haven’t touched yet.

What have been some of your brand’s major milestones?

The first major milestone that comes to mind was building to nine units in just five years with over a million dollar investment. That’s when we knew this concept couldn’t be stopped. This year, we proudly attracted private equity and a multi-million dollar investment for minority share of the company.

What are you most proud of?

Mostly I am proud of the brand itself, what it is and what it stands for. K-9 Resorts is currently the number one rated pet care franchise in the country, and we’re looking forward to growing into communities all around the United States.

What specific steps do your most successful franchisees take in order to build and grow their respective businesses? And what do you do to set them up for success?

Our most successful franchisees are the ones who are following the system as closely as possible. We help with everything including real estate, marketing and working with firms, and we’re giving them a playbook laying out exactly what they need to do to be successful. Most of our franchisees do follow our system very closely, but occasionally entrepreneurial spirits will take over, and they’ll want to try things their own way; we’re always open to new ideas, but franchising is a proven, successful model, and we always prefer to weigh our past experiences into whether or not we accept a new idea or stick with what works.

Marketing also plays a big factor in local successes. We’ve tested many different ideas and carefully tracked what has worked and what doesn’t work for the K-9 brand. Our biggest word of advice to franchisees is to trust the process and don’t spend time trying to reinvent the wheel.

What are your goals for K-9 Resorts in the next few years and how do you plan to get there?

Our goal for the next five years is to have between 80 and 100 units across the country. We’ve put together a plan through our Private Equity deal, including hiring key employees and advertising heavily, that should help us get there. It’s only been six months since we signed the PE deal and launched our development plan, but we’re already on track to hit our goal.

We’re excited to be growing across the country, and we’re looking for people who are interested in the pet care industry and who want to follow a proven franchise model. We support each of our franchisees and are ready to take interested candidates along for the ride.