‘Being able to manage my own time to fit around a family life, being outside and with animals. What more could anyone want?’
We caught up with Jackie on route to meet Jo and Ryan to map out her training plan before the big opening in the second week of October.
What’s on the agenda before you ‘open for business’?
Today I am meeting with Jo in Chippenham to begin my three days of training, which will involve going through the business side of things. I’ll then have a day with another franchisee and then an accountant.
In addition to that, I have a few days day at Lackham College with Ryan, to complete my dog walking qualification and a small animals course and will complete my pet first aid training too.
Once that’s all done I’ll complete my City & Guilds dog walking then pet sitting qualifications.
I’m going to be more than ready! This was all part of the pull towards a We Love Pets franchise, everything is taken care of – elements that I may not have considered had I jumped into running my own business from scratch until it was too late.
What made you think about a pet care business?
I first considered it a couple of years ago. We needed pet boarding for our own dogs, which we usually manage ourselves or with family, but on this occasion we had to look elsewhere. We found it very hard to find somewhere we felt would be right for our dogs.
Then, when my husband started a new job a couple of years ago he had to be in the office every day and my job meant I was out most of the day too, so we had to find dog day care. I wasn’t overly happy with the places we viewed, as there were always lots of dogs running around, and many local dog walkers pack walked. We felt there wasn’t a service in our area that would offer the same care I give my dogs, there seemed to be gap.
We Love Pets have a policy never to walk more than 4 dogs at a time, but weren’t covering my area, so a lightbulb moment came about.
Will you be starting the franchise alongside another job?
I’ll be going full time into the franchise immediately, I made the decision to put all my energy into one thing.
My last day in my previous job was three days ago – I am so looking forward to a complete change and to do something very very different.
What was your job previously? Can any of the skills from there be transferred?
For 23 years I was a social worker, in a child protection team which, as you can imagine, is a very stressful, demanding role. Despite the complete change, I believe there are always elements of any job or experience that can be transferred – time management, organisational skills, communication skills are just a few.
Is everything down to you?
It’s all me, my husband works full time in his job and of course, we need a wage coming in to help with the initial few months during start-up.
Who’s in your household?
Our children have now left home so it’s my husband, Gary and me, along with our three dogs; Cleo who’s a collie cross; she’s a rescue, so her age is ‘around’ 14, then there’s Alfie, a Border Collie, who’s 5. Alfie is quite an anxious boy in new situations, so we cater for that part of his personality to avoid him getting stressed. Then our newest addition is Skye, she’s a Sprocker Spaniel and just 9 months old.
“You know when something’s right.”
When did you first contact WLP
I first made contact with Ryan around the beginning of July 2017. I then met Jo and Ryan around mid-July and handed my notice in at the end of July! You know when something’s right.
I’d looked at a couple of other pet care franchises, but never quite felt certain. After speaking to Ryan I instantly thought ‘this is it’ and the website too is really engaging, the professionalism comes through in every area.
I also did my homework on franchising, and looked at the BFA website, which WLP are accredited with.
What questions were you burning to ask when you met the head office team?
My big thing was checking there was still a gap in the market, although I did know from my own experience, there are of course other franchises and sole traders doing this, so I needed to know if it was feasible, financially viable and needed.
The evidence from the previous franchisees success’ made me feel very confident.
What have friends and family been like about your new adventure?
Everyone has genuinely been so supportive and they think it’s great. They know how much I love being outdoors, and my dogs are everything now the children have left home, so this is definitely right for me.
They’re also pleased I have at last made the decision to make this change, they know it’s something I’ve been looking at doing for a while.
It’s probably early days, as there’s so much to do before you start, but do you have any long-term plans for the franchise?
At the moment I just want to get started, but my long term goal is to develop the business so I can take on staff within the local community. Gary, my husband, would also like to get more involved as we grow.
“I know it’s going to be hard work, but it’s going to be so rewarding.”
What worries you?
Lots! I want it to work, I want to be able to make it work. Having never been my own boss before there’s a sense of ‘can I’ and coping with the complete change. A change in routine will take time to adjust to, but it’s also exciting.
I know it’s going to be hard work, but it’s going to be so rewarding.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking of finding out more about a We Love Pets franchise?
To look into what franchising is all about, do a little bit of homework about what you need to look for in a franchise. If I hadn’t have done that I may have ended up with a franchise that didn’t fit my ethos and beliefs.
Talk to other people within that franchise who are already established.
Look at the support available, Inc. ongoing support.
What is the one thing you’re looking forward to the most about being your own boss?
Being able to manage my own time to fit around a family life, being outside and with animals. What more could anyone want?
Jackie – We Love Pets Salisbury