Pet Franchises
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If you’re passionate about pets, running a pet franchise can be a great way to support your passion with an attractive, stable and fun income source.

The world of business is always on the move. Almost every industry out there is on the verge of a revolution – one step away from being disrupted. All it takes is one new idea for the entire landscape to undergo a paradigm shift. Despite this, some tenets of doing business are permanent.

Take passion, for example. Without an innate urge to feed it, would we ever see the first car, the first television, the first computer or, for that matter, the first book? While treading on the fences of feasibility, market research and competition, it’s also important to know and understand the role that passion plays in the success of a business. And when it comes to franchising, there’s no better candidate to vouch for this fact than pet franchises.

Running a pet franchise, unlike other forms of franchising we regularly discuss in our blogs, is a delicate proposition. If you can match your customers’ love and passion for their pets, pet franchises have some exciting opportunities for you.

Pet Franchises – Is There Room for One More?

The pet industry in the UK is an interesting phenomenon. The whole idea of selling products and services to pet owners appears to be a frivolous, micro-niche concept – especially to the uninitiated. To dispel this false notion, all you have to do is take a quick look at the numbers.

Pet Franchises

UK National Spending on Pet Services and Products (www.franchise4u.co.uk)

  • As of 2018, approximately 12 million UK households have at least one pet. This means that roughly 45% of all UK households have pets.
  • Quite predictably, dogs and cats are the two most popular pet choices among these households.
  • 26% of all UK households have pet dogs. The total number of pet dogs in the UK is thought to be upwards of 9 million.
  • 18% of all UK households have pet cats. The total number of pet cats in the UK is approximately 8 million.
  • The pet population in the UK has, however, declined from 71 million in 2013 to 51 million in 2018.
  • The overall spending on pet services, care and products, however, has drastically increased in the same period – from £3.77b in 2013 to £4.61b in 2018.

Sources: Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association

Compilation 1

Compilation 2

As can be seen from these numbers, the pet-peripherals industry in the UK is definitely large enough to accommodate innovation and expertise from new businesses. The very fact that pet owners spend thousands of pounds on services and products – from dog treats and cat litters to high-end healthcare and insurance – for their pets should be enough to substantiate these claims.

In short, the good news is – running a pet franchise in the UK will not have you swim against the market currents!

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That’s Well and Good – But What Exactly Do Pet Franchises Do?

Pet franchises come in as many shapes, forms and functions as the pets they aim to service. For the sake of simplicity and order, let’s try to categorise pet franchises into two broad sections:

Pet Services Franchises

This is the most common and popular section of pet franchises in the UK. These franchises are aimed at providing unique services to pet owners in a way that’s replicable and scalable.

Even though pet owners are usually very passionate about their pets, there comes a time when they need help from professionals. This is where franchises providing pet services come into the frame. The basic idea here is to take the hassle out of the equation for pet owners.

Some common examples of pet services franchises in the UK are:

  • Pet handling (dog walking, dog-sitting, dog boarding, etc.)
  • Pet care (veterinarian care, pet grooming, pet medication, etc.)
  • Pet training
  • Pet assistance (pet hygiene maintenance, pet waste removal, etc.)

The scope here is limited only by the imagination – we have already seen pet yoga studios prosper and flourish!

If you have a bright idea (preferably born out of a necessity), you can even think about setting up your own business and having it franchised at a later stage.

Pet Products Franchises

Pet products franchises, in many cases, can also be categorised as retail, high-street franchises. These franchises aim to provide a variety of products to pet owners. Common examples include:

  • Pet foods
  • Pet supplements
  • Pet accessories
  • Pet clothing (yes, really!)
  • Pet safety gear
  • Pet housing

The list just goes on and on. Pet products franchises, when compared to pet services franchises, are more scalable. They are also easier to replicate across categories. So, if you bring to the table some retail experience, these franchises can be a good fit for your interests.

How Much Does It Cost to Buy and Run a Pet Franchise in the UK?

Let’s get to the real issue now – the initial investment and working capital. As you may already know, these are the usual suspects among bottlenecks that make running a franchise business challenging.

The initial investment will depend largely upon the franchisor you choose. A popular franchisor who has a large number of would-be franchisees showing interest each month certainly will cost you more. A quick survey of the available opportunities shows that a small to medium sized pet services franchise can cost you anywhere between £5,000 and £15,000 in initial investment.

This number, however, doesn’t paint the complete picture. In addition to the initial investment that typically covers for franchise fees, know-how, necessary equipment/training and marketing, you will be required to pay for operational costs, royalties, staff salaries, insurance, rent and other incidental expenses. So, it’s safe to say that you can buy and run a pet services franchise in the UK with a total working capital of £20,000 or more.

Pet products franchises tend to cost more, thanks to the larger expenses required to onboard inventory.

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The Earning Potential of Pet Franchises in the UK

As is the case with every business out there, there really is no upper cap on how much you can make. More realistically, however, pet franchises can generate enough profit to become a reasonable source of primary income for the owner.

The first thing to take into account in this regard is the location you want to operate in. The ongoing trends reveal that pet franchises have it easier in urban markets with high concentration of potential customers. Hence, operating such a franchise in a suburb of a mid-sized city can be both affordable and profitable. The tall claims that franchisors tend to make (from £50,000 to £300,000) often come with a series of stipulations and riders. So, it’s more prudent to take a conservative view of the earning potential of a franchise before you invest your hard-earned money into it. A pet franchise operating in a reasonably well-primed territory can break even in 12-30 months.

This is best illustrated with a representative example.

Pet Franchises – How Much Do They Make?

A small-sized dog grooming franchise costs about £12,000 in franchise fees. This one-time investment covers for all the essentials – from training to marketing. In additional, the initial working capital of – let’s say – £10,000 will be required to get the business up and running. Monthly expenses to the tune of further £10,000 to £12,000 mean that you will spend approximately £150,000 by the end of your first year.

Let’s say the territory allocated to you houses 20,000 households. Given the average pet population statistics discussed earlier, this territory can be expected to have approximately 5,000 households with one or more pet dogs. The first-year market penetration of 10% will mean that you will service 500 customers each month during your first year.

Most dog breeds require topical grooming once every four weeks. If you charge £35 per grooming session, you can expect to make £17,500 per month, or £210,000 per year. Discounting the overall investment and operating expenses from this amount, you will be left with £60,000 in profits for the first year.

Please note that this is a representative example, and the actual returns on your investment will vary, based on numerous factors.

Should You Buy a Pet Franchise?

Pet franchises, while not entirely unlike other franchises, are unique in their own right. It takes a different, more personal approach to decide whether they are a good choice for your business endeavours. For starters, you can try asking the following questions of yourself:

  • Are you incredibly passionate about pets?
  • Do you own a pet? Do you identify with the passion your customers have about theirs?
  • Are you ready to follow a business model that’s based solely on organic growth?
  • Are you comfortable with the initial investment that will be required to get started?
  • Do you bring on board any relevant business skills?
  • Do you have what it takes to withstand competition in your territory?
  • Have you ever used the services of similar franchises for your pets? How do you plan on offering a better experience for your potential customers?
  • Have you conducted thorough market research?

Pros and Cons of Buying and Running a Pet Franchise

  • A great way to channel your creative forces and passion
  • Easy to follow templates
  • Established brand value
  • Making new connections, meeting new people, learning the ropes on the go
  • Extremely rewarding work experience
  • Opportunities to innovate
  • Opportunities to create employment
  • Relatively lower investment/working capital required
  • Reach profitability in a matter of months
  • Easy to secure capital
  • Number of stringent rules, regulations, codes, norms and laws to abide by
  • No room for error
  • Extremely personal nature of the business
  • Difficult to scale

Insurance for Pet Franchises

We have already discussed the importance of having in place an adequate insurance cover for franchise businesses in this blog post. Thanks to the nature of their business, pet franchises need to be more attentive while chalking their insurance plans.

Important insurance covers that a typical pet franchise will need are:

  • Employers’ Liability Insurance

All businesses must have Employers’ Liability Insurance to cover for their employees. If you run a pet franchise, your employees will always be prone to being injured ‘on the job’. Therefore, it’s a good idea to opt for an extra-conservative, more-than-sufficient Employers’ Liability Insurance as a routine operational expense.

  • Public Liability Insurance

The cases of pets causing injuries or distress to the general public are all too common. At times, these damages can end up crippling your business to the point of no return. Therefore, to avoid meeting such unfortunate ends, it’s essential to go for a wide-enough Public Liability Insurance cover.

  • Custom Business Insurance

This part of the overall insurance scheme is often ignored by many pet franchise owners. If you are taking custody of customers’ pets or offering pet products, it’s of utmost importance to have your business covered by a custom business insurance plan. Such plans can be quite handy in covering for any accidental injuries or harm to pets in your care.

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Important Codes, Rules and Laws for Pet Franchises in the UK

Pet businesses are required to follow numerous laws, rules and codes before they start trading. The best way to know more about these is to talk to a qualified business lawyer, as well as the franchisor. Some of the common and relevant references in this context are noted below:

Top Pet Franchises in the UK

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular pet franchises in the UK to give us an idea about their USPs, the initial investment required and the features they offer to their franchisees.

Oscar Pet Foods

  • Minimum Initial Investment: £8,995 (plus VAT)
  • USP: Customised nutrition for pets
  • Thorough guidance and pet behavioural training
  • Popular brand name
  • Extensive marketing support
  • Corporate clothing, accessories, liveries and other paraphernalia included
  • Bespoke marketing tools
  • E-Commerce advantage
  • Full BFA Member

Canine Creche

  • Minimum Initial Investment: £42,500 (plus VAT)
  • USP: State-of-the-art dog boarding
  • One of the first national dog care and boarding brands
  • Deep market penetration; 20,000+ annual visits
  • Full accounting support and software setup
  • Choose from fixed/percentage royalty schemes
  • High-end kennelling facilities and training

Longcroft Luxury Cat Hotel

  • Minimum Initial Investment: £50,000 (plus VAT)
  • USP: Premium, high-end cattery
  • The best-known cat hotel chain in the UK
  • Full staff training
  • Extensive knowledge transfer
  • Ongoing support

Barking Mad

  • Minimum Initial Investment: £10,000 (plus VAT)
  • USP: Affordable home dog boarding; Holiday boarding for dogs
  • Exclusive territory allocation
  • Quick deployment of the business
  • Full training and marketing support
  • 2016 Amazon Growing Business Award winner
  • Extensive online marketing
  • Full BFA Member

Trophy Pet Foods

  • Minimum Initial Investment: £8,000 (plus VAT, excluding the costs of mobile van)
  • USP: Direct-to-home mobile pet food delivery
  • In business for 25+ years
  • One of the first specialty pet franchise businesses in the UK
  • Ongoing customer satisfaction, nutritional guidance and marketing training
  • Ready-to-replicate business template
  • Brand accessories, livery and packaging
  • Full BFA Member

Dial A Dog Wash

  • Minimum Initial Investment: £14,999 (plus VAT, excluding the costs of mobile van)
  • USP: New-age dog grooming service
  • Inclusive of a grooming parlour with modern equipment
  • Full training and ongoing sales support
  • Exclusive territory with 175,000+ people
  • Online presence, social media support
  • Inclusive of 1-year PL Insurance

* Fees & features mentioned on this page are merely indicative and subject to change.

The Takeaways

  • If you are passionate about pets, you already have an edge in this business.
  • You can get started on a small budget, without looking for external funding.
  • A well-run pet franchise can turn profitable in a matter of months.
  • It’s important to choose and optimise your territory.

Brace yourself for hefty marketing expenses to acquire customers.

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