Brothers Steven and Jason Parker, lifelong animal lovers, are the proud founders of K-9 Resorts Daycare & Luxury Hotel, rated #1 by multiple major publications in New Jersey.
Back in 1999, at the ages of 14 (Steven) and 12 (Jason), the boys started their first pet care business, K-9 Guardians Professional Pet Sitting. At that time, they never planned on pursuing pet care as a career, but when Steven flew to Nashville, Tennessee in the fall of 2002 in order to attend “Quest for Excellence” (an international convention for professional pet sitters), their dream to open a luxury hotel for dogs was born.
That dream was fulfilled in 2005, when the Parker brothers bought a commercial building in Fanwood NJ, and had it custom built to be one of the finest pet care facilities in the country. In 2009, Steven and Jason decided that they wanted to provide other pet lovers with the opportunity to own their own business, so they retained the services of SMB Franchise Advisors, a top franchise consulting firm, responsible for growing such brands as Rita’s Italian Ice, Lawn Doctor, and Hollywood Tans.
K-9 Resorts officially became a franchise company in January 2011, and sold their first franchise to one of their long-time customers only two months later. It’s my pleasure to share with you this exclusive interview with Steven Parker, the young and dynamic CEO of K9 Resorts. Thank you, Steven, for sharing your story with us!
1. What made you decide to start K9 Resorts?
Always wanting a dog of our own, but never receiving the green light from our parents, Jason, my brother and President of K9 Resorts, and I devised a way around the “no dogs allowed” house rule. In 1999, when we were just 12 and 14 years old, we created K-9 Guardians Professional Pet Sitting, a professional dog walking service. That business not only became a highly profitable enterprise that we were able to sell for a six-figure sum but that revenue became the initial capital for K9 Resorts. In January 2005, K-9 Resorts Daycare & Luxury Hotel was born.
2. Why should someone interested in owning his or her own business consider a pet services franchise?
This is a booming industry. Consumer spending, despite harsh economic conditions, has continued to rise. In 2011, Entrepreneur Magazine ranked the pet care industry as one of the top 10 hottest franchising trends. The rising trends in the industry demonstrate long-term growth, as Americans are looking for more luxury services for their pets, as part of the family. Residents of the United States own over 78 million dogs, and spend over $3.5 billion each year on grooming and boarding. More and more Americans are splurging on their pets, and K9 Resorts provides a way for consumers to pamper their dogs, and a way for franchisees to capitalize on this growing industry segment.
3. What sets K9 Resorts apart from your competitors in the pet services industry?
The main way that K9 is different from its competitors is the level of service that both the client and pet receive. As a luxury dog hotel and daycare, K9 Resorts pulls out all the stops for its clients and pets. We always have senior management on site seven days a week to ensure the highest quality of service. We are the only pet care facility to have been ranked #1 in the state three years running. Our staff is certified by the Pet Care Services Association and everything in our facility is state-of-the-art, including cage-free boarding options, designer suites, and premium Kuranda dog beds. In addition, many veterinarians, groomers, and other pet professionals recommend our services and even board their own pets at K9 Resorts. This is considered the absolute highest compliment a pet care facility can receive and it is something that sets us apart from our competitors.
4. What qualities do you look for in a prospective franchisee of K9 Resorts?
We are looking for those people who have a passion and a dream for running their own business. They really need to provide that “it” factor. Prospective franchisees need to love working with animals and a desire to provide a great service to their community. Also, they are sophisticated and savvy business people who know that running their own business will be hard work, but have the drive to succeed and at the end of the day, they are doing something they love to do.
The ideal territory for K9 Resorts is in an upper middle class or upper class community with a dual income household. The ideal neighborhood would be where families don’t have children yet, but want a family member. They treat their dogs as children, but because both parties work, they need help taking care of their dog so they would utilize K9 Resorts for day care and overnight boarding.
6. Based on your observations, what concrete steps do the most successful franchisees of K9 Resorts take in order to build and grow their businesses?
There are three factors that we believe are the most important in becoming successful within the K9 Resorts franchise system. First, franchisees must follow the system. We have designed a system that works if followed correctly. Second, franchisees need to think outside of the box to find marketing initiatives that help build long term relationships that work in their specific communities. Finally, franchisees must hire the best employees they can find and provide the best training to their employees.
7. What kind of ongoing support do you extend to your K9 Resorts franchisees to help them become more successful?
Our first priority is to provide pets the best possible care and help our franchisees grow within our system, so we do whatever it takes to accomplish those goals. During our training process, we require our franchisees to learn all facets of the business from managing the books to working the point of sales system and taking reservations for the clients. Our training is a continuous process. Even after the franchisee comes in for initial training, we’ll go out to their location to provide continued training. Additionally, our software program is proven to make the business run more efficiently and we create a marketing plan for each franchisee’s specific territory. At K9 Resorts, we hand the franchisee every tool they will need to help them run a successful business.
8. Can you describe your typical day as CEO of K9 Resorts? What do you enjoy most about your job?
As CEO of K9 Resorts in Fanwood, NJ and as CEO of K9 Resorts the franchising company, I wear many hats. At the beginning of the day, I check on the operations of the corporate location to make sure that everything is set up to run smoothly for that day. In the afternoon, my brother and President of the company, Jason, and I sit down and strategize on growing both our location in Fanwood and the franchise company. The rest of the afternoon, we set out to implement the plan we discussed earlier in the day. What I love most about my job is operating my own business and giving back to the community.