Prospect to Active Franchisee

Experience of Prospect to becoming an Active Franchisee case studies

Lee & Katy - Animals at Home (Hastings)

We are Katy and Lee who have been running the Hastings branch of the franchise Animals at Home since 2008. During the past 13 years we have been privileged to be part of the franchise and enjoyed looking after a varied selection of pets.
Our area is a mix of rural and urban households. The work/life balance works well for us as we have 2 children, so we tailor our daily operations around family commitments; we feel we haven't missed out on our children growing up which is important for us. Now the children are older, we look forward to expanding our business over the next few years. The support from the franchisors, should you need them is second to none, but at the same time we are able to feel in control of our business.

Moyra - Animals at Home (Edinburgh & Lothians) Ltd.

I have been running Animals at Home Edinburgh and Lothians for eleven years. My background is nursing which I feel has reassured clients that I will be able to identify problems with their pets and judge when they need the vet’s intervention.
Following the birth of my children I worked in Market Research. When I was made redundant, I was attracted to the franchise as I wanted to work for myself but had no business experience. The initial training and support given was excellent It gave me the confidence to make a success of my business.
My area is a mix of urban and rural. I have really enjoyed to diversity of animals I have looked after from horse to sheep, cats, dogs, rats etc etc!
For me this has been a seven day a week commitment, but I have been very lucky to have my daughter on hand as an employee.
Many of my clients have been with me for years so I have been with them through major life events  - weddings, honeymoon and the birth of children. I really enjoy being available to my clients and giving the best service.
As a franchisee I have been very well supported and always have someone to turn to. It is easy to set up an independent pet care business, but doing it ethically and properly as a franchisee, my clients feel it gives them great peace of mind to know I am part of something bigger. I am proud of the brand and have never regretted my decision not to go it alone.

Andy - Animals at Home (National Forest) Ltd.

With a background of a degree and early career in Geology, followed by 19 years in sales and marketing; including 3 redundancies in 5 years at the height of the financial crash; I needed to take control of my future and embarked on a search for a business opportunity that would provide a steady income, self-determination, a work life balance and be financially robust, even in challenging economic circumstances. I found that mix of benefits and opportunity with the Animals at Home pet care franchise.

Now 10 years on, becoming an Animals at Home franchisee continues to be a fruitful and satisfying decision. Our franchise, Animals at Home (National Forest) Ltd, has an ideal mix of urban and rural clients, ensuring a variety of experiences from dog walking and cat sitting, to caring for smallholdings. Now working along with my wife, we enjoy the challenge of being in control of our business on a daily basis, giving us the freedom and flexibility to decide on the mix of services we offer, and the time spent at work or at home and with family.

Running an Animals at Home franchise offers a daily variation of the services provided, such as dog walking, cat and small pet sitting, pet transport and pet cremations. The mix of services provides a regular flow of business and income throughout the year. Despite the challenges of the aftermath of the financial crash and the Covid pandemic, the Animals at Home franchise model has proven how resilient it is, with ongoing training, legislative and administration support, successful marketing and hands on advice when needed.

But when all’s said and done, the biggest enjoyment is being with the wonderful pets we care for and the satisfaction of providing a professional, reliable service to our valued clients and veterinary professionals.

Damian - Animals at Home (Croydon) Ltd.

After 25 years working for the Ministry of Justice, I was offered redundancy, or voluntary severance. It was a very enjoyable job, but very stressful. I was not sleeping too well but never realised until I left.

Living in the London Borough of Croydon meant the commute each day was easy and enabled me to travel to all the courts in London that I was responsible for. Even with a short commute the actual journeys were not particularly pleasant.

Within 24 hours of receiving the bad news about my job our Pet Sitter Pearl informed us that she was unfortunately having to stop her pet care services due to ill health. She was an Animals at Home franchisee. She was putting her business up for sale. The Croydon franchise area is mainly densely urban to the North with wider green areas to the South. It gives a good mix of households with pets as well as plenty of outdoor space for dog walking.

Something in my head clicked straight away – here was a real opportunity for me to change jobs, change lifestyle and have the opportunity to work with animals!

Some 10 weeks later I said farewell to the Ministry of justice and hello to Animals at Home! I was grateful to have Pearl shadow me for a full week and to receive support and advice from head office.

I took to the lifestyle straight away and was immediately planning on improvements that I could comfortably make to increase turnover. In fact, after 12 months, I had increased the turnover from Pearl’s last year by 50%. It was helpful being part of a franchise - apart from having Head Office I also had fellow franchisees close by who were available for support and advice.

I was able to put many years of developed skills and experience to use in this new role. I was thoroughly enjoying meeting new people and their amazing pets. I was forging great relationships with local vets, charities, and other organisations. I gained a great knowledge of animal and pet care and found a new lease of life working for myself. Finally, I was able manage my life-work balance to suit my own needs. I was now sleeping like a baby each night.

New Directors took charge during my second contracted term and things have improved dramatically. Communication is now excellent, and the quality of Marketing materials is amazing. Being part of a wider franchise network with such talented and experienced owners and fellow franchisees has made running a business so much easier than it would have been on my own.

Mel - Animals at Home (West Leicestershire) Ltd.

Before I purchased the franchise for Animals at Home West Leicestershire, I ran a successful voice teaching practice. This career spanned over 25 years. I felt I had covered everything within the occupation, leaving me feeling that I needed a new challenge, something that would equally feed my passion for leadership and job satisfaction. Animal welfare was something that I already had a passion for, therefore working in this field was greatly appealing to me.

I was particularly interested in running a business that offered a multiple pet care service. After researching this various franchises in this field, I decided to invest in buying a franchise with Animals at Home.

My decision was based on Animals at Home already being an established Franchise company, covering England and Scotland. The training and start up package offered was also appealing and reassuring.

My franchise area (Animals at Home West Leicestershire Ltd) is a rural/urban mix of households, which fits in well with where I am based, as I live central to both the city and countryside. The hours of work can be tailored to lifestyle and home/work balance.

What I enjoy about running and operating my franchise is predominately offering a care service for my client’s pets. Especially the pet ambulance service, which is a wonderful service for those who need transport for their pets either in an emergency or for routine appointments with their vet.

Taking care of my client’s pets when they are away from home is also a lovely part of my work. I formed a beautiful bond with the pets in my care which offers both work satisfaction and personal enrichment.

Mel, Animals at Home (West Leicestershire) Ltd, franchisee since 2018.

Lynette & AJ - Animals at Home (King’s Lynn & West Norfolk) Ltd.

Before Animals at Home came into my life in May 2020, I was in Sales for over 30 years. Various types of sales including radio, publishing, hotels, IT and many others. I have also been an IT trainer for several years. I usually got bored after a few years and moved on, looking for that special "something" that always seemed to be missing.

Buying into the franchise was entirely the best thing I have ever done in my working life - I was told it was a "lifestyle" job, and boy it sure is! I don't think I really knew what that entailed, except I really wanted to give it a go.  This franchise utilises all my skills in customer service, sales and marketing and training. I have gone from working for other people; to their timescales, demands, agendas and pressure - to still having all that - but doing it for ME! My area has a vast coverage, West Norfolk is very rural with medium sized towns and many small villages, with a huge coastline along the east side. It would take at least an hour to reach all boundaries - so we have to work hard to ensure efficiently spaced appointments and utilise our vehicles and time accordingly.

In the early days I spent most of the time pushing the new business and building my brand in the area. There was a lot of downtime but being persistent and following the franchise plan I was given, has paid off and we are now very busy with business in all aspects of the franchise offerings, often exceeding expectations from Head Office. My business partner came on board full time after only a few months, we live together so the business and home life do overlap.  We are still learning how to work this out and give ourselves days (or half days!) off, but this will come in time and when we can get more people on board.

It is brilliant running my own business, but so helpful and comforting knowing that I have expert advice and guidance just a phone call or email away. Our Directors have done everything to help me to succeed and encouraged progress and development, and by following their strategy we are now proud to be one of the chosen franchises that is recommended for new franchisees to contact for an insight when enquiring about coming into the business.

Without Head Office we would not be as successful or confident as we are today.

Lynette and AJ, Animals at Home (King’s Lynn & West Norfolk) Ltd, franchisees since 2020.

Jason - Animals at Home (Cornwall) Ltd.

All my career has been in Customer Service and for the last five years within logistics, managing a depot for a well-known parcel delivery company. The hours were long and hard work, and my home – work life balance was almost non-existent.  I needed something to do which would keep me busy and allow me more time to do the things that I enjoyed.

So my journey began with Animals at Home! I still travel, spend time with people but most of all I am able to use my knowledge of pets from all my years! dogs, cats, snakes, rodents, birds are all now part of my weekly schedule and time now to spend training my two working German Shepherds with Cornwall Search Dogs.

The support I receive from the team at Animals at Home is always available and I am proud to be part of this with my Franchise coving the whole of Cornwall, a mixture of very rural and towns and of course, a beach for every day of the year! Whilst still very new to this, I am enjoying going to “work” every day, with new challenges and new friends to meet both two and the four-legged variety.

Jason, Animals at Home (Cornwall) Ltd, franchisee since 2021.

Jules - Animals at Home (Taunton & South Somerset) Ltd.

I own the Taunton and South Somerset branch of Animals at Home.  I joined Animals at Home as a franchisee in September 2020.  I left my position as Practice Manager for an orthodontic practice and although I enjoyed my role I haven’t looked back since joining Animals at Home.

Initially I spoke with the management team and also a couple other franchise owners, and I instantly knew I wanted to be part of this wonderful team, spending my days with animals which is my idea of heaven.

I love that there is plenty of support throughout, and even a franchise private Facebook group where everyone is always happy to offer support and advice when needed along with humorous stories from their furry companions.

Jules, Animals at Home (Taunton & South Somerset) Ltd. Franchisee from 2020.

Louise - Animals at Home (Perth & Kinross) Ltd.

I am Louise and I am in my 6th year as Director of my Animals at Home Franchise within the Perth & Kinross area which is a mixture of both rural and urban client base. I live with my husband Doug and 3 energetic cats Missy, Ichabod and Sal.

I started my career in the Hospitality sector then I took a break to backpack around Europe, North Africa, Egypt and volunteered for 10 months in a Kibbutz in Israel.

I worked for Safeway Stores Plc as a Human Resources Manager and after my redundancy I worked as a Food Retail Manager for various National Food retailers. The time came where I looked to change career and after research for a career working with animals, I found an advert for an Animals at Home Franchise.

I enjoy my Franchise where I now have a work/life balance. I organise my daily schedule for dog walking, home care visits, transportation, house sitting where no two days are the same, and I have built up regular client base and over the last five years I have cared for cats, dogs, small furries to exotics i.e. snakes, bearded dragons to rare breed pigs and sheep to chickens, geese and emus.

I enjoy working as part of a Franchise as it suits my background where I have autonomy to run my business and I also have regular support and best practise guidance from the Franchisor and the camaraderie from my fellow Franchisees, especially over the Covid-19 lockdowns I have been kept informed from head office with up to date with the ever changing Governmental Legislation and Guidance. Any questions I may have or feel I just want a chat I can pick up the phone and someone is always there.

I also enjoy regular training and have had the opportunity to achieve my City & Guilds Technical Competence in Dog Walking and Technical Competence in Pet Sitting organised through the Animals at Home Franchise at the Wiltshire College.  I do not think I’d have known about the City & Guilds training opportunities if I were a single entity business.

My working week can vary from day to day but my regular clients include two beautiful horses and lots of dogs.  A typical day will start with cat, rabbit or even chicken and rats feeds followed by the horses and then several hours of dog walks finishing up with evening cat feeds.  One of my favourite things to do is house stays in which I have looked after dogs, cats, horses and sheep.   I love being with animals and being outside in the fresh air so joining the AAH Franchise for me provided me with my dream role, I get to spend all day with animals with plenty of walks in the countryside, what more could a girl want!!!

Louise, Animals at Home (Perth & Kinross) Ltd, franchisee since March 2016.