The article is a Q&A business feature on two brothers, Steven Parker and Jason Parker and how they started the Award Winning Pet Care Company, K9 Resorts.
1. Nice to have you guys here today. Can we meet you?
Thanks for having us; we are Steven and Jason Parker, Co-founders of K9 Resorts Daycare & Luxury Hotel.
2. Tell us how K9 Resorts Daycare & Luxury Hotel got its start.
K9 Resorts is an award winning, state of the art pet care facility. We offer luxury overnight cage-free dog boarding and doggie daycare. Our facilities are custom built, with the best technology available to keep pets comfortable, safe and healthy while they are in our care. K9 Resorts is proud to be a nationally recognized leader in the pet care industry, has been featured on Fox Business, CNBC, CNN Money, the wall street journal, yahoo.com & aol.com, and the #1 rated pet care facility in New Jersey for the past five years! This all didn’t happen overnight. As children, we always wanted a dog of our own but our parents are just not dog people. We started “pet sitting” for our neighbors pets when they traveled and realized our passion in life. Working with dogs and owning our own business. As we continued to grow our business, we wanted to evolve the concept. We traveled all over the country visiting top rated pet care facilities and hired the top experts to help us design K9 Resorts. In 2005, we opened our doors and the concept was an immediate success!
3. Where does your strong entrepreneurial spirit come from?
We have always had a strong entrepreneurial spirit from a young age. When our friends were enjoying their summers, we were walking dogs and each had full time jobs. We always wanted to challenge ourselves to do something else and never get tired of hard work. Starting to work and with our own business while in our teens really taught us a lot and gave us real world experience. This motivated us to keep working because we loved every minute of it!
4. How did you finance your luxury dog hotel at startup?
We financed the initial startup of our business through capital we earned from our first business, our in home pet sitting business.
5. What are the greatest challenges you encountered and how did you overcome them?
The two greatest challenges we faced were earning respect from vendors, banks and town officials at such a young age & financing. To earn the respect, we always did everything in the most professional manner possible. We dressed impeccably well & professional. We conducted ourselves in the most professional manor and people noticed. After a while, everyone just assumed we were 10 years older than we actually were, which helps when you are only 17 and still in high school! With respect to capital needs we established a relationship with a local, community bank. At a holiday party, we were approached by a banker who asked us, “Are you happy with your current bank?” To his surprise we answered, “No.” When he asked us why, we explained because we currently bank with two national banks, maintain accounts there and are in need of a small loan of $100,000. We had 50% of the money in the account ($50,000) which they could have required us to put in a CD as collateral. We were never given the time of day and one banker actually told us, “We don’t loan money to teenagers” Once we had the chance to work with a local community banker, he realized our potential and doesn’t have to work through the red tape of some of the other larger banks. This individual was able to introduce us to the Senior Vice President of Lending, which is all we wanted. We knew with just a 10 minute meeting, we would be able to convince the “decision maker” that we are able to pay back a loan. We got the meeting, easily convinced him and started a very long term lending relationship!
6. Why did you choose to expand your brand by franchising?
Franchising really works for our business model because we require each franchise owner to operate their business full time. That makes a huge difference in the service that a customer receives when entering a location. The person who is there really cares, and is passionate for the business and its success! It also allowed us to grow at the rate we wanted, which is opening several locations each year in different states throughout the East Coast.
7. Describe the snapshot of a joyful moment in your lives.
Opening our first franchise location in Fairfield, NJ! We were overwhelmed by the amount of people who attended including: roughly 500 potential customers, friends, family, advisors, all people who believed in us and the brand!
8. Are you targeting a specific demographic? Who are your customers?
Our customers are pet owners with enough disposable income to afford doggie daycare on a regular basis for their pet, and professionals who travel frequently for business or pleasure. Anyone who wants the absolute best pet care for their 4 legged family member.
9. What does your average workday consist of?
We work out of an office at the original K9 Resorts facility in Fanwood, NJ. Steve and I are providing support for franchisees who are already open and in business and helping the franchisees who have already signed up with us but are not open, open their new businesses. With the existing franchisees, we help with marketing, growth strategies and how to provide flawless services to their customers. With the franchisees that are not yet open we help find a site, get the proper zoning approvals, properly specking the facility, getting it built, training and grand opening marketing.
10. What three pieces of advice would you give to a young entrepreneur starting out today?
Never give up! Perseverance is important. No matter what comes in your way, because there will always be obstacles, keep trying for what you believe it. Find a need in the community that is either not being fulfilled or come up with a way to fulfill it better and do it. When you come up with your business plan, do everything you can possibly do, to outperform your competition. In the right market, people do not mind paying for extraordinary service, but you have to deliver it to them!
11. Which four adjectives describe your strengths?
Persistent, detail oriented, confident and ambitious.
12. When you started out in business, what specific idea, purpose or vision was your driving force?
We loved dogs and wanted to get into a business that had to do with dogs. Our vision was to create the absolute best pet care facility around and we did just that.
13. How important is technology to your success? What kind of technology has made the most impact on your business and why?
Technology is important, its 2014! It makes communicating a lot easier. For example, instead of having to make 30-50 phone calls a day, most of the time, sending an email can work just fine. However, anytime there is something that is VERY important or delicate, I find it much better to use the phone. Things can get very confusing or mixed and mangled over email.
14. What’s your take on the general notion that entrepreneurs should build a business around what they actually love to do?
We agree with that 100 percent!
15. What do you think about Under35CEO.co?
We think it is great! The site can provide entrepreneurs with valuable information from individuals who have gone through it before….