Who better to learn about owning a K9 Resorts franchise from, and talk shop with, than the very first K9 Resorts franchise owner? That’s why we sat down with Andy Lubalin of the K9 Resorts location in Fairfield, NJ. As the first franchisee in the K9 Resorts family, Andy started his journey in 2011. The doors of the Fairfield location officially opened in April 2013 and the rest is history. We wanted to see what made Andy want to get into the business and what advice he might have for prospective franchise owners thinking about joining the family.
Q: How did you decide to become a franchise owner?
A: I was in the corporate world for more than 20 years and was traveling all week. I had small children and wanted to be at home more. I made a move but then the commute was just taking up too much time and the actual job I was doing wasn’t making me happy. I knew I wanted to own my own business and work with animals. I actually wasn’t looking for a franchise, but just the pet industry. However, I knew Steven and Jason Parker because they used to walk my dog and the rest is history.
Q: What made you choose K9?
A: As I mentioned, I wasn’t specifically looking for a franchise but for someway to get into the industry. So, I contacted Steven and Jason and they had me come by a location. I was absolutely blown away by the K9 Resorts operation and so I started talking to them about possibly owning a franchise.
Q: Where does your love of dogs come from?
A: I’ve always loved dogs, but I didn’t really think about getting into the industry until I had an invisible fence installed on my property. From that day, I knew I wanted to have the opportunity to work with animals in some form.
Q: What’s the best thing about owning a franchise?
A: One of the best things about owning a franchise is the support that you get. When I was hiring and training staff, corporate helped me in any way I needed to change culture and get the right group of people in place at my location. This means I was able to have more qualified people on my team and stop working so many hours myself. They also trained my staff at no charge and if I was short staffed, they were very helpful in providing staff.
Even now I know that I could call them with any need, and they’d be right there for me.
Q: What makes coming into work great for you?
A: The best part of the job are the relationships I’ve built with customers… and of course the dogs! I love interacting with the dogs, but pet care is an intimate business because these pets are just as important as children and are part of the family. So, always making sure the customers are happy and can count on us is key. We always make sure that customers feel welcome and like they’re a part of our family. When you build relationships with your customers, if there’s ever an issue, you have that relationship to back you up.
Q: What is your #1 piece of advice for a brand new K9 franchise owner?
A: Planning! If I could do it over, I’d start smaller. There are expenses that you’ll incur that you may not plan for, so save as much as you can before you open your own K9 Resorts franchise. I would also have started with a lighter staff to begin with and bulked up as demand required. My best advice is to really think about your level of experience in the industry and the motivation for coming into the business. You should be prepared to be very dedicated to the business in the first few years. Also, finding the right staff can make or break your business. Lastly, you need to be able to work with people. Pet parents are wonderful and appreciating interacting with them is key to success!
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