- Start Up Cost:
- Franchise Type:
- Sector Type:
- Investment Type:
- £12,995 + VAT
- Home Based
- Pet Services
For over ten years We Love Pets have been providing dog walking and pet sitting services to thousands of happy customers. They are a family business with people and their pets at the heart of what we do.
We Love Pets is an award-winning, bfa accredited, company in the pet franchise market and have been rated in the top 7% by Elite Franchising.
Our franchisees wanted to leave their employment behind to become their own boss while working with animals and getting a better work life balance. All our franchisees are successful and happy – just ask them!
They enjoy our unrivalled support from our team of business, marketing and pet experts, vet nurse and solicitor. We are also the only franchisor to offer the City & Guilds dog walking and pet sitting qualification (in partnership with Wiltshire College).
Our business model and customer website works so well (we should know, it’s been running successfully for over ten years) that we guarantee to return franchise fees if franchisees don’t get enough customer enquiries.
One of the many benefits of joining the We Love Pets team of franchisees, is the initial and ongoing training we provide.
A typical day includes answering emails and checking the team schedule for the day whilst drinking your morning coffee. You’ll then either walk some dogs or meet staff for a coffee and catch-up, lunch (sometimes on the go!) and then some more walks or pet visits. An hour or two on admin tasks followed by a few early evening customer visits are typical. All this is fitted round existing family life.
Tracey Alexander who runs our East Reading franchise is typical of business owners who see more to life than getting up each day and living to work. She now enjoys the freedom of being in control of her own destiny and doing something that she really enjoys.
Tracey had previously worked in corporate communications for a large local employer, which was a highly responsible and demanding job. However she got to the point of realising that there must be more to life than this and had often harboured he idea of running her own business.
Leaving the corporate life
In the end she took the decision to leave the corporate life and, as luck would have it, Amy, the local West Reading branch owner was recruiting dog walkers at the time. This was a perfect fit for Tracey who had owned a dog in the past and loved walking.
What she learned from Amy about We Love Pets got her thinking about taking on a franchise of her own.
Business in a box
“What really impressed me was that it was a ‘business in a box’. Everything I needed to start a dog walking and pet care business was provided, and I wouldn’t have considered it if it was not such a complete package, which overcame many of the difficulties of starting my own business.”
We Love Pets provide everything including a comprehensive induction handbook that helps someone with limited experience of working with dogs and other animals like Tracey to get up and running straight away. It is packed with useful hints and advice from other experienced dog walker that gave her confidence when she started. The company has an excellent health and safety policy too, and even arranged for Tracey to complete a pet first aid course so that she could deal with any rare medical emergencies.
Tracey has had the franchise since 2014 and her good organisational and man management skills has enabled her to build up a team of 10 people including two that provide dog boarding for owners who prefer this to putting their pets in a kennel or cattery when they are away.
I feel part of a team
“What I really like is that I feel part of a team and can call on expertise and support if I need it. Being a part of a well established brand is a great help and the excellent website is also a big plus as this generates the bulk of my enquiries.”
In the East Reading area it is dog walking that is the most popular service that Tracey offers. Most of her customers go out to work pretty early in the morning and so much of her activity is around the lunchtime period when the dogs need a good walk to let off steam after being cooped up all morning. This allows her to help look after her Nan, something she could not have contemplated before.
She also provides pet sitting and dog visits which is particularly popular around holiday time as is the dog boarding service.
It has made such a difference to my life
“I would absolutely recommend anyone who likes pets, especially dogs, who is looking at starting up a fantastically rewarding business to look into taking on a We Love Pets franchise. It has made such a difference to my life and I’m sure it will theirs too.”
Sophie Baldwin joined the We Love Pets team in 2016, opening a branch in Stroud, Gloucestershire.
Opportunity to combine her knowledge of animals with her dream of running her own business
We Love Pets provided Sophie with the opportunity to combine her knowledge of animals with her dream of running her own business, and with a lifelong love of horses Sophie was a superb match for our team of franchisees.
“I spent two years as a nanny/groom for a family with horses and horses continue to be a big part of my life now, then I worked as a veterinary nurse, initially as a student veterinary nurse, and spent 10 years in that career. Financially, veterinary nursing wasn’t paying very well so I started working as a sales rep for pet insurance and pet nutrition companies. I went back to be a vet nurse in 2008.
“I am used to dealing with animals and clients; I couldn’t see myself continuing as a vet nurse for the rest of my career. Business ownership really appealed to me, so I started looking into how I could run a business in the animal industry. We Love Pets just seemed like a natural progression to allow me to combine both together.”
Accounting, marketing and recruitment is all taken care of
Although Sophie joins the brand with an impressive history with animals, she knew she’d need help and support with accounting, marketing and recruitment if she were to start her own business, franchising was motivating as it was all taken care of.
“I came across the We Love Pets franchise website and they had their brochure available to read. I wanted to find out more, so I applied online and We Love Pets contacted me to go in and pursue the opportunity further.”
We Love Pets have been extremely supportive
“The whole business side of things, such as the facts, accounting and marketing scared me! It appealed to me that, with franchising, it was all part of the package and taken in hand for you. We Love Pets have been extremely supportive and the accountancy firm they have linked me up with has also been very good. Having never employed anybody before I know I’ll also have training, when the time comes, in recruiting people. Family members and friends asked me why I wasn’t just setting up on my own. I wanted the support of the franchisor. You have support every step of the way.”
Sophie did her homework before approaching We Love Pets, but it didn’t take her long before she made her decision.
We Love Pets have won awards and the statistics around franchising and start-up businesses were very appealing.
“I gave myself a couple of weeks to make sure I had the finances and was able to commit to the business. They’ve won awards and the statistics around franchising and start-up businesses were very appealing. We Love Pets have been going since 2007, so they haven’t just started up and they’re growing.”
Sophie has found the start-up successful and offers these words of first hand advice to anyone considering their own We Love Pets franchise.
“So far it’s been a positive experience and I have been recommending it to others. It’s a friendly company, they’re quick to answer questions and they’ve kept me up to date with my training.
“Make sure you are ready financially to start with because you’re not going to make money straight away. Give yourself a good year of finances.”
Jayne and Mike Walker, a lovely couple, who were passionate about pets, joined the We Love Pets franchisee team by operating their franchise in and around Didcot, Abingdon and Wallingford in Oxfordshire. Both came from quite different backgrounds, but equally their experiences made them a perfect pairing to be a part of the growing team of franchisees.
“Mike’s career was mostly spent in telecommunications and he always held management roles. I started off in the pop industry, selling space in magazines and in album manufacturing” said Jayne. “I also spent time as a swimming teacher, nanny, in retail and a dog groomer.”
“Working around dogs and knowing their behaviour was valuable. The management experience has also been great and has given us a framework around how to organise people. We Love Pets has a template and help and advice on how to do it, but our previous experience really helped with that.”
Leaving stressful jobs
Jayne and Mike both had stressful jobs and had reached a point in their lives where they wanted to do something that gave them and others joy. Being around animals seemed the perfect resolve. Although running their own dog walking business wasn’t their immediate plan, they’ve not looked back.
“We left our last jobs because of the stress! We were under tons of it. We Love Pets is more relaxed and deadlines are not as strenuous. We Love Pets does have stresses, but it’s a different type of stress because you feel part of the business and you’re happy. If a dogs needs help and assistance you feel like you’re doing something worthwhile and important.”
We liked the ethos behind the business
“I went for an interview to walk dogs for another franchise area.” explained Jayne “We were offered the franchise opportunity instead. Until we were offered the opportunity, it wasn’t something we had considered. We liked the ethos behind the business. I just wanted to be able to take the dogs out for walks and the business allows me to do that. We didn’t want to do group walks and the company don’t do that. We want to provide a personal service that the animals benefit from. What the animal needs is the most important thing.”
Jayne and Mike didn’t go in to running a franchise lightly, they knew they wanted to have a better way of life than they had before in their stressful jobs, but equally they knew that they would need to work hard to continue the work of the brand. But why did they choose to go for a franchise rather than setting up their own business?
We just wanted to have a work/life balance
“With a sales background, we didn’t want to do something that was too in depth. The reason we wanted to do it was for the animals. By the time we’d set up a business by ourselves, we might have lost the animal side of things. We’re not involved in the legal, paperwork or technicalities; head office supported us with all of that. Without that there would have been a lot more stress and we would have lost focus. We can call someone for support and help with moving the business forward. We just wanted to have a work/life balance.”
Benefits of running their own business, without the worry of being alone
Ongoing support and direction, when needed, has aided Jayne and Mike to grow their business without pressure. They have all the benefits of running their own business, without the worry of being alone when they come up against things they’re unfamiliar with.
“We’re learning that we can’t do everything ourselves. We had lots of support from We Love Pets and they have a huge amount of information on their main intranet page. We have guidance and advice from both Laura and Jo in almost anything we need. We can call them and they’ll talk us through over the phone or visit us at home to run through any issues or progress in the business.
“They’re always on hand when we need them. They let you run the business your way, so if you don’t need the support they leave you to run the business yourself. There’s no micro-management. If you’re doing well, you can just call them when you need them. They keep an eye on the business without interfering.”
So, after their first year how are the couple finding their new way of life?
“Rewarding – some customers – older couples who don’t see anyone day-to-day – don’t need a dog walker, but they want the contact.
“Jo’s very good at putting across what the business is – things you can share with someone to stop them making the same mistakes as you – saving time. Go for it!“
Like many of our franchisees Fiona Adams, who runs our Wootton Bassett branch, has always had a great love of animals and has been around them all of her life. She has owned a wide and interesting assortment over the years (she currently has a ferret and a parakeet), which makes her ideally suited to running a We Love Pets branch.
Fiona also had a wide and very varied career in business before starting her own We Love Pets branch in February 2015 and this experience helped her enormously with her new venture.
When she and her family moved to the area she opened and ran a successful bed & breakfast for around 5 years which gave her a good idea of what it was like to own and run your own business. After she had sold this she went to work in both the retail and hospitality sectors where she developed her ability to deal with customers and manage staff, which has been useful running her We Love Pets operation.
Finding a job working with animals and offering much less unsociable hours was what was needed.
It was her last job supervising a children’s play area at a local pub that convinced her that finding a job working with animals and offering much less unsociable hours was what was needed.
She had also helped out for a few months as a volunteer at the Oak & Furrow Animal Rescue Centre where she got a lot of hands on experience looking after injured and distressed animals that included everything from hedgehogs and swans to deer and fox cubs.
Fiona also took a diploma in Animal Care, Welfare and Husbandry to add to her already extensive experience of caring for all sorts of animals, both wild and domestic.
Her husband, who has provided great support, agreed and she set up a new branch covering the Royal Wootton Bassett, Hook, Calne, Lyneham and surrounding areas.
We Love Pets provided all of the advice and support I needed to get up and running quickly
“I saw from working with Clare in Swindon that it was a really professional set up and the company provided all of the advice and support I needed to get up and running quickly.
“My background in customer service and running the B&B were invaluable but, because of the support I get from We Love Pets, not essential. The support I have had from my husband has also been really welcome and I am sure that anyone who is considering taking on a franchise themselves would also appreciate their partner’s involvement too.
“It is also essential to get a good team of reliable staff working with you. I have a great team of dog walkers but prefer to do the dog home boarding and dog day care myself – not just because I love doing it but because I like to know it is being done properly.”
In Fiona’s area, dog home boarding and pet day care are the most popular services she offers but her background and experience working with a wide variety of other pets including small animals, horses and reptiles makes sure her services are constantly in demand.
There is a huge demand for the services we offer
“There is no doubt that there is a huge demand for the services we offer and the brilliant thing about working with We Love Pets is that you get out what you put in. The more you are prepared to do, the better the rewards. I would definitely recommend that any animal person who is also a people person should seriously look into the opportunities offered by a We Love Pets franchise.”
Danielle Judd had been looking for a change in career and something that would allow her to pursue her passion; working with animals. With previous experience in animal welfare, Danielle was looking for a new opportunity that would allow her to work for herself and has been gradually building her business since October 2015.
A chance to focus on animal care
We Love Pets gave Danielle a chance to return to a focus on animal care, as she had moved away from this in her previous role. Her skills in team management and the ability to look after a team meant that she was perfectly suited to run and develop a We Love Pets franchise.
“I originally began my career in the travel industry and worked for both a travel agent and for a magazine, writing in the travel section. Having worked in that industry for a number of years, I decided to go travelling and had a complete change of heart when I returned. I wanted to do something more personal and caring and to work with animals. I found a job at a Dog Rescue Centre and worked my way up to animal welfare manager.
“After 16 years, I made the choice to move on, the job had changed a lot over time and I had learnt so much from it. The job was getting quite political and too corporate for me, I felt that I was getting away from what I was supposed to be doing, which was caring for animals! I was managing a team of 32 people and had moved away from working with animals. I was stuck in an office all day and questioning what I was doing and what I was achieving. I could see the dogs outside my office but I wasn’t spending any time with them.
“I wanted to change my career; I had just moved to Swindon and was looking for an opportunity to work with animals again, so began looking into franchising. I’ve always known that if you open a franchise it should be doing something you enjoy so I had looked into a variety of different concepts in the past but hadn’t delved too deeply until I found We Love Pets.”
Offers people with a passion for animals the opportunity to build a business for themselves.
We Love Pets offers individuals with a passion for dogs and animals to build a business for themselves. With over 58 million pets in the UK, our franchisees service a growing demand for pet care services with an aim to provide the same personal service as a small business but are large enough to cope with the demand for the service in the area. Franchisees provide dog walking, pet sitting, puppy sitting, dog home boarding and dog day care.
Danielle knew that she would need support if she wanted to set up a business by herself, which is why she chose to invest in a franchise. We Love Pets offered her comprehensive training and support to help her get off the ground quickly and successfully.
I chose franchising for the support
“I chose franchising for the support. We Love Pets in particular have got so much in place and you’ve got backup if you need it. I didn’t want to feel like I was out there on my own and with a franchise, there’s always someone around to answer your questions. I also received advice and guidance on accountants and that’s information you just wouldn’t have if you were setting up from scratch.
“For my training, I spent a couple of weeks with Jo in Swindon and received a manager file on how to run the franchise and how it all relates to the business and the branding. I also went out with another franchisee and shadowed them to find out more about how the business works on a daily basis. In terms of support, there’s always someone available by phone or email if you have any questions. It’s reassuring to have that in place.
“I started off small with the business and I want to grow it gradually within my own means. I’ve doubled the business in the last 6 months and have taken on staff as I grow. I had 4 staff when I started and now I’ve got 13! I can’t do all the dog walking myself and I own the biggest branch of We Love Pets in terms of population size. Getting a team in place and making sure they’ve got what they need is one of the most important elements of the business for me. I just want to make enough money to live comfortably.”
Enjoy the benefits of being your own boss
Danielle is enjoying the benefits of being her own boss and enjoys every element of the business – both working with dogs and managing her own team of staff.
“It feels good to be my own boss. I know that all the good feedback and customer service is down to me, it can be daunting but it’s also quite freeing. The team side of things and recruiting doesn’t really worry me because I had already been doing that before. It’s a mixture of feeling free and knowing you can do it, but also quite daunting.
“I feel really positive about the business now. It was quite hectic to begin with and I had to learn about the business as I went along. I got through a few hurdles and I’ve now got a great team around me. I’m also in contact with my local franchisee in Royal Wootton Bassett; it’s really useful to talk to someone who’s doing exactly the same thing as you. You can talk through any hurdles you encounter and help with the best way to deal with them.”
I would buy a We Love Pets franchise again
“I would buy a We Love Pets franchise again. The model works really well and we’re providing a great service for customers. It’s personable and friendly and not all about the money. There are people who are worried about using our services and having strangers coming into their house, so we put people at rest and make it a smooth experience for them. Being part of a bigger brand definitely helps – it reassures people that we’re professional. We also offer insurance and pet first aid and that really helps to push us above the competition.
“For the future, I would like to grow my business steadily. I want to see how my first territory goes before expanding into another. I also want to expand on the pet sitting side of things more because I don’t think people in my area are as aware that I do that.”