Joanne Davies, 43, changed her career in 2009 to become the owner of Petpals Salisbury, after spending nearly 20 years working in offices.
Born in Portsmouth, Joanne couldn’t wait to get working when she left school and immediately embarked on a couple of the then-named Youth Training Schemes (YTS), first as a chef and then in photography. With a bit of work experience under her belt at the age of 20 she moved to Salisbury with her boyfriend.
“I went for an interview at a well known car rental franchise and got the job,” Joanne says. “I became the manager, running the office and absolutely loved it. I was on the go all the time and stayed there for 10 years.”
Joanne decided she was ready for a change after meeting her current partner, Leon Antone, at the rental company and began working for a local pension company. “At first I didn’t like it as it was entirely office-based, but after a while I really began to enjoy it and worked my way up to team leader.”
Seven years on, the company was bought out and Joanne didn’t enjoy working under the new management so started to look around for new opportunities.
She explains: “I’m an animal lover, and have always had cats, mice, rabbits and rodents as well as a dog when I was younger. A friend of mine had used Petpals and mentioned them to me. I looked it up online and couldn’t believe that such a business existed! I thought, ‘that’s the job for me’.”
“I contacted Petpals head office, filled out the necessary application forms and was then sent on a Discovery Day with an existing franchise owner which gave me a really good insight into what is involved on a day-to-day basis.
“It was all very useful hands-on experience and really helped me to make my mind up. And once my mind is made up there is no stopping me!”
Petpals encourage all potential franchisees to do their homework and some market research in their area, until they are sure it’s the right business for them. Joanne spent a couple of months researching and then spent time at Petpals head office receiving training in every aspect of running the business from marketing, bookkeeping and invoicing to health & safety, and dog training. In January 2009 Joanne began trading as Petpals Salisbury and was accompanied during her launch week by an existing franchisee for additional support.
“It may sound silly but it takes time and skill to learn how to walk more than one dog at a time! It was really helpful to have someone by my side giving me the benefit of their experience,” she says.
“People had been contacting me before I started, so I already had customers and hit the ground running so to speak.
“It’s very different from anything I’ve done before but is the best job I’ve ever had. I get to spend all day with animals and I love all the exercise and fresh air. My customers are so appreciative and their feedback makes it even more satisfying. I look after their animals as I would want someone to look after mine.”
Joanne already had extensive experience of working within a franchise operation, for the car rental company, so had a good idea of what franchising was about. She says: “The main positives about franchising are that you get a really strong brand name that people recognise and if, like me, you don’t know how to run your own business, they will teach you and support you. They do all sorts of things like working on your Google rankings to make sure you stay at the top of the list. I wouldn’t have time to do that. It’s just good to know there is someone there if and when you need them.”
Joanne now employs a strong team of eight to cover Salisbury and the area to the north. She simply loves her customers and their animals and has no desire to change anything!