In Home Pet Services is a low investment, home-based pet sitting & dog walking franchise for animal lovers that has received high praise from its franchisees and customers (both human and furry – see the numerous comments on the In Home Pet Services listing). Founded by former zookeeper Robyn Elman, In Home Pet Services enables individuals to enter the booming pet services industry with complete in-depth training, unparalleled support, an exclusive territory and more.
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Top New Franchises spoke with In Home Pet Services founder Robyn Elman about her popular and growing pet service franchise.
Top New Franchises: How do you describe the In Home Pet Services franchise concept?
Robyn Elman: If you love animals and have the desire and motivation to be your own boss than this is the franchise concept for you! We take animal lovers with or without business backgrounds and experience and fully train them to be successful in this field. The franchise concept is simple – we provide affordable and reliable daily care and pet sitting visits for all pets in the clients’ homes. We also offer optional services such as in-home boarding & daycare.
Top New Franchises: Why did you first start In Home Pet Services?
Robyn Elman: I’ve always had a passion for animals, from my first job in a pet store, to Zookeeper at the Bronx Zoo. I have also always had a stong entrepreneurial drive – from the standard ice-tea stand (where I made my parents buy the supplies to maximize profits 😉 ), to a ty beanie babies business. When I was unfulfilled in my current career as a zookeeper, I knew I just had to take a leap to combine my two passions. I did a lot of reading/research, designed advertising materials, and starting advertising dog walking and pet sitting services.
My business quickly grew due to my hard work and dedication and I began hiring staff and growing the company. I loved being my own boss and seeing the business grow. My favorite part of the business was how happy I was making people, by providing them with not only an affordable option to care for their pets, but a way to make their lives easier by enabling them to go away on vacations or stay late at work without worrying about their furry kids at home.
The biggest challenge I faced (besides the occasional dog that wanted to rip me to shreds), was hiring staff and choosing the right people to keep my high standards – a challenge which I think every business owner faces.
Top New Franchises: What led you to decide on franchising as the way to grow your business?
Robyn Elman: There are two main reasons I decided to take In Home Pet Services to a franchise. As my business grew, I constantly received requests from clients outside the service areas I was able to cover. People went so far as to literally beg us to come to them. I knew that the only way to be able to provide more clients in other areas with the same level of care was to franchise. That way, each franchisee can be local to their area, providing a higher level of service to clients and their pets.
The second reason I decided to offer franchises is that I wanted to provide franchisees an opportunity that I didn’t have – to have a successful business in the pet industry with the support and backing they need. If this franchise opportunity was available to me when I first started, I would have jumped on it.
Top New Franchises: When did you launch the franchise program? How many franchises are up and running? How fast do you want to grow?
Robyn Elman: We had all our franchise documents and registrations in place in 2005. It took us a little over 2 years to get our first franchisee in 2008, in Brooklyn, NY and we now have 4 franchised locations, and 1 company owned location all here in the New York area. Our focus is on slower growth, so we can provide each new franchisee with all our resources, undivided attention, and support. Our ideal model is to have a new franchise location every 4 months – so approximately 3 new franchises a year.
Top New Franchises: Where are you looking to expand? What types of markets and demographics work best for In Home Pet Services?
Robyn Elman: We have been very successful the way we have been expanding – each franchisee to date is in the NYC & Long Island areas. In NY, we are looking to expand to western Queens, other areas of Long Island, and Westchester County. We are also eager to open locations in NJ and have been registered in CA for the past few years. CA has similar areas to where we have been currently successful. Our model works best in metropolitan & suburban middle class areas.
Top New Franchises: What is the need in the marketplace that In Home Pet Services franchise owners will meet?
Robyn Elman: There are so many pet sitting & dog walking services out there. We provide clients with affordable (key), practical, and reliable care for their pets. The way we run our business leads us to be able to fulfill all our clients’ needs – from a last minute late night or weekend visit, to picking up their pet from the vet and we make it effortless for them to contact us and book appointments. Through our amazing website, social media outlets, participation in networking groups, and working with not-for-profits in the community, new clients can get to know us even before our first meeting.
Top New Franchises: What are the backgrounds of some of your franchise owners?
Robyn Elman: Our franchisees come from all different backgrounds. Andrea in Brooklyn was the previous owner of a children’s daycare, our first franchisee previously owned a photo store, and our 2 newest franchisees were staff members of our company!
Top New Franchises: What qualities are important to you in selecting new franchisees for your system?
Robyn Elman: We look for outgoing pet lovers with the drive and motivation to succeed and thrive as a small business owner. We want someone who is willing to be hands-on in the business and not an absentee franchisee. A passion for pets and the desire to grow their business is key. Our franchisees do not need to come from a business background or a professional animal background because we provide full, comprehensive training in all aspects of the business, including advertising, accounting, hiring & training staff, pet care, etc. Some level of physical fitness is important, as it can be a physically demanding job at times. Clients want to be confident their pet can be handled and exercised in the manner they desire.
Top New Franchises: Let’s talk marketing. How do In Home Pet Services franchise owners attract new customers? How do they create repeat business?
Robyn Elman: Well, that information is some of our best kept secrets Sean!
Top New Franchises: Of the training and support services you provide franchisees, which do you think are most valuable to their long-term success?
Robyn Elman: Hands down, our unlimited ongoing support has been the most valuable tool for them. Even our first franchisees have questions or concerns that come up and call or email us. We also continually update our franchisee with new information, tools, and new ideas & technology which helps them to stay current and fresh in the industry. We have a yearly holiday party which is a great way for franchisees and staff to get together and exchange ideas and we also try to have one large staff meeting a year which is optional for the franchisees to attend – although now with facetime (yep – I’m now an ipad2 user!) and skype and video conferencing services, it’s easier than ever for multiple people to connect and exchange ideas and information.
Top New Franchises: What role does technology play in your organization?
Robyn Elman: A big one! To compete in any business, being technologically savvy has its advantages. From mobile email and texting, to social media, to using the right software & phone systems. By staying on top of all the latest technology, we have not only been able to make the lives of our clients easier (making them even more satisfied with our company and services,) but have been able to outcompete other companies in the industry who aren’t as familiar or comfortable with the newest trends. If any franchisee is lacking in skills in any of these areas, we provide additional (free) training until they are comfortable and excited about what new technology has to offer them.
Top New Franchises: What makes In Home Pet Services different from other franchise opportunities? What do you think are its unique advantages?
Robyn Elman: We differ from other similar franchise opportunities concepts in several ways. First, we have a very hands-on approach to our training. All training is done at our Queens, NY headquarters. This is a very personal business and we feel that over the phone/video training is not appropriate. Each franchisee gets their own private training week and it is tailored around their specific individual strengths and weaknesses.
All franchisees are required to live within their service areas/territory – something which we believe is crucial. All our franchisees get trained in Pet First Aid & CPR as part of our program. We also offer unlimited support at anytime – and this isn’t just a saying – it’s our practice. Just ask our franchisees about the unbelievable and timely support they receive.
We have no monthly minimums for royalty fees, allowing franchisees to grow at their own rate. Plus, the website control and amenities that each franchise gets is truly the first of its kind in this field – including a mobile site for smartphones – the first dog walking/pet sitting service in the country one!
Check out our site to see for yourself!
Top New Franchises: What do you see as being the greatest non-financial rewards of being part of the In Home Pet Services franchise family?
Robyn Elman: This is my favorite question. I LOVE being able to have taken people who wanted to have their own business and work with animals, and help them be the successful business owner they always dreamed of being. This may sound a little corny but it’s the absolute truth This opportunity has changed their lives. This couldn’t be more true than with our latest 2 franchisees who were working as dog walkers for our company-owned location. They found a love and passion for their job and we were able to help them take that passion to the next level.
Top New Franchises: Robyn, thanks so much for sharing the story of the In Home Pet Services franchise
Robyn Elman: Thank you for the opportunity
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