Today, leaders around the world consider franchising as a proven way to expand their businesses. However, being a franchise business owner is not as easy as it was years before. A budding franchise owner has to have qualities like passion, determination, grit, and hard work.
“Understand that your success means nothing unless your franchisees are successful. A franchisee that fails is 100% on the shoulders of a franchisor. Strong, smart, sound leadership makes for a successful franchise system,” says Paul Allen (Founder and CEO at Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming). Thriving amid the increasing competition, Paul has made his mark as one of the significant leaders in the U.S. Pet Care franchising industry.
Paul, alongside his wife Cara, founded Woof Gang Bakery in 2007 with a vision to create the type of pet retail and grooming store—providing personalized service—that they wanted themselves and for their dogs. The company provides a convenient solution to serve all pet care needs—from treats, essentials and accessories, to nutrition and professional pet grooming. The duo envisioned a brand that is “Your neighborhood pet store” and that concept has remained their priority since the company’s inception.
Today, Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming is the leading specialty retailer of pet food, pet supplies, and professional pet grooming in North America. The company has 150 locations across the U.S. and each location is a one-stop-shop for everyday pet care, nutrition, and pampering. As the company’s “top dog,” Paul has played an instrumental role in the exponential growth of the company over the years.
In an intriguing conversation with Mirror Review, Paul shed light upon how he successfully led the company to become one of the best in business. Here are some of the snippets from the conversation.
What are the factors that distinguish Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming from its competitors?
We know that we must stay relevant in the ever-changing pet industry. One example of such relevancy in action is our strategy to open franchises within local communities and establishing Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming locations as “Your neighborhood pet store” —a term we trademarked as this concept is a guiding principle that distinguishes our brand.
Our customers and their beloved pets are the priority and our stores are owned and operated by members of their communities. Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming franchise owners are local residents—your friends and neighbors. They are trusted, they provide personalized service, and they earn the loyalty and support of their customers.
Customer satisfaction is paramount for a successful business. How will you describe your customer experience?
Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming customers are knowledgeable pet owners and want the best for their pets. They understand pet wellness and make pet health a priority. Our grooming clientele genuinely appreciates the personal attention and caring services provided by our amazing professional groomers. Our franchise owners, groomers, and retail associates are integral members of their communities. They share our customer-focused business approach and love dogs as much as we do. Our goal is to continue to grow within the pet sector.
What were the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on your business?
For Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming, 2020 was a record year in terms of sales, dogs groomed, and store growth. The average per-store revenue was up by more than 23% over 2019. Moreover, in 2020, Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming hit a notable business milestone with more than 1 million dogs groomed across the system.
How did your franchisees manage to tackle the unprecedented situation?
This past year, we turned the mandatory adjustments into opportunities for improvement. As a franchisor, we adapted and responded to the needs of our franchise owners. What franchisees needed and wanted last year, was different than before. The new day-to-day hurdles and immediate needs never existed before. We assisted and supported our franchisees through these all-new challenges.
Our franchisees are an extraordinary group. They managed to pivot, adapt, and lead the pack in implementing new operational procedures and service practices. This enabled stores across our system to stay open, re-open, and serve customers with a high standard of care and expertise.
What is your primary focus as the leader of the company? Please mention some remarkable feats throughout your career.
The key focus for me is staying attuned and responsive to the market demand. I always strive to evolve and advance the Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming model to ensure our franchisees stay relevant in the ever-changing pet care industry. Continuing to develop and build solid franchisor/franchisee platforms and infrastructure is an ongoing priority.
I take pride in having launched Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming with no outside backer or financial investor and growing the company to become the eighth largest pet retailer in North America. Our biggest achievement is reflected in the success of our franchisees.
As a growing franchise, how do you keep up with the changing market trends?
The decision to introduce professional pet grooming to our business model 10 years ago was the key factor driving our exponential growth. By listening and responding to market demand, we realized that this foundation of service would be a core element in storefront success.
We understand that now is the best time for storefront franchises to expand retail operations. We recognize opportunities with “mom and pop” stores that are passionate about the pet industry and great ambassadors within their communities. However, due to a lack of services, they fail to compete with online retailers. This allows us to work with these local businesses, enabling them to thrive within the pet industry and become a part of our franchise system.
What can we expect from Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming in the near future?
In the coming years, we will build on our grooming success and have sights on opening stand-alone Woof Gang Grooming locations. We are looking at enhanced wellness care and veterinary services to better serve the health, happiness, and well-being of pets. We will continue to collaborate with and give back to our local communities and local pet rescue organizations.
Why become a Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming Franchise?
- Fast-growing pet care market
- A remarkably high demand for products and services
- A Proven business model for success, support, and infrastructure
- Mentorship and Assistance every step of the way
- Substantial incentives
- Opportunity to operate a store in your neighborhood
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