How to choose the right pet franchise | dog care franchises in the UK

How to choose a franchise...

Lisa Suswain, Wagging Tails
Monday, September 3, 2018

Things you should consider to ensure that you get the business that is right for YOU...

The recent #FranchiseAppreciationDay got me thinking about how many more franchise opportunities there are than when we started franchising 8 years ago. Although I wasn’t keen to franchise (yes you heard that right! I’ll come to that later!), eight years down the line I see first-hand on a daily basis the difference franchising is having on so many people’s lives.

I am a member of many online dog related groups and know how many people try to set up a dog boarding company. Many are struggling and many do fail. Not because they don’t love dogs or don’t have their best interests at heart but because deep down they’re not an entrepreneur. They know what the benefits are to running their own business but they don’t have the experience of working for themselves and in many cases the information and support to know how to set up their own business in the first place.

Our franchisees have this in common, they all acknowledge that either that didn’t have the expertise to set up their own business or when they were looking at franchise opportunities our method was exactly the way they would want to operate, from both business and ethical considerations; so why try to re-invent the wheel!

Wagging Tails Franchisee Kevin Wright with his dogs Abbie and Roly"I liked the idea of running my own business, but I'm no Alan Sugar, so the idea of a franchise appealed to me. I looked through many different opportunities but, as a dog lover, Wagging Tails really stood out for me. It was an established, successful and, importantly, ethical business. "

Kevin Wright

Wagging Tails Franchisee, St Albans

So with more franchises on the market how does a potential franchisee decipher what is the right option for them? Why did our franchisees choose us? 

  • Firstly you need to choose a sector you are passionate about, after all chances are you’re leaving your current role because you don’t enjoy it, so this is your chance to do something you love, something that doesn’t feel like work! 
  • Nail down exactly how you want to work. Are you happy to be out driving visiting people (what’s known in the industry as a ‘Man in a Van’ Franchise) or are you someone who would prefer to work from home and decide your own schedule? Perhaps running a team just as our franchisees manage their team of Carers – this is known as a ‘Management Franchise’. To help you decide which is right for you consider why you are leaving your current role and what you are wanting to get away from and what you are wanting to achieve. If you are looking for a lifestyle change as well as a good income then perhaps being able to set your own schedule might be best for you, alternatively if you are happy to be driving across your territory at times set by someone else then that may be the best route for you. 
  • Then it’s time to see what companies have franchise opportunities running the type of service you would like to supply. At this stage really investigate the business model and service you’d be supplying, see if it’s aligned with your own ethics as you will only remain passionate about a business if it is something you really believe in. 
  • Speak to the Franchisor. It sounds obvious but we tend to live in an age where everything is done by email but what can you really gauge by email? Well you can get the facts but can you get a feel for the person you’d be working with?
  • Speak to existing franchisees. Most franchisors will be happy for you to speak to any of their franchisees – be wary should a franchisor steer you away from certain franchisees! Most franchisees will want to know you’ve signed a confidentiality agreement before they speak to you in any depth – after all they have bought into the trade secrets that makes their business a success! Look at the bigger picture – how long has the company been franchising, are they BFA accredited, are they members of Trading Standards, do they have lots of franchised branches that they sold off very cheaply? All of these questions will help you to get a better idea of that company. For instance being a full BFA member means you can't claim earnings that haven't been proven by a number of the company's existing franchisees - reassuring that you will be presented with actual (rather than potential) figures which have been achieved by people who were in your position and became franchisees. If a company isn’t a member of the BFA perhaps question could this be because they can’t prove these earnings? We had a franchisee join us over a competitor company because she could see that they had almost word for word copied what we did and they were selling franchises off for a few thousand pounds. She told us that she had little faith in that company because of this. Whereas our franchises have been valued this told her that the other company was just looking to make quick sales and get as many franchisees on board quickly whilst claiming figures of earnings based on potential rather than proven success. 
  • How successful is the franchise and the franchisees? Have they won awards in their own right? How long have they been operating? Have franchisees renewed their contracts? These sort of questions can help you to determine if it’s the right place to be investing your future. 
  • Remember, success is down to you! Finally franchising isn’t a get rich quick scheme! No reputable franchise can guarantee success because as Franchisors although we will provide you with all the tools of trade, allow you to hit the ground running and provide continuous support as you develop the business, it’s down to you to put the effort in and make your franchise a success. 


So perhaps you’re wondering about my comment at the start – that I didn’t want to franchise?!!! Well it’s true. I set up Wagging Tails to fulfil a demand for this service in my local area and personally delivered the service that I would want for my dog to fellow dog owners. Not by acting as a middle man and matching owners with hosts and being a go between, I was actually the Dog Carer who looked after the dogs. I did this because I love dogs and I didn’t want to see them go into kennels. I strongly believe that it is better for dogs to be boarded on an exclusive basis and that the people caring for the dogs need to be home-based, experienced past dog owners who understand what is required to give the very best care to dogs living as part of their family. 

The reason in the end I “had” to franchise was the demand from owners across the UK. We’ve had owners drive down from Scotland to board with us, even going so far as driving over from Mainland Spain! The demand was so high that I needed like-minded people to operate the Wagging Tails service in their local areas.That demand continues today. As more pet care franchises come to the market place and the attitude to dog care and welfare improves, more people are looking for an alternative to traditional kennels or relying on family and friends. Owners don’t want to compromise on their pets care and this includes not paying unnecessary fees, being able to see where their dog will be staying and having the opportunity to get to know the people caring for their dog. In addition they want the peace of mind of a professionally run service and features such as paying a deposit to secure their dog's carer, and knowing the balance will be paid before the board (rather than the messy and sometimes awkward business of owners paying carers in cash) reinforce this. Dog owners are looking for a reputable company, that operates ethically and can prove their credentials and for prospective franchisees this needs to be taken into consideration when choosing between companies.

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

Steve Jobs

If you are ready to move forward and wish to discuss our franchise opportunity in more detail give us a call on 01725 518 153 or email Jim (my husband and fellow company Director),, or myself via . Alternatively visit our website for further information. 

We look forward to hearing from you! 

Lisa, Jim, Lottie, Clara and Chester. 

Wagging Tails Head Office. 

Owner of beloved Golden Retrievers, Lottie and Clara, Lisa Suswain is the Founding Director of home dog boarding franchise Wagging Tails and a Kennel Club Assured Breeder.