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Melbourne, Australia

Interview with Christian Rowell of DOGUE, Sydney

An Australian Franchisee Case Study


Name: Christian Rowell
Location: Sydney
Franchise: Dogue Zetland

Why did you go down the franchise route? And why did you choose your franchise?

I was looking for a change from the corporate life after 18 years. Keen to learn a new ‘trade’ and set up my own business I wanted to find a new challenge in my life, and one which I could leverage off those skills I had learnt over the last 18 years of my career. I actually got to know Dogue before I knew about the franchise opportunity. My own dog, Hugo, was using Dogue Bondi for grooming and day care services. Through him I actually got to know the brand, staff and process which I immediately thought was an inspiring boutique business. This pre-empted my discussions with Margaret Hennessey, retail CEO, and explore opportunities with the brand. Margaret and I discussed in detail the franchise opportunity. I was so taken with the model that I made the informed decision to take up the challenge and opportunity to establish my own boutique within an agreed exclusive marketing zone.

What did you do before taking up a franchise?

I spent 18 years in the corporate and investment banking sector. Starting in Accounting and moving into business planning and then client relationship management roles I worked in London, New York, Hong Kong and Sydney before deciding to make the sea change to something entirely different and a new challenge and chapter.

What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?

Dogue offered a robust training model and framework in the build up to the launch of the boutique. As well as having an opportunity to experience a ‘day in the life’ of a Dogue boutique we had two separate weeks to cover firstly orientation and then induction training. Orientation covered all skill sets around operational, sales and marketing. The induction training was in-house at the new boutique to go through, hands on, the day to day operational, grooming and customer experience prior to the launch.

What challenges have you faced?

The main challenge that I faced as a new start up franchisee is site selection. Finding and understanding the appropriate location and demographic is key to help in the success of the business. The site selection survey provided by Dogue HQ was a crucial tool to assist in this process. Whilst finding the right site took time it was time well spent and, in the long term, hopefully well invested.

Has becoming a franchisee changed your life, if so how?

Totally. Being caught up in the corporate ‘swirl’ is far from the experience I have had being a franchisee. The ‘360’ model required to become a franchisee gives you control and ownership of the business and making it grow. The sense of reward is far more satisfying and knowing that you have the strength of a unique brand behind you provides that added layer of support and confidence with a successfully well-developed and already established business model.

What marketing/promotional tools do you use to grow your franchise?

Being a franchise enables a two pronged approach with marketing. Firstly, we are given a group marketing strategy to focus on which is provided per semester to all franchisees with a new strategy/focus for each month. This provides a monthly focus for your business and almost creates a monthly ‘re-energiser’ for your boutique and for your clients to see and feel the dynamic nature of your business. Secondly, each franchisee submits their own local area marketing plan each semester. This is a real chance for us to nuance our marketing towards our specific locale and demographic. Tools used include local media, advertising and promotional strategies specifically relating to your own boutique.

What differentiates your franchise from the competition?

Differentiating factors would include:

– A unique brand, offering a holistic destination for dogs and their needs
– That ‘special’ touch is provided across all service areas of the business
– A high–end product and service offering (which is still competitively priced) that is not experienced from other providers and which is portrayed through the customer and canine interaction from all Dogue’s staff
– A ‘one of a kind’ boutique feel which no canine could refuse

In your opinion, what makes a successful franchisee?

Attributes to make a successful franchisee for Dogue would include:

• A passion for Dogs
• A passion for the brand
• Very strong client management skills
• Very strong business management skills
• Hard working and willing to give their all to make the boutique a reality and a success

What advice would you give to someone thinking of buying their first franchise?

My advice would be to consider and apply the following:

• Be informed about the risk and return
• Understand just what franchising is and how a franchise model operates
• Have a passion for the brand – products, services, customers and clients
• Be prepared to work very very hard – both pre and post the business launch. Site selection, business planning, launch and ongoing management require commitment and time

What are your plans for the future?

Focus right now is on the franchise and its success. One cannot become complacent once a boutique opens and the initial start-up appears strong. It’s all about focus on the customer and client satisfaction as well as ongoing medium and long term panning that will ensure the future returns.

Would you do it again?

Yes. The sense of satisfaction and reward from the planning and establishing the new business is second to none. With the support of a strong franchisor and support from friends and family it has, so far, been a very exciting journey. A must have is a passion and believe in the brand. I would certainly do it again.

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