Find A FranchiseFind A FranchiseFind A Franchise
Melbourne, Australia

Working with animals – a great bridge between the rat race and retirement

  • Home
  • Blog
  • Case Study
  • Working with animals – a great bridge between the rat race and retirement

An Australian Franchisee Case Study


Name: Kim and Michael Hurrell
Location: Murrumba Downs (Brisbane) QLD
Franchise: Paws Pet Sitters Murrumba Downs

Why did you go down the franchise route? And why did you choose your Paws Pet Sitters franchise?
Franchises seemed to us to be a safe middle ground alternative to starting out in a business. Exposure to excessive up-front costs was limited as the franchise was still relatively new but the paws Petsitters name was reasonably well established in the area – we had, coincidentally, used the Paws service a couple of years earlier and knew that they provided a good service.

The choice of a Paws franchise was probably more by luck than by design. As we said before, we had used Paws services in the past and we were in a period where Kim was unemployed and finding it difficult to get work. We saw an item in the regular Paws newsletter offering franchise opportunities. Kim was looking for something and, after some soul-searching, we realised that there were some benefits that we hadn’t yet considered in a Paws franchise – we could apply our previous customer service experience, we both loved animals (especially dogs), we would rather work outside than indoors and we could be own our own business while having the Paws experience to support us.

What did you do before taking up Paws Pet Sitters franchise?
Kim had spent 10 years in retail and Michael was a public servant after sending the first 20 years of his working life as a teacher. We have always owned pets (mainly dogs) but had no real experience in the professional pet-care business.

How did you raise the finance?
We were lucky. Paws was offering a limited number of ‘scholarships’ for people wanting to join their business. This meant that, after paying a deposit we were able to pay off the franchise fee through the franchisor paying us a regular ‘salary’ with all amounts earned above this salary amount being used to pay off the franchise fee. This worked for us as we would not have been able to find the upfront sum to pay the franchise fee. For the first couple of years Kim worked the business alone while Michael continued in his public service role as it was important that we had sufficient income to live comfortably during the period in which we were paying off the franchise fee.

What training and support did you receive initially and ongoing?
Initial training was 2 – 3 weeks in the Paws head office salon where the basic skills of handling and bathing dogs was taught. We were also taught to use Paws’ computer system. Following that was another 4 weeks on the road with an experienced hydrobather before we were allowed to go out on our own.

Since the initial training, Kim has been given additional training in dog grooming and is currently completing the accredited training as a groomer. (All Paws franchisees are fully accredited through a nationally recognised training course. This is a real point of difference between Paws and other pet care providers.) Paws also arranges regular quality checks for its franchisees to ensure that the required standards are maintained.

What is a typical day for you as a Paws Pet Sitters franchisee?
It varies but most days include a number of dog hydrobaths and, usually, one or two grooms. Other services offered by Paws , such as dog walking, pet sitting, pet minding or delivery of pet care products occur less regularly but are an important addition to the full range of services that the franchise offers.

The day end with an update of the computer records of the day’s activities and sending out reminders of our upcoming visit to the next day’s clients.

Most days are a pretty full 8 hours.

What challenges have you faced?
The biggest challenge was having the confidence to take on a franchise business again after having been previously burnt by an unsuccessful franchise business some years earlier. In that instance we were not located in the same state as the franchisor and lacked the support we needed to get our business up and running. With Paws, our territory is quite close to the Paws head office so we were confident that support would be available as required.

As the Paws brand grows and becomes national, Paws is developing a strong support system for all of its franchisees regardless of location.

Has becoming a Paws Pet Sitters franchisee changed your life, if so how?
Owning a Paws franchise has been very rewarding. We now have a steady income stream and a valuable asset (a reputable brand and a valuable client list) that we can either continue to run for as long as we please or can on-sell if and when we want.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of buying their first franchise?
Do your homework. Check out the options fully before committing to anything. Make sure that the lifestyle that comes with the franchise will suit you. Ask yourself questions such as: Would you rather work indoors or outdoors? Do you like dealing with people or not? What sort of time commitment are you prepared to give? What sort of income are you looking for? How much do you have to invest? Does the franchisor’s package stack up (if necessary, be prepared to pay for good, independent advice)?

What are your plans for the future?
We are in a different age group to most other Paws franchisees with Kim in her mid 50’s and Michael in his early 60’s. While most Paws franchisees intend to continue in their business for many years, our current expectation is to use the business as a transition to retirement strategy. Our options are to either sell the business as a going concern or to employ someone on a salary to work our business for us. The first option gives us the benefit of a lump sum while the latter option has the benefit of providing us with an on-going income stream into our retirement. We don’t feel any pressure to make this decision yet.

Would you do it again?
Absolutely. Some days are quite tiring (more a reflection of our age than of the work) but the lifestyle, the income, the wonderful people (and animals) that we meet every day of the week are more than enough reward. Our biggest regret? That we didn’t start this many years earlier.