No time to paws for pet business

Sam Watts
Sam Watts

Business is booming for a company which looks after man’s best friend.

Barton Seagrave-based Doggies Day Out, which offers dog boarding, grooming, walking, home visits and training as well as pet photography, has seen an increase in business since it launched a franchising opportunity earlier this year.

Sam Watts and his in-laws Michelle and Brian Bratley bought a dog walking business called Doggies Day Out in September 2010, and Sam was given the job of advertising and promoting the business so it could provide a living for the three of them.

The three owners had always intended to grow the business into a brand and Sam set about teaching himself how franchises are constructed and sold. In February this year the Doggies Day Out franchise package was launched. Sam said: “Since the launch of the Doggies Day Out franchise package at the National Franchise Exhibition in February we have seen a huge demand for our brand.

“Prior to setting off on the franchising journey we had two branches; we now have five further outlets in Northamptonshire and surrounding areas, with talks at an advanced stage to complete two more, which will see full coverage achieved in Northamptonshire.”

Eventually Sam wants to expand the brand nationally and said: “I want us to become the biggest pet care service provider in the UK.”

His dream of expanding nationwide has been boosted by a deal with pet store Just For Pets which will see the brand in many of its 21 stores, starting with Northampton on September 9. Under the deal, Doggies Day Out will offer dog grooming services in the larger stores. In smaller stores where space is at a premium, the firm will offer mobile dog grooming services.

Sam has also recently relaunched the company’s website, after designing and setting up the first one himself.

He said: “The new-look website has just gone live, and it’s way better. It showcases our increased range of services much better than the old site.”

The company has always been keen to help give young people job opportunities and Sam said: “We have just been approved to offer government-backed apprenticeships which is great as it goes hand-in-hand with our existing work experience programme which we run in partnership with the Jobcentre Plus, Connexions Northamptonshire and Moulton College.

“It’s always been important to me to look to nurture and enhance the great talent that can be found in the local workforce, and with it being a tough time for younger people entering the jobmarket in particular, I’m delighted we’ve developed our apprenticeship scheme.”

He added: “Our aim is to become a truly ‘one stop shop’ for pet owners and we constantly look to develop our range of services to meet customer requirements. However, we are taking a calm, considered approach to our growth so that we do not lose our identity as a family business where the care and love for the pets we look after comes first.”