What to Consider When Buying a Pet Franchise

You love animals. So do we! But what makes for a good investment in the pet industry? 

There are a lot of ways to invest your money, from stocks to products to owning your own pet-related business. If you’re not sure where to start, looking at pet franchises may be a smart place, as the opportunities run the gamut from grooming to veterinary services. 

But with so many options, how do you identify the solid opportunities that suit your needs? 

Well that’s exactly what we’re here for. Here are the top factors to consider. 

Recession Resistance

People love their pets like they love their kids (well, maybe not exactly as much, but you get the point). But does that mean all pet franchises are pretty safe bets during a recession? Not exactly. 

Pet food and veterinary services are necessities, but grooming, training, and boarding are less likely to weather a storm, as they’re luxury items. When money gets tight, consumers tend to cut out some of their discretionary spending. That means owners may be willing to let their dog’s scruff get a little longer and dirtier than they normally would, or just try the DIY approach that’s been a classic TV sitcom trope for decades. Traveling less and working from home (or not at all) means boarding and dog-walking are no longer needed. 

Necessities like pet food and wellness are top of mind for animal parents regardless of how tight cash may get. Now, they may choose to downgrade their chow or choose a lower-cost veterinarian, but it’s unlikely these products and services get cut out entirely. 

A great example is PetWellClinic, a walk-in veterinarian franchise that shows positive growth from 2019 to 2020 (as disclosed in Item 19 of the current FDD) despite the pandemic. 

This brand didn’t just weather the storm, it grew substantially amidst it. PetWell is able to offer more affordable pricing to dog and cat owners because it doesn’t subscribe to the one-size-fits-all model of the traditional vet which offers surgery, radiology, and dentistry.  Without all of the expensive equipment and additional space needed, overhead is lower, and they can offer vaccines, wellness exams, preventative and sick care at more affordable prices. 

Simple Business Model

Jack-in-the-Box sells burgers, tacos, and teriyaki bowls off a menu that requires a nap halfway through. In-N-Out sells burgers only and you need only choose between 3 options. Both concepts are clearly successful, but which model do you think is easier to operate? 

The same is true for pet franchises. There are many successful models out there, but there is a range of complexity to consider. For example, Camp Bow Wow offers doggy daycare, overnight boarding, training, grooming, in-home pet care, dog walking, and pet waste removal services. A lot of diverse services to the same audience of dog owners is appealing, but you need a lot of different experts or willingness to be an expert yourself and train the right people for a myriad of services. If that’s your forte, it may be the right franchise for you. If you prefer simple operations, however, you may find yourself more attracted to other opportunities. 

Technology and Ingenuity

It’s no secret that technology is integrated into our lives more and more each day. And it’s even more important when you’re a business owner. The technology that runs the business, from your Point of Sale to your reporting capabilities to your customer facing systems, are all immensely important. Make sure you choose a pet franchise that has proprietary or unique technology that meets all of your needs as a business owner and cannot be easily replicated by a competitor. 

Speaking of replication, consider the uniqueness of the pet franchise you’re considering. Is it just another doggie daycare with a better brand name and marketing? Or is the business model and customer offering truly something different than everything else that is out there? Either of those scenarios can lead to success. After all, if there’s little competition today, eventually it will come and when your business is no longer unique, you need to be able to go head to head to provide better marketing, branding, and service to the consumer. 

PetWellClinic, mentioned above, is an example of a pet franchise that offers both proprietary technology and a very unique offering. It is one of the first and only walk-in veterinary clinics in the country. The vast majority of veterinary practices require appointments, sometimes weeks in advance. PetWell, however, only takes walk-ins and capitalizes on a culture shift toward on-demand services and instant gratification. 

How do they do it? Technology and streamlined operations built off of that technology. 

Busy pet owners can pre register online while they’re at work, show up an hour later and simply enter their name when they arrive with no paperwork. That’s a franchise putting its paws forward with smart technology. 

Choosing Opportunities Wisely

Pet franchises are hot right now and there are a lot of options to sort through. Do your due diligence, and ask yourself along the way: Is this business essential and recession resistant? Are the operations simple? Is there anything truly unique about the business, including technology?

Of course, there are many other factors, but stick to those questions first and you’ll be able to narrow it down to a few winners before you really dig into due diligence. 

Good luck! May you find a pet franchise you love as much as your pet itself.

For more information on PetWellClinic, visit

Joe Sexton is the Senior Director of Development at Oakscale, where he focuses on implementing marketing and sales strategies to drive growth for the portfolio of franchise brands.
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