Posted: Nov. 10, 2011, 7:10 p.m. EST
In its first new franchising activity in two years, dog daycare provider Dogtopia unveiled today four new franchise agreements. With the new facilities, Dogtopia will operate 28 locations in 11 states, mostly in the mid-Atlantic area near the company’s Bethesda, Md., headquarters, the company reported.
The company decided a couple years ago to focus on improving existing stores and offerings rather than trying to expand in a difficult economy, said Mike Schlegel, vice president of franchise development, noting that lending sources had dried up for entrepreneurs.
The company’s efforts on improving offerings included bringing franchise development in-house in 2011 under Schlegel, who previously focused exclusively on site development, including real estate and space planning. His understanding of Dogtopia’s operations, marketing efforts, and site development provide him an advantage over an external broker in screen prospective owners for the Dogtopia model.
|Dogtopia VP of franchise development Mike Schlegel.
“We’re in a great place now to expand the reach of our brand and services into more communities,” Schlegel said.
Efforts to strengthen store operations have resulted in strong outlets and happy unit owners for Schlegel to show prospective franchisees, he added.
Dogtopia will focus on growing in its existing markets. Aside from its core concentration from New Jersey down the coast to North Carolina, the company has three locations in both Texas and California and single locations in or near Chicago, Denver, Omaha, Neb., and Nashville, Tenn.
The new agreements are for locations in that core mid-Atlantic area and include Dogtopia’s first multi-unit owner, Amber Sutton.
Sutton, who owns a facility in Woodbridge, Va., has signed an agreement to open a second facility in Springfield, Va., in early 2012.
Two other existing franchises are close to adding additional locations, Schlegel said, noting Dogtopia would like to see much of its growth come from existing owners.
“A lot are now in their third year of operations,” he said. “It’s a good time to consider adding a location.”
Also slated to open in early 2012, Bob and Mary Beth Murphy have agreed to open a location in Midlothian, Va.
Tammy Holm and daughter Christine, customers of the Dogtopia in Wilmington, Del., signed an agreement to open a Dogtopia in South Wilmington in 2012. This will be Delaware’s second Dogtopia.
|Dog daycare chain Dogtopia has signed four new franchise deals.
Also, Adrienne Taub Weber signed a deal to open a location in Union City, N.J., in 2012.
In related news, Amy Nichols, founder and CEO of Dogtopia, expects to bring a pet care product to market in the first quarter of 2012. The product was developed to fill a need at Dogtopia and is expected to be marketed to other daycare and boarding facilities as well as dog owners for home use, Schlegel said.
He declined to share additional details about the product, which is still under development.
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