Summer’s still long off, but the dog days are already here, and they’re far from over.
Brother duo Steven and Jason Parker are expanding Fanwood-based K9 Resorts Daycare and Luxury Hotel to six new locations in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
Specific New Jersey locations – two in Bergen County and one in Somerset County – will be announced later this year.
After running a profitable dog walking business through their teen years, employing others and servicing 100-plus homes a day, the duo opened up their first K9 Resorts Daycare and Luxury Hotel 14 years ago after stumbling upon a dog hotel and thinking they could do a better job.
“We thought, ‘What if we made a five-star option for dogs but really made it truly five star?’” Steven Parker said. “We modeled it after human five-star hotels like St. Regis and the Ritz Carlton. We spent from 2003 to 2005 studying super high-end dog hotels and super high-end people hotels.”
They’ve since turned it into a multi-million dollar enterprise.
After growing out of their original location—there was always a waiting list, Parker said—the pair started franchising in 2010. Currently there are 26 franchises sold with eight locations up and running, six of which are franchise-owned.
The goal is to open 200 locations in the next seven years, Parker said. But that’s not just growth for growth’s sake: it’s about taking care of the dogs, and keeping their owners happy, too.
“We don’t sell franchises, we award them to qualified candidates,” Parker said. “Obviously the most important thing is that they’re dog lovers.
“They also have to have some kind of business sense. They don’t need to have an MBA from Wharton or Harvard, but some,” he said. “And the other thing — you’ve gotta be a good, honest people person. You have to be interested in helping your employees grow.”
Just last week, the duo turned down someone who wanted in on the business, according to Parker. Total investment including hard and soft costs per franchise is $1.4 million, and this person wanted to buy two franchises with no need for financing.
“We didn’t think they’d be the right fit,” he said.
Most franchisees finance their business, he said. They’ll put 30 percent down and finance the rest with small business loans.
“This is really important to us,” Parker said. “We’re dog owners and dog lovers and business people as well, and we want to make sure our reputation is maintained.”
A location opened in Cherry Hill at the end of January, and on Feb. 24, a previously-franchise owned Hamilton location will re-open as a corporate store. The Apex, N.C. location will open next month.