Eric and Mike, Camp Bow Wow Columbia
With all the negative press about the economy and its affect on small business owners, you may not be surprised to hear the phrase, “My business has gone to the dogs.” But for a couple of first-time entrepreneurs, the dog business has meant great business for them.
Eric Neumann and Michael Domingues are the owners of Camp Bow Wow, a dog boarding and day care business located in Columbia, Maryland. The aspiring entrepreneurs sought a venture that would allow them to pare their desire to open their own business with their passion for dogs. After much research and discussion, Eric and Mike landed on Camp Bow Wow, a national franchise establishment that just celebrated its 10th anniversary and currently has over 107 camps throughout the country.
When asked why they decided to go with a franchise, Mike responded, “Because we haven't opened a business before, we liked that we would be provided assistance in many of the setup, logistics, and training that are entailed in opening a new business. We also liked having the national name recognition, an established company with an already proven successful concept." These are the primary reasons that franchises are popular, especially with first-time business owners.
But there are some former franchise owners who feel they didn’t receive all the support that is promised to them during the prospecting phase. Mike says, “We definitely received a tremendous amount of training in the beginning and continue to receive operational support. Much like everything else, you get out what you put in to it. You cannot expect that when you buy a franchise everything will be done for you. There are still many challenges that you will face regardless. The best thing about being a part of a franchise is that you have a huge network of people that are in varying stages of the process. There is always someone that is going through similar challenges and being able to draw upon their experiences provides a wealth of resources and support.”
Even after selecting their franchise, it still took about a year to get the business ready for operation. One of the most challenging aspects was locating a landlord willing to lease space for a multiple dog facility. Camp Bow Wow Columbia opened its doors in August 2008, just as the economic downturn was about to hit its lowest points. Even though the pet industry remained strong during the recession, Eric and Mike developed their own stimulus packages to keep their current customers and entice new customers into joining their doggy family, such as special discounts and incentives. Neumann and Domingues persevered through the initial two years of business and continue to find creative ways to provide customer experiences not found at similar establishments, such as their monthly Yappy Hours.
When considering entrepreneurship and franchising, Mike advises, “You get out what you put in. Be ready to make sacrifices, especially when it comes to family, friends, and finances. Take the time to speak with other individuals that have started similar businesses. You will be amazed at how much advice others are willing to provide. When you are a small business owner you are part of a larger community and again you have the opportunity to draw from others experiences. Most importantly, love what you do and have fun!”
For more info: To learn more about Camp Bow Wow in Columbia, visit their site by clicking here.