As John Ledbetter approached retirement after a 30-year career with Liberty Mutual, his daughter Chelsea was graduating with a degree in animal science from Texas A&M. The coinciding of these two momentous life milestones provided the perfect opportunity for the Ledbetters to open a family business, Dogtopia of The Woodlands North near Houston, Texas.
“It has been an incredible ride,” Ledbetter said, since opening the store a year ago and generating just short of $1 million in revenue its first year. “It’s amazing watching your kids. She’s much smarter than I am. She’s just a sharp, sharp gal,” he said.
One of the things that attracted John to Dogtopia was the forward-thinking leadership and vision of CEO, Neil Gill, and the management team.
With more than 35 years in franchising, Gill took the coronavirus pandemic head on researching and putting together a strategic plan to help the 130+ Dogtopia daycare centers navigate the world. “I watched the impact to the retail in China. I used Starbucks as a barometer. We weren’t caught like a deer in headlights like a lot of organizations were,” he said.
Gill believes that Dogtopia’s focus on dog daycare, not boarding, as the core revenue channel has shown the resiliency of the franchise model. While it’s the harder channel to drive it has shown to be the recession-proof part of Dogtopia’s business, especially as it was recognized by local governments as an essential service in many major markets across the United States during the pandemic.
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