As a lifelong entrepreneur, I'm always fascinated by my fellow colleagues. I love to hear what inspired them to make a change, what keeps them going, and what advice they have to give. In this Entrepreneurial Spotlight, Paul Cannella, Owner and Founder of The Original Poop Bags®, interviews Janet Folk, Owner of Dogtopia South Coast. Not only is she a rockstar entrepreneur, but she is also a rescue hero!
We hope you enjoy it, and who knows, maybe you'll catch the entrepreneurial bug!
Paul Cannella (PC): Please tell me your name, title, how long you’ve been in business and what you were doing before Dogtopia.
Janet Folk (JF): My name is Janet Folk, and I have been the franchise owner/operator of Dogtopia South Coast located in Costa Mesa, California since 2014.
PC: What made you decide to get into the pet business?
JF: Prior to opening Dogtopia I was an owner/operator of an insurance and home warranty business throughout Canada for 37 years. When I sold the business In 2008, I started a new life in Southern California. Before Dogtopia I owned an online retail business selling dog products with all proceeds going to dog rescue. I opened a small bar in 2010 in Huntington Beach called Orange Dog, which also worked with dog rescue. I personally covered the cost of 6 flights of 468 shelter dogs from California to the Edmonton Humane Society in Edmonton Alberta Canada, where all but three were adopted to forever homes. It is safe to say my passion for animals, and in particular dogs, made the decision to buy a Dogtopia franchise quite easy.
PC: What is a typical day like in the world of a Dogtopia franchise owner?
JF: A typical day in my world as a Dogtopia franchise in one word is “exciting!” Every day when I enter the store, I am happy and excited to see our furry family members, and to get to know the pet parents. I can say this “job” is the first where I spend most of the day laughing and watching the antics of our pups. Having exceptional staff relieves me from the day to day duties of looking after the pups in one of the three rooms we have, potty breaks, feeding meals, and ensuring they are entertained as that is exactly why the parents bring their pups to Dogtopia – to be cared for and entertained.
PC: What are your favorite parts about being a Dogtopia owner?
JF: As with all businesses, there are the duties of maintaining a safe and enjoyable facility, soliciting new clients, managing staff, accounting, and handling an emergency of any type with the animals. I am thankful in four years we have had no real emergency situations, however with dogs they will get into scuffles and play too hard at times. The amazing staff I have at Dogtopia South Coast are one of the reasons we have such a safe and well run store. There really isn’t any part of my days that I do not like to do – managing at times can get to be a bit much and that is management of the humans and the pups!
PC: What sets Dogtopia and your franchise apart from the competition?
JF: Dogtopia is unique and set apart from competitors in so many ways. Below are a few examples:
- Award-winning dog daycare and sleepovers and fully equipped spa
- Free live webcams in all the spacious playrooms with each room supervised by trained Canine Coach attendants
- Custom cleaning program for the facility
- Dedicated constant support from Dogtopia support office
- Climate-controlled environment
- Compressed rubber floors in each playroom
- Fully equipped kitchen to serve all meals and dispense prescribed medication
- Periodic reports cards on each dog which goes to the pet parents electronically
PC: Without divulging any proprietary info, anything big on the horizon for Dogtopia?
JF: Dogtopia as a whole is growing at a tremendous speed, and no thought of slowing down. Our store will be implementing a wellness holistic program specifically for dogs in 2019. We also have a program called South Coast Sweethearts where we provide spa services weekly to the OC Animal Care shelter dogs to assist in increasing adoptions. We take one or two dogs at a time from the shelter until we can find a home for them. All just because we love dogs!
PC: From what you’ve learned in business and life so far, what advice would you give entrepreneurs looking to get in the pet business?
JF: My advice to anyone wishing to enter the pet business is start with a strong budget and marketing plan, and with a focused general manager. Franchises should connect their business to the community and participate in local dog-themed events. Most importantly, remember to have fun and love dogs!
PC: From what you’ve learned in business and life so far, what advice would you give to the 16 year old Jan?
JF: When I was a teenager/young adult I never really had a vision or strong goal of what I wanted for the future. I was taught to always have a job and work hard. Well I did those two things, and then one day I knew there had to be more. I searched deep into my heart and soul as to what motivates me and makes me smile. Once I found out what that was and you can guess it had something to do with dogs, I went for it. I have never regretted my choice or looked back.
Thanks for checking out this Entrepreneurial Spotlight! For more info about Janet’s Dogtopia franchise, head to their website here. If you’d like to purchase animal waste bags from The Original Poop Bags® go to our store page! We cannot wait to help you make a difference with our biobased animal waste bags.