“I’ve thought about converting my business into a franchise, but I feel that if I franchise it, I will lose so much of what dog-walking is; it becomes less about the dogs, and more about making a lot of money. Dog-walking is a great lifestyle. You can easily get by and there is money to be made, but you have to draw the line between trying to become a millionaire and doing what is best for the dogs; between getting rich and doing what is ethical. I think having an ethically responsible business is more important than making money. Ultimately, I walk dogs as a business, not to make tons of money, but to give dogs the opportunity to exercise and socialize with other dogs and to interact with people who truly care for them.”
For most business owners, the dream is to build an empire – to expand to such a scale that a million dollars feels like a hundred. But for a minority of entrepreneurs, the end-game is not world domination, or to have their face plastered on the cover of Forbes Magazine. 25-year-old Australian entrepreneur, and football player, Archie Gaunt chose to keep his pet-care business small-scale so that he could continue to offer his canine clients the most personal and enjoyable experience he could give. Truly, wealth comes in different forms. For the Happy Pets owner, it is not what he receives, but the quality of what he can give.
It starts with selecting the right people. Describing his hiring process, Archie said, “When I hire people, I don’t start with an interview. Instead, I immediately take them out to the park and bring a bunch of dogs with us. Rather than looking at what their previous work experience was, I observe how they interact with dogs. That is much more important to me.”
When the team is all set and ready, the next hurdle is tailoring that unique experience for man’s best friend. What Archie is concerned here is creating an environment for the dogs that is peaceful, friendly and safe.
Archie mentions, “Before I take a dog on a group walk, I go meet the owner first. I make sure that the dog won’t be aggressive during a group walk. If I think that it would be, then I don’t take them, because aggressive behavior creates some sort of ripple effect. If one dog gets aggressive then another will, and so on and so forth.”
When you run a business of taking care of dogs, it is equal to receiving temporary custody of a person’s family member. A higher level of care is required. There is no room for recklessness or petty mistakes. Archie notes that there are many ethical issues that people in this type of business need to be wary about when expanding, because dealing with someone else’s pet is a very personal matter. He demonstrates that in some businesses, It is better to sacrifice the chance to earn a lot of money to maintain something that is far more important.
In the case of Happy Pets, it is keeping the dogs happy. The Happy Pets owner felt that a bigger organization would make the experience more detached and cold. You ultimately lose control of what you’ve built for them.
Another ethical issue is how especially vulnerable pets are. We humans decide who gets a family and a place to call home. Archie explains, “Getting dogs from the animal shelter is something that I value. Some dogs are lucky, but most of them just sit in cages their whole lives.”
That’s why he implemented a program for Happy Pets where he gives discounts to people whose dogs were adopted from pounds.
It is all a matter of giving back to the creatures that played such a huge role in his life. He often cringes at how other owners treat their pets.
“I often see people in the park, and they just sit there on their phones, rather than interact with their dogs. That really irks me. It is important to interact with your dog while you still can.”
Liked this story? Check out Happy Pets’ website at: http://happypets.net.au