Going To The Dogs: A New Kind Of Four-Legged Franchise
Michelle Boggs is onto not just her second career, but her fourth or fifth if you count them all.
The Texas native who splits her time between Old Alexandria, Virginia and the Dallas area, is now Director of Franchising of MUTTS Canine Cantina, and is franchising the concept with big plans for dog lovers everywhere.
And she has plenty of advice on how to follow your passion and create the career—or careers—you dream to have.
Though she has always been a dog lover, Boggs is a newcomer to this niche, beginning her career after graduating from Southwest Texas State University in 1979 with a major in journalism.
She went to work in the public relations department for Hines, the real estate developer company in Houston, before joining ProServ, a sports marketing management company in 1984. Her job was promoting 22 World Championship Tennis tournaments nationwide.
“I loved what I was doing in sports marketing, but the ethics in that business are sketchy,” Boggs says. “I was asked to do something that was not right for the sponsors so I decided I didn’t want to do this anymore.”
She then launched a non-profit group in 1992 for injured athletes, dealing with orthopedic injuries and more. That led her to launch a marketing consulting firm for nonprofits on April 1, 1995, called McKinley Partners, named after Mount McKinley.
“Then it was the tallest peak in America,” Boggs says. It is now renamed Danali.
Fast forward to 2014, when Boggs and her husband came across MUTTS in Dallas, a social dog park and restaurant/bar.
“This concept is franchisable,” Boggs says she told her husband. “It has legs.” She adds, “We are definitely a category creation.”
In January 2016 she teamed up with the restaurant concept creators, Kyle Noonan and Josh Sepkowitz, and are soon launching franchises in pockets across the country.
“I didn’t want to do things willy-nilly,” Boggs says, so they are launching in the Austin area as well as in the Northeast.
“It’s a lot harder than I thought it would be,” says Boggs. “Integrity is key, not that I’ve been asked to compromise, but you hear lots of stories.”
From implementing the turnkey concept (pre-designed and pre-manufactured building modules for new sites that can be erected in less than 24-hours) and state-of-the-art technology that ensures the safety of all guests (two and four-legged), to solving the issue of odd shaped and undevelopable tract within popular urban areas, Boggs is committed to being thorough with each franchise.
“There are so many moving parts and I’m not even talking about operations,” says Boggs. “You have to have tenacity.”
According to the International Franchise Association, “30.6 percent of franchised businesses were female-owned compared to 32.8 percent of non-franchised businesses in 2012.” That is their most recent study and it also shows, “Franchised businesses were more likely to be equally male/female-owned than non-franchised businesses – 14.8 percent compared to 10.7 percent.”
More recent numbers show even bigger increases for women.
“Franchise experts report a rising trend in women entering the world of franchising. Between 2011 and 2017, female franchise ownership jumped by 83 percent, while male ownership only increased 13 percent, according to FranNet, the US based franchise consultancy,” writes Fiona Simpson in Forbes.
With a five-year goal of 50 units and a 10-year goal of 100 units, Boggs says she wants in in the $64 billion pet business. “There is good energy. People will cut back on themselves before they cut back on their pets.”
Boggs is encouraging to anyone at any stage of her career deciding to try something new.
“If you have a passion for it, figure out how to go for it. Do your homework, get as many people with expertise as you can,” Boggs says.
She caught onto the good vibe of MUTTS at first sight, she says. “The first time I went to MUTTS, everybody was having fun, smiling– the people working here, the customers. “
Boggs explains MUTTS has a membership model of a dog park and a restaurant/bar, with a little dog park for dogs under 30 pounds and big dog park for dogs over 30 pounds. The little dogs can go into the big dog park, but not the other way around.
No, there is no membership for cats and it’s called MUTTS for a reason, Boggs says.
“But somebody did ask if he could bring his parrot. I said, you could, but I don’t know if it would end well.”
About the Author
Michele Weldon is editorial director of Take The Lead, an award-winning author, journalist, emerita faculty in journalism at Northwestern University and a senior leader with The OpEd Project. @micheleweldon www.micheleweldon.com