Dogs welcome as Clair takes lead in franchise venture
By Pete Bryant
It’s the age old dilemma; you want to jet off for your hols but can’t face the ordeal of sending your moping mutt to the kennels for a fortnight.
Thankfully, business minded Clair Slingo can now let you fly away with a clear conscience, courtesy of her home from home for your favourite pet.
Clair, 39, runs a Wagging Tails franchise for dog-owners in the GU postcode.
At the business, which is based in Farnham, Clair offers a loving home for dogs as an alternative to kennels while their owners are away.
The dogs are looked after by one of her team of carers spread across the GU area.
The dog home boarding business was franchised after its Hampshire creator experienced significant demand at their original branch, giving Clair the chance to be her own boss.
She bought the GU area franchise and worked with Wagging Tails managing director Lisa Suswain to get the company up and running.
Clair said: “It was always my dream to care for dogs, but somehow working in or running a boarding kennel never really seemed the right thing for me.
“Having spent 22 years in the optical industry, I realised that, while I loved dogs and have always taken a keen interest in learning about different breeds, training and welfare, I was going to need some help to set up my own business.
“I worked within the franchise sector in a previous role, so I realised a franchise could give me the opportunity to run my business while having the suppport of a tried and tested method.”
Clair is one of a growing number of people using the franchise model to open a business. According to the latest annual study by the British Franchising Association and Natwest, there are now 1,000 franchising brands in the UK, allowing people to work in a range of industries such as auto repairs, business analysis, website design and children’s swimming.
It can be an enterprising way to thrive during these times of austerity.
In the south east, franchises now contribute £2.5bn to the regional economy, an increase of 31% since 2007, and more than 100,000 people are employed in such businesses.
Another woman to have taken advantage of the business model is Alison Black, who teamed up with her mother to purchase the Guildford franchise of Sports Xtra.
It was a chance to return to the sporting industry she loves, having worked as a volunteer hockey coach.
Alison said: “I decided that with both of my children about to leave full-time education the time was right to follow my heart and continue my career within a sporting environment, bringing sport and leisure activities into the lives of children.”
Alison attended a Sports Xtra launch event, but instead of discussing coaching roles decided to take the leap into opening a franchise.
Her two children are also now involved in the business.
Colin Ward is another to have found success in franchising. He swapped his job as a trained mechanic for an Ovenu cooker valeting service in the Woking and Guildford area.
It has paid off. He recently celebrated his 2,000th oven clean using his environmentally-friendly cleaning service, and services an average of more than 30 ovens a month.
This article was published in the Surrey Advertiser, November 2012.
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