Trusting individuals to represent your brand in a positive and impactful way is no small task, but with the right business model and the right franchisees, it can exponentially grow your business. This has been EarthWise Pet’s experience, as the pet retail and service brand first started franchising in 2008 and has since amassed 70 operating locations nationwide under the EarthWise Pet and Nature’s Pet Market brands and has dozens of stores in the process of opening in coming months.
Of course, the initial challenge is picking talented individuals to helm a store and successfully carry out the mission to better the lives of furry family members.
For its part, EarthWise Pet has applicants go through a rigorous application and qualification process; everything from an individual’s financial and credit worthiness to a potential store’s location is considered. The pet retail and service franchise looks for candidates with “a unique combination of skills and traits, among which are a willingness to follow a proven system, a desire to help others, and a passion for pets and high-quality care,” according to Daniel E. Webb, president and chief development officer for EarthWise Pet.
Once an individual has been accepted, EarthWise Pet offers its support in every step of the onboarding process.
“Once a franchise has been awarded, our team of commercial real estate experts work to help franchisees secure an effective store location,” Webb explains. “We provide negotiated discounted rates on inventory, equipment and supplies that give EarthWise Pet franchisees an advantage over their competitors. We offer pet nutrition and pet dietitian certification programs that make our franchisees and their staff more educated and thus able to offer unmatched customer service.”
Of course, aside from logistics, the brand ensures its franchisees are well acquainted with their business model and the company’s mission overall, as well as the risks and rewards that come with owning an Earthwise Pet store.
“We familiarize folks with the EarthWise Pet brand, our customer service and pet care philosophy, and the process we take for helping them succeed as EarthWise Pet franchise owners,” says Webb.
It is a process that is invaluable in building a foundation for success or franchisees like Annie Griseta, owner of EarthWise Pet’s Simpsonville, S.C., location, who actually opened her store in the middle of the pandemic.
“I would not call it ‘hand-holding,’ but I will say the entire corporate team left no stone unturned,” she explains. “Site selection, a week-long franchisee training, weekly calls to check in on construction progress, weekly computer training calls, ordering assistance, a top notch education program created uniquely by our lead pet dietitian—absolutely every aspect was covered.
“Even during a pandemic, the corporate team found a way to support and assist. Our store opened in September. At that time, every element in the world was unsure. We remained positive and persistent, and our store opening was a success with so many behind the scenes helping.”
Beyond the onboarding process, the brand supports its franchisees by helping with merchandising, product sales, marketing, employee management, grooming, profit coaching and financial management. It also prioritizes communicating with franchise owners to learn about how the store is performing.
“The communication between store owners and managers on our internal communication platform is an invaluable tool in learning what products are selling well and perhaps more importantly those that are falling off,” says Kinda Summers, owner of EarthWise Pet locations in Wenatchee and Yakima, Wash.
Even though the brand lends its expertise and support, it allows owners to customize their stores based on their own experiences and growth.
“When we thought about buying a franchise, we were concerned about having our every decision needing approval, being micromanaged and controlled,” says Summers. “That has not been the case. We get great ideas and have their experience to lean on when called for but what we do within our stores is largely up to us.”
Now, over the past year as the demand for pets and pet products has increased, EarthWise Pet anticipates working with new franchisee partners in the near future.
The desire to be greater, more informed pet parents, coupled with the increase in pet adoptions “contributes to a national need for healthy products, services and pet-care education resources. EarthWise Pet is quickly becoming the most trusted resource for both,” says Webb.
“We welcome pet-loving and pet-care-conscious individuals to apply for and hopefully join our growing family of EarthWise Pet franchisees.”