A Success Story For the Dogs (and Cats)

Posted by: Stacy Perman on September 2, 2009

Four years ago I wrote about Denver-based Camp Bow Wow, a new and rapidly growing doggie day care business. At the time, when pet owners were buying kosher dog food and Gucci kibble bowels, the idea of pampering pets and spending money on them as if they were children was increasing in popularity. At the time the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association reported that pet products had mushroomed into a $34 billion industry – today that number has moved north to $50 billion.

Camp Bow Wow’s founder Heidi Flammung (now Granahl) had plowed $100,000 – her entire savings into the business – only to look up and see numerous similar type doggie day cares springing up all over the place. Unfazed, she sought to distinguish her business with a set of services such as caring for older, sickly pets, offering on-site vaccinations, and placing Webcams throughout the facility that allowed owners to check in on there pets anytime. When I first wrote about Camp Bow Wow, there were 11 locations and Granahl planned to open an additional 15 day over the next two years – expanding through a combination of franchising and wholly-owned shops.

Frequently, we return to some of the companies we have covered to see what developments have occurred, are they on track, have they met their goals etc. As a result of the economic slide, I’ve noticed many businesses have recalibrated their growth targets, some have taken big hits, while others have thrown in the towel. However, Camp Bow Wow sent me an email recently with some pretty good news. In August, Camp Bow Wow opened its 100th outlet in Lafayette, Louisiana.
Good news indeed and one that suggests that dogs (and cats and birds etc) are a growth industry…

Reader Comments

Carol Cross

September 3, 2009 1:19 PM

Camp Bow Wow sounds like a successful franchise concept that will grow in our economy, but maybe not as quickly if the concept becomes saturated and franchisees have to compete in a saturated sector in a bad economy.

While Camp Bow Wow has exceeded their growth goals, have all of their "founding franchisees" been successful. Have there been any failures to date? Does Camp Bow Wow provide an "earnings claim" to new franchise buyers on the basis of the earnings of their wholly-owned units? Or, does Camp Bow Wos provide an implied earnings claim through their estimated startup costs?

Hopefully, their record two more years from now will look as good and "dogs and cats and birds, etc." will still be a growth industry.

Domenick Celentano

September 3, 2009 8:55 PM

Hi Stacy, your posting was timely... I recently attended a conference of financial executives and the theme was dealing with the rapidly changing business climate. There were several points that I have incorporated into my consulting practice as well as my courses I teach at several universities here in New Jersey. Here they are:

1. Reboot the company
2. Re-assess assumptions
3. Determine the new normal
4. Reset expectations
5. Respond... change and act quickly

Camp Bow Wow is a great example of these 6 principles.

Dom Celentano
Silberman College of Business
Fairleigh Dickinson University

gb

September 10, 2009 2:12 PM

Carol - yes CBW's have failed and no support from corporate. They don't let anyone know and hide from the FTC by saying the camp was sold to someone else when indeed they took over and paid nothing for it. Recently they just the Atlanta one close and did nothing. All though there are 100 camps they are barely passing by some in the red for months on end. They pay little attention or give little support to the camps struggling. It is a shame since it is a great business.

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What's it like to run your own company today? Entrepreneurs face multiple hurdles new and old, from raising capital and managing employees to keeping up with technology and competing in a global marketplace. In this blog, the Small Business channel's John Tozzi and Nick Leiber discuss the news, trends, and ideas that matter to small business owners. Follow them on Twitter @newentrepreneur.

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