How to turn your passion for pets into a family-friendly career

When the guilt kicks in because you can’t get time off work for sports day, or you have to let the team in the office down AGAIN because your child has caught a stomach bug for the third time this term, it’s all too appealing to consider the option of working for yourself! And what better time to start a career doing something that you love? A home-based, family-friendly business that would allow you to indulge your passion for pets could be just the solution.

dog sitting host Helen with franchisee Nicola and dog Tilly


No matter how much you adore animals, starting a business with no prior experience can be tough. Going it alone means you will have to quickly learn to deal with all aspects such as: licensing, quality compliance, administration, marketing and legal requirements. If this seems daunting, the answer to your dilemma may be to consider the franchise route.

Joining a franchise offers the chance to be in a business that you are passionate about and to receive support and training. It enables working parents to balance professional careers with family life.

Something for everyone

Whether you have a passion for pets, are crazy about kids’ creativity or are simply looking for a profitable management opportunity, the franchise industry has a sector for everyone.

Rachel Stewart, Managing Director of Barking Mad Dog Care, the UK & Ireland’s leading pet care franchise, says:

“When you buy a franchise, it’s like someone has done the initial hard work for you! We’ve spent twenty years researching the market, perfecting our business model, establishing high quality systems and processes and building a strong brand name, so that you don’t have to. While you still need to invest lots of time, essentially all the ground-work has been done, which accelerates success. Also, running your own business can sometimes seem isolating, so having a support network in place is vital – a good franchise model should always provide this.

We’re proud to offer people the opportunity to change their lives by running a flexible, home based business, organising holidays for dogs and creating a community of local dog lovers. Accompanying cherished pets to their owners’ weddings can also be all in a day’s work! Barking Mad is a fantastic lifestyle choice for those wishing to fit family or other commitments around a full-time career.”

What is a lifestyle business?

If you have been thinking about starting your own venture, you may have come across the expression, ‘lifestyle business’. The definition of a ‘lifestyle business’ is one which enables you to live the life that you want to live, enjoying a particular lifestyle.

John and Elaine Warburton invested in a Barking Mad franchise in 2014. In 2019 they received recognition for business success when they scooped the top Lifestyle Franchisee title at the 2019 bfa HSBC Franchise Awards.

The husband and wife team from Fife showed that their business has thrived whilst allowing them to achieve an enviable life-work balance. In their case, this meant indulging a real love of dogs as well as working their roles around their daughter and other commitments.

John and Elaine say,

“Our Barking Mad journey began when we heard our local franchise was for sale. We jumped at the opportunity to change our lives and haven’t looked back. Flexible working hours were a must, to allow us to care for our daughter and furry family! Being able to be with our own dogs all the time was a massive tick in the box.

The franchise system’s tried, tested and proven operating procedures were a major factor in our decision, along with the training, support and potential for growth to an impressive six figure turnover.”

Work with Dogs and Start Loving What You do with a Barking Mad Franchise

Established in 2000, Barking Mad is the UK & Ireland’s most trusted dog sitting service, providing bespoke dog holidays through a franchise network of dedicated local professionals

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Choosing the right franchise for you

With so many different opportunities available in so many industry sectors, it can be hard to choose! Here are some of the most important considerations:

  1. Determine exactly what your personal goal is and find a franchise that can help you achieve this
  2. Do your homework and find out as much as you can about the history of the business. This is technically known as ‘due diligence’.
  3. Research industry sectors as well as individual franchises. For example, the value of the UK pet market is predicted to hit £7bn by 2021 (AMA Research). Also, the UK’s dog population is estimated at 9 million and approximately 25% of households own at least one dog, according to the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association’s Annual Report 2019, meaning plenty of prospective customers.
  4. Calculate the level of financial investment you can afford, including fixed capital for the franchise fee and equipment etc. and some working capital. There may also be finance available.
  5. Judge the name recognition of a franchise and what differentiates them from competitors
  6. Study company structure and the training and support offered to franchisees
  7. Meet the franchisor in person and ask lots of questions. Can you attend an open day or have chance to speak to current franchisees?

If you are considering a career change, facing redundancy or contemplating a new direction which will allow you to indulge your love of dogs, you can call Rachel Stewart and the Barking Mad team on 03333 444972, email or visit

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