How One Pet Franchise Survived Two Recessions and Still Thrives Today

In the past few decades, American businesses, startups, and franchises have struggled through two recessions and other instances of significant economic decline. Many companies had promising beginnings in the pet industry, only to collapse in the wake of the recessions of 2001, 2008 and sadly over the past 2 years due to the pandemic. Hounds Town USA Franchise Owners, however, have thrived throughout even the toughest of times since its inception in 2001. What makes the Hounds Town pet franchise so different? What’s their secret not only to surviving eras of economic hardship, but also to emerge from them even stronger?

To find out, we sat down with former NYPD K-9 officer and Hounds Town USA’s Founder Mike Gould to discuss how Hounds Town stood tall in the face of such economic uncertainty, as well as to learn more about why prospective franchise owners should consider opening a location of their own.

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Franchising in Economic Downturns: Drawbacks and Distinct Advantages

It’s no secret that just like any other business, franchises can struggle during recessions; however, they do tend to be a bit more resilient. The reason? Franchising covers various industries, and some sectors are much more adversely impacted by recession and the ensuing decline in disposable consumer spending than others. Nevertheless, the franchising business model has proven rather resilient throughout past economic crises — especially in the pet care industry.

Restructuring and job cuts are inevitable consequences of a contracting economy, and as a result, more people are searching for new job opportunities and career changes. That’s fantastic news for franchise brands that can give owners the tools to take charge of their future and start their own business, and particularly those companies with the brand awareness to afford franchisees an extra layer of security. So, for Americans interested in finding a profitable pet care industry franchise, the fact that the economy appears to be dipping into what could be a severe recession actually may be a good thing.

To see the situation from a Franchisor’s perspective, we asked Mike to share his thoughts on the state of the economy and the direction it seems to be taking.

“I think there is a slight hesitation among investors in general, but the pet care industry remains strong,” maintains Mike. “They are hesitant post pandemic, but the industry remains strong, with people gravitating toward the pet industry and becoming more likely to seek it out.”

How Franchises Like Hounds Town USA Stay Standing

The pet care industry is currently thriving in the wake of the COVID pandemic, and it’s undoubtedly due to the increase in pet adoptions during the initial nationwide shutdowns of 2020. Indeed, as of 2022, 90.5 million families in the US had a pet, and the vast majority (69 million) of these households included a dog. Americans adore their pets, so they spoil them no matter the state of the economy — even during the dog days of financial downturns.

Pet ownership keeps rising for numerous reasons, including companionship and the desire to start a family. Many people cherish their dogs as members of the family, so they often treat them like family financially, too. In fact, consumers spend even more on their dogs during times of economic strife, as pet owners spent $103.6 billion on services including boarding in 2020, marking the first time the industry surpassed $100 billion in sales. That figure grew to $123.6 billion in 2021, and industry projections suggest stellar growth rates will only continue into 2030 and beyond.

A core sector of the pet care industry, boarding facilities satisfy pet owners’ need to ensure their animals are secure and comfortable while they are away at work or on vacation, so these businesses continue to enjoy the benefits of this marked surge in pet parenting.

Mike was frank about how the industry has not only proven recession-resilient in the past, but also how it has become even more profitable as individuals and families in lock-down or quarantine adopted more dogs than ever before. The Hounds Town USA Franchise took advantage of this growth, positioning itself as a leading authority in the pet grooming and boarding industry.

“Hounds Town USA has established itself as an essential service that has become a necessity rather than a luxury for working dog owners,” explains Mike. “Like childcare, our customers depend on Hounds Town to care for their pets while working long hours, so we really make pet ownership possible.

“Even during the recession in 2008, our business grew. People were displaced and replaced very quickly and sought employment elsewhere, but people will not get rid of their pets because of an economic downturn — they will make other sacrifices.”

Hounds Town USA made it through three of the most significant financial crises in the history of the United States, including the 2001 recession that followed 9/11, the Great Recession of 2008, and the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Mike, the key to the franchise’s survival was its simple and unique business model that naturally attracted essential workers who needed to work long and often difficult hours.

“We offer very affordable, straightforward, no-gimmick pet care, and a majority of our customers are essential workers,” says Mike. “After 9/11, a large number of rescue workers such as police, firefighters, and military personnel utilized Hounds Town for their pets’ care when working long hours or on extended military deployments — and I was one of them.”

“Our business also accommodated many hospitals and other essential workers during the pandemic. We were also classified as an essential service and never closed,” says Mike. “I’m proud of the fact that our original location hasn’t closed a single day in 22 years. Even in the face of 9/11, Hurricane Sandy, and other natural disasters, we remained open!”

Mike explained how the COVID-19 pandemic, with all its attendant tribulations and uncertainty, provided one clear silver lining to the pet care industry: The need for boarding and doggie daycare services grew right along with the rise in pet ownership.

“The COVID-19 pandemic positively impacted the pet care industry,” asserts Mike. “We take our responsibility to the community very seriously, so very early in the pandemic, we successfully lobbied to be recognized as an essential service and remained open when other businesses were either forced to or chose to close. We experienced our greatest growth spurt during the pandemic.”

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The Great Resignation: Career-Switchers Seek the Pet Industry

The unusually high rate of American job resignations that began in the spring of 2021, when demand for labor was high and unemployment was low, ultimately came to be known as “The Great Resignation.” For many people, the arrival of COVID-19 delayed career changes, and voluntary separations from employment for reasons other than retirement plunged from 2.3% in February 2020 to 1.6% just two months later. The pattern suddenly changed in April 2020 and persisted until March 2022, when 3% of the workforce lost their employment.

Fortune finally began to turn following the introduction of COVID-19 vaccinations and the subsequent economic recovery. Hiring has increased, even as people who previously postponed quitting for various reasons now feel confident about moving forward with their ambitions to launch a business of their own.

Some hypothesize the pandemic’s impact on American workers led many to change their priorities, ultimately reducing their hours or quitting their jobs altogether. For instance, remote work became a reality in 2020, only for employers later to insist employees return to the office. Coupled with longtime mistreatment in the corporate realm, this helped compel many to quit as soon as more choices became available.

We’re still feeling the effects of the Great Resignation today, as Mike explains that increasing interest from prospective franchise owners is likely driven by the many people who were simply ready to quit the unsatisfying corporate grind. Many of those individuals dream of working with animals, and subsequently turn to the pet industry for a future in business ownership that delivers not only financial but emotional rewards, as well. 

“Pet care is a very emotional business,” agrees Mike. “It creates transformational moments in the lives of Franchise Owners, customers, and employees. For example, one entry-level kennel worker at Hounds Town USA was only 20 years old in 2008. That individual eventually rose to management before partnering with an existing Hounds Town customer to launch a location of their own. Five years later they launched their second location, and they just added a third last year.

“We also had a recent Franchise Owner who was originally in the medical field open her Hounds Town location last year. She sent us an email saying she had wanted to do this since she was 10 years old.”

Is a Pet Care Franchise Right for You?

Due to the epidemic, many first-time pet owners are ill-prepared to handle the continual demands of pet ownership. As a result, a pet care franchise’s critical services are in greater demand than ever. Fortunately, the Great Recession and pandemic have inspired working-class people to break free from the corporate leash and pursue more meaningful alternatives. For those without a great deal of business experience, franchising is often the best route to take, and if you enjoy caring for animals, becoming a Hounds Town USA Franchise Owner may be just the ticket.

That said, a lack of business expertise or the resources to succeed also elucidates why new business owners frequently fail. This is particularly worrying when franchisors fail to deliver the backing and other means their owners need to succeed. Compared to these organizations, Hounds Town USA’s dedication to Franchise Owner support stands in stark contrast.

A successful and seasoned franchise, Hounds Town USA believes it is their duty to ensure Owners get every advantage as they start and scale their Franchises. A leader in the high-demand, opportunity-rich pet care market, from initial launch to ongoing marketing, public relations, training, expansion, and other sorts of vital assistance, Hounds Town always has their Franchise Owners’ backs.

The team at Hounds Town’s headquarters is constantly there to lend a hand, but their network of like-minded, encouraging people has also proven tremendously advantageous to this unique pet franchise. With access to their dynamic collection of professional knowledge and insightful information regarding every facet of Hounds Town’s business strategy, Owners developing their own Franchise locations can always count on expert advice.

Speaking of sage advice, Mike has some for those currently considering launching a Hounds Town USA Franchise, including what to expect in the first year.

“The first year is the most difficult with many moving parts and lots of balls in the air,” says Mike. “But just take a deep breath. A good entrepreneur will dive into the deep end of the pool even if they can’t swim, so don’t panic. After that first year, Franchise Owners get their sea legs.”

Do you want to take advantage of Hounds Town USA’s recession-resistant business model? We’re always looking for new Franchise Owners to join the family! Check out our franchising website to learn more about what makes Hounds Town USA so unique. Like what you see? Request the Franchise Fact Sheet for detailed information as well as to receive an invitation  to further discuss whether you’re a good fit for this innovative pet franchise.