After 35 years in corporate sales, Hounds Town USA Franchise Owner Rich Stoll is ready for his next challenge- opening a pet care franchise in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Montgomery County, Maryland! Stoll, who has lived with his family in the Washington, D.C. area for 20 years, has spent most of his career in the computer hardware industry. Though he enjoyed his long, successful career, Rich is happy to be moving on to a completely new career as a Franchise Owner with Hounds Town USA, and declares, “I am done with corporate America!”
Rich’s inspiration to look into franchising opportunities came when he found himself at a career crossroads after experiencing a layoff after over two decades with the same employer. “I started researching franchises when I got laid off from one of the Fortune 500 companies I worked for,” Stoll recalls. “After 21 years I was laid off. That’s when I started looking into franchising and being my own employer.”
The only question was, which franchise opportunity should Rich choose? As he delved into the list of possibilities, he was amazed by the variety of franchising options across numerous industries that were there for him to investigate. However, even though he wasn’t quite sure what interested him, he was certain of a few things he didn’t want to do. “The first determination was, we’re not going to do food,” Stoll says emphatically, explaining that the restaurant industry was a “tough arena” that came with its fair share of challenges and headaches. Other franchise opportunities for businesses in the service and repair industry, such as glass replacement services, were also out. “They didn’t appeal to me because it was the same kind of thing I’m doing now,” he says. “Right now I sell copiers. It didn’t sound interesting. It didn’t sound fun.”
It was by chance that Rich came across an idea for a franchise opportunity that genuinely excited him…except it wasn’t our pet care franchise, but one of our national competitors! Rich remembers, “I used to fly a lot and the airline magazines always have franchises advertised in the back. I was flicking through one day and saw Dogtopia, and I thought, ‘That’s interesting.’”
However, upon contacting Dogtopia and learning more about their business model and available territories, he quickly became disillusioned by the well-known pet care franchise. “All they talked about was how much money you can make. That was their primary selling point, ‘These people are making a lot of money.’ I wanted more from a business than that,” Rich says.
Still, the idea of opening a pet care franchise in his area appealed greatly to Rich, and he decided to investigate other opportunities through a franchise consultant. His search led him to Hounds Town, and he saw right away that the difference between us and other pet care franchise opportunities is like night and day! “When I started talking to Hounds Town, their first discussions were about the dogs- how they care for the dogs, how it is unique. When I got onto my first call with [Hounds Town President] Jackie [Bondanza], she didn’t talk about the income first- not until down the road.” The comparisons didn’t stop there- Rich was impressed with how Jackie, along with Hounds Town USA Founder Mike Gould, expressed genuine love and compassion for dogs of all sizes, shapes, and breeds. “Other doggie daycare franchises’ websites are corporate, stiff-looking,” he points out. “The Hounds Town website is full of pictures of Mike and Jackie and they’re with their dogs. That was the key to continuing in the process. That’s when I said, ‘This is what I want to do for the next ten years.’”
As the “pet parent” of a 6-year-old goldendoodle named Daisy, as well as his beloved goldendoodle Molly, who lived 6 years before crossing the Rainbow Bridge, Rich knows firsthand how important it is for a pet care franchise to truly love the dogs they care for each day. He was especially impressed with Mike’s in-depth knowledge and understanding of how dogs’ minds work. “Most of it was Mike’s knowledge – he just KNEW!” he says. “You can tell the knowledge and understanding he has for caring for dogs, which is different from owning a dog. There is a best way of caring for these dogs that are in your charge, in your care, for that day or week or night, whatever it might be, and he has that knowledge and expertise for how to do it.”
Feeling confident that Hounds Town USA was a good fit, Rich decided to continue his Franchise Education Process, which included going to Ronkonkoma, New York to meet Mike, Jackie, and the rest of the Hounds Town corporate team in person. The trip was, in a word, memorable. “We had a little bit of fun when we got there,” he says facetiously. “We got a flat tire at 10:30 at night on the way to the hotel.” Jackie came the next day to pick up Rich and his wife for a tour of the Ronkonkoma facility…which had lost power early that morning! “It was 9:00 when we got there and the power had been off since 6:00,” Rich recalls.
However, these minor hiccups actually served a greater purpose- allowing Rich and his wife to see how Jackie, Mike, and the rest of the Hounds Town team performed under pressure, something that any Franchise Owner candidate would be interested to know. “When things go right, it’s kind of easy,” he notes. “When things go wrong, you find out a lot about people. The two of them just handled it. They didn’t panic, they didn’t scream or yell at the electrical people. Everybody handled it.”
On Rich’s end, he says, he and his wife didn’t panic either. “We just said, ‘OK, well, stuff happens.’ Even though things went wrong for both of us, it actually ended up being a very good meeting, because we saw something out of the ordinary and got to see how well they were able to handle it!”
Rich recently secured the location for his Washington, D.C. area Hounds Town facility and is at the beginning of the buildout and construction phase. He looks forward to opening the doors of his pet care franchise and meeting all the dogs who come to see him and participate in our interactive doggie daycare. “We’re excited to get moving!” he says.
We’re proud to have Rich in our “pack” and wish him all the success in the world as he gets ready to open his Hounds Town USA location!
If Rich can leave corporate America behind for a career that genuinely excites him, so can you! It’s time to discover an opportunity that speaks to your passion for dogs and gives you a level of personal fulfillment you could never expect from a 9-5 desk job. If you’re ready to discover what owning your own pet care franchise could be like, please visit our franchise website to learn more about the Hounds Town opportunity!