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Paula Hinz, 57, started her own business in January 2008, a franchisee of a company called Bark Busters. The economy was weakening, but it turned into a smart move, she says now.
Hinz is an artist and a horse trainer and has done dog rescue work, but she was tiring of the circuit of art and horse shows. Her husband was working in the area several days a week, so the couple moved from Santa Cruz to Lincoln, where there was a Bark Busters franchise territory available.
Bark Busters offers home dog training. It began in Australia in 1989 and came to the United States in 2000.
For exclusive territory, franchisees must have a net worth of at least $100,000 and pay an initial investment of $69,000, which covers four weeks of training and initial operating capital.
Over the past year, the number of new franchises has dropped nationally and statewide, but Hinz says she built her success on careful research and offering a service people wanted.
What were your fears about buying into a franchise as a recession hits?
The scariest part is there are all these independent people, people who spend big bucks on advertising on TV. What am I going to do? You have to pay a little more, and you can’t just open your doors, but you are basically paying for the background, the brand name and advertising.
I just made up my mind I wasn’t going to let it get to me. If you let the giants in, you’ll be intimidated.
What did you consider when choosing a franchise?
If you’re going into a franchise, you want to make sure it’s something you already know something about. People have to just look at what they’re naturally inclined to do. I think people need to know themselves when looking at franchises. I chose Bark Busters because their home office backup and their creativity to attract new markets is awesome.
How did you raise the money?
I did several things, like used some of our 401(k). I still need to pay off part of my line of credit, but the interest rate was so good, I don’t need to push on that.
I was making money within three months. I know there are couples in Southern California who are making $200,000 a year. I expect to be doing $100,000 a year once the economy turns.
What have you found to be important to the success of the business?
I get referrals from vets and word of mouth. I do more word-of-mouth business than anything else I do. If you give personal service, you will succeed. Even if you start up during a recession, if you’re offering a need that can really impact people’s lives, people will still go ahead and do it.
What is the cost to customers?
It depends on the dog and the situation, but a year contract will range from $550 and $600.