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Trio Devoted to the Dogs: Springfield family becomes franchisees of pair of dog-related ventures

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 A Springfield family seeking a new professional challenge decided to double up this year on franchises in the multibillion-dollar pet service industry, specifically working with dogs. 

Jeremy and Kristi Anderson, along with their daughter, Nerissa, moved to the Queen City from Durango, Colorado, at the start of the year. 

“I had a good job, but we decided we wanted to do something that was a little bit more of an adventure, something that depends on us,” Jeremy said of the move to Springfield and his exit from a 25-year career in the industrial electrical field. “We decided to step out and start a couple of businesses.”

The family first embarked on becoming franchisees through Sandy, Utah-based Dog Training Elite. Kristi and Nerissa own the local franchise, Dog Training Elite of Springfield MO, which opened March 28. 

Furry Land of Springfield MO, a local franchise of the Las Vegas-based mobile pet grooming company of the same name, is set to launch by month’s end, said Jeremy, who’s franchisee of the venture. 

Kristi said she and her daughter have worked with 35 dog training clients since opening – a total that surpassed expectations. In-home specialized training packages range $1,445-$2,845 for at least 11 one-hour sessions and as many as 25, according to its website. The training sessions typically cover four to five months, she said. 

“We spend the first 15 minutes working with the dog and then teach the owner what we just did,” Kristi said, adding they work with all dog breeds, sizes and ages. “We want to make sure they’re comfortable handling their dogs.”

Kristi, a stay-at-home mom who homeschooled her four children, was a part-time potter selling her creations on Etsy before Dog Training Elite. Nerissa, 21, previously worked in food service and retail. 

She and her parents attended a bootcamp for running a franchise and learning to train dogs in Salt Lake City, Utah, for most of March. 

“I loved dogs my whole life,” Nerissa said, noting she and her mom also devote time to ensure the pet owners are comfortable during their sessions. “What we’re teaching here is how to train them, and not just training dogs. It’s removing pressure and providing encouragement.”

Delving into dogs
The family invested around $100,000 to start the Dog Training Elite franchise, which covers Springfield and surrounding towns, including as far north as Bolivar, Jeremy said. Dog Training Elite’s website notes startup costs typically range $101,000-$122,000. 

While Furry Land’s website doesn’t list a franchise fee, Jeremy said he expects to spend roughly $130,000 to launch the mobile grooming business. That includes the purchase of a conversion van filled with grooming equipment. Both franchises have ongoing 8% royalty fees, he said.

Much of the family’s investment came through the sale of its house in Durango as well as inheritance money given to Nerissa, Jeremy said. Relocating to Springfield was based on the recommendation of a family friend, who graduated from Evangel University, and a real estate market he said was much more reasonable than Durango. The median list price for a house in Durango is $657,000 compared with $215,000 in Springfield, according to Realtor.com. 

“When we were talking about doing something different with our lives, we got a hold of a franchise consultant and talked to him about our interests,” Jeremy said of connecting with Jack Johnson, CEO of The Franchise Insiders. 

Johnson sent a list of possibilities and Kristi and Nerissa immediately centered on Dog Training Elite, Jeremy said. The family viewed Furry Land as a complementary business. 

“Grooming comes up all the time when talking with clients,” he said. “We thought that might be a good tie-in.”

Jeremy said Johnson’s services were free to the family, as the franchise pays the consultant if it is selected by a client.

To get the word out on their businesses, the family set up a booth this year at the Ozark Farmers Market at Finley Farms. Naturally, they also bring out their three dogs – Gidget, a border collie and poodle mix; Otto, a boxer; and Ethel, a French bulldog and Boston terrier mix – to draw attention from farmers market shoppers. While the dogs can’t claim if they’ve earned the family business, the Andersons say they’ve signed up several clients during the weekly Ozark event, which runs through September. 

The family’s move into dog-related businesses is coming at a time when Americans continue prioritizing their pets. According to the American Pet Products Association, $123.6 billion was spent last year on pets in the U.S., a jump of roughly 20% from $103.6 billion in 2020. Nearly $10 billion was spent in 2021 for pet services, including grooming, training, boarding and pet sitting.  

Eye ahead 
Jeremy said his Furry Land franchise will be the first to open in Missouri. He plans to serve clients primarily in Springfield, Nixa and Ozark. The company’s website lists 15 locations operating or under development nationwide since its 2017 founding. 

Grooming prices range $100-$160, depending on the dog size, according to the website. Cat grooming is priced at $140. An in-vehicle generator furnishes electricity for the dryer, clippers, A/C, vacuum and lights, while the van holds a 70-gallon hot water heater for pet baths.

“There’s one dog in the van at a time. Your dog leaves the house, gets groomed and comes right back into the house,” Jeremy said of the at-home service, noting he plans to hire four groomers this month.

With a large territory to cover, additional vans could be acquired, he said. That depends on the success of his new venture, adding he has no first-year revenue projections. 

As Dog Training Elite’s owners and sole trainers, Kristi and Nerissa have hiring plans of their own.

“My hope is by the end of the year, we’ll need to hire another trainer,” Kristi said. “We’re getting a little bit stretched and if Jeremy did not take care of the office, we would feel really pinched.”

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