A: I bought my The Cat Butler business in November 2021, around the time of the pandemic. I had spent 30 years selling high-end coffee machines to businesses across the UK but of course, with no one going to work, demand for coffee machines dried up. During the lockdowns I homeschooled my young son William who was seven at the time and really enjoyed that time with him and I realised I didn’t want to go back to a regular 9-5 job, I wanted to be able to do drop offs and pick ups from school and be much more present in my son’s life.
A: I’ve always had cats, up to seven at a time sometimes, so I guess you could call me a ‘cat man’. When I started looking around at what I could do next, I wondered if this might be a good time to start my own business, something I’d always wanted to do. This led me to think about buying a franchise because I knew they came with great support and have such a high success rate, so I started doing some research and came across The Cat Butler.
A: Although I am a self-confessed cat lover and I could definitely see the potential for a service like The Cat Butler in my area, the reality was that I’d never owned my own business before and I liked the thought of someone teaching me how to do it and supporting me as I grew. I also liked the thought of being part of a network of Cat Butlers across the country. Plus, you only have to look at the website and graphics to realise what a premium product The Cat Butler is and I wanted to be part of that.
A: The support I received from Sandra when I set up the business in November 2021 was excellent, no question about it. When you start any new business you don’t always know what the questions are going to be, but whenever they pop up, Sandra is there to answer them. The support in the day-to-day running of the business and the marketing support has also been excellent.
My The Cat Butler business is far more successful than I could ever possibly have imagined. The phone hasn’t stopped ringing since the day I launched; I made my franchisee fee back within six months and now, 20 months since I started, I employ three staff (and need another six!)
To say our business is booming is an understatement. We are the only people in my area offering a premium cat care service. Many of our customers are those who traditionally used catteries but when they hear that we offer a competitively priced service, where their cat can stay at home AND we offer a light touch home security service, they are sold. Once they’ve actually tried our service, they are customers for life.
Every time a holiday period comes around, Christmas, Easter and Summer, the enquiries just go mad again and I can hardly keep up with responding to them, let alone being able to take them all on as clients.
I am absolutely making a profit and far more than I envisaged when I started.
A: The biggest challenge is staff, not finding them, I have lots of people who think they’d really like to spend the day visiting cats, but the right ones. Most people don’t take the role seriously enough and when you are going into people’s homes and handling their most prized possessions, you absolutely must take it seriously. I currently have three excellent members of staff who are now fully trained Cat Butlers, and if I could find another six like them, I’d be very happy.
As an ‘old hand’, I help Sandra train new franchisees now and one of the first things I tell them is to try to recruit their first member of staff before they even launch the business because they will definitely need one and sooner than they think.
A: My biggest success is the success of the business. Period. The Cat Butler (Bromley) is now the go-to cat care business in the area and not only are we fully booked with between 250-300 clients on our books who own, conservatively, 1,000 cats between them, but we are also constantly recommended from one happy owner to another. We also have hundreds of 5-star reviews online and when we win a customer, we keep them. That to me is our biggest success, delivering the service our customers want.
A: My advice would be to first make sure the area you live in is densely populated enough to make it work. This won’t work if you live in the middle of nowhere. You need plenty of homes and cats to service. From there, be prepared to work hard and get some help before you launch so you don’t find yourself overwhelmed as the rush begins.
Read more on Greg's journey >>>>> From coffee machine salesperson to business owner
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