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VOL. 132 | NO. 174 | Friday, September 1, 2017

Pet Project

Camp Bow Wow franchisees find success catering to canine campers

By Aisling Maki

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Canine companions reside in 44 percent of U.S. households, and most dog owners consider them part of their family. But many pooches spend their days home alone while their humans are at work, which can create stress and separation anxiety for these highly social pack animals.

Doggie day cares such as Camp Bow Wow, which has two Memphis locations, aim to provide the perfect solution for working professionals.

“Most dogs want to run around and play with other dogs and spend that energy,” said Becky Simcoe, who, along with her husband, Tim, owns Camp Bow Wow’s Balmoral location at 6108 Quince Road. “Camp Bow Wow offers the perfect environment for that.”

Becky Simcoe, who owns Camp Bow Wow’s Balmoral location with husband Tim, oversees playful pups at the doggy day care. The Simcoes became Camp Bow Wow franchisees in 2015. (Daily News/Houston Cofield)

The Simcoe family researched businesses in numerous industries before they purchased their franchise, a national chain with about 140 locations.

“My husband and I spent a couple of years looking at businesses, and along the journey, none of them felt like they were the right fit or something we could feel very passionate about and successful with,” Simcoe said.

But Camp Bow Wow was a perfect match, marrying Simcoe’s love of dogs with her passion for service through nearly 20 years in the hospitality industry. In October of 2015, she and her husband Tim embarked on their journey as local franchisees for the largest pet care franchise in North America.

The seeds of Camp Bow Wow were planted in 1994 in Colorado when Heidi Ganahl and her husband, Bion, who were seeking quality pet care for their two dogs, failed to find a service that matched their needs.

They began working on a business plan, but six months later, Bion died in a plane crash. In December of 2000, Heidi brought their vision to fruition when she opened the first Camp Bow Wow in Denver. The company began franchising in 2003.

The pet care industry generated almost $66 billion last year, according to the American Pet Products Association, and the Simcoes have seen an 85 percent increase in revenue growth over the last year and a 40 percent increase in customers. Today they employ 24, including quite a few retirees and college students.

Becky Simcoe and her husband, Tim, own one of two franchised Camp Bow Wow locations in Memphis. The couple researched numerous businesses before purchasing their franchise. (Daily News/Houston Cofield)

Dennis Diffee owns the East Memphis franchise location at 2121 Whitten Road, which has been in business for eight years. He said there’s security in owning a pet-care business because it’s “a service that people need continuously. It’s a recurring service.”

And both franchisees point out that their fair pricing attracts customers. They don’t charge extra for medication administration and other special requests, and the dogs receive copious individual attention and TLC from “camp counselors.”

Camp Bow Wow’s program enhances the canine campers’ quality of life by improving their socialization skills with other dogs and with humans; providing regular exercise to maintain a healthy weight; and relieving boredom, stress, separation anxiety and destructive behavior at home.

Each camper is provided with their own “cabin,” outfitted with a soft bed, but they spend most of their time playing both indoors and outdoors.

“The ultimate success is seeing that pet pull their pet parent through the front door because they’re so excited to be there, and we hear that every day,” said Simcoe, whose location provides day care, boarding, grooming and training. “The minute they pull into the parking lot, the dog is so excited to see their friends. … It gives the pet parent peace of mind knowing they’ve chosen a great brand to take care of their pup.”

Camp Bow Wow counselors are trained in dog behavior, CPR and pet first aid. Dogs are required to pass a socialization interview and be spayed or neutered and current on their vaccinations.

Pet owners can check in on their dogs from anywhere using a computer or mobile device, and the facilities are monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

“We sell peace of mind to dog owners, and nowadays dogs are like children to people,” said Diffee. “They’re their best friend, their companion – the one who always love them.”

He said his staff members know the name of every dog who walks through the doors.

“People are happy with the kind of customer service we provide.”

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