Thursday, December 17, 2009

Doggie Day Care

Did you know that there was a national chain of “upscale” doggie daycare franchises?

I mean, it’s not a terrible idea if you’re somewhat wealthy and you have a high maintenance dog. However, as I have already pointed out, people are abandoning their Chihuahuas in record numbers in California. Does that mean this is a bad idea? Probably in California, I guess, but the only place I see this working is where I live, in the money-soaked suburbs of Washington D.C., where fat cats have Federal paychecks to subsidize their largesse. It’s no wonder that this business started in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia. Federal contractor money allows tens of thousands of people to live like robber barons on low three figure incomes. These people, literally, do not have to work and can never be fired. That leaves them free to start online betting businesses or to whore themselves out to anyone who will hire them as consultants—usually, friends who have applied for Federal contracts and have won them without having to worry about being outbid.

Here’s part of the story, by the way, since I’m more interested in what I have to say anyway:

Ms. Nichols approached seven banks before securing a loan. Like the landlords, they all wanted to see a successful owner track record. It was a small women-owned bank, Southern Financial Bank, that finally gave her a $75,000 Small Business Administration-backed loan. She had also been saving her money for several years and she sold her house, which netted about $80,000. Everything went into the business, with a few thousand dollars going into marketing, says Ms. Nichols.

Ms. Nichols opened her first center, Happy Tails Dog Spa, in June of 2002 in Tysons Corner, Va., offering day care and boarding. She remembers looking up and seeing her dog-spa signage surrounded by those of telecommunication giants. “That felt really good,” she says.

In its first six months, Happy Tails grossed $250,000. By seven months, the company, with its then eight employees, was profitable. In 2003, revenue was above $1 million helping to finance the growth of the business, especially franchises. “I didn’t spend a lot on advertising. I lived for the business,” says Ms. Nichols. “Everywhere I went, I had my [company] shirt on, and I talked about the business.”

I see simple caution from the bankers here. One dip in an uncertain economy and the business takes a hit. What do you think we’ve been living through for the last few years? If ever there was an indictment of Federal contractor largesse, it would be the success of a Doggie Day Care in Tyson’s Corner.

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