K9 Resorts, a daycare and boarding facility for dogs with locations in several New Jersey cities, has seen tremendous growth in business in the 10 years it has been in the suburban New Jersey.
The need soon became evident to owners Steven and Jason Parker for a larger facility. When the building next door became available, they saw that as the perfect chance to grow, so in 2015 they built a new facility just a stone’s throw from their headquarters on South Avenue in Fanwood, NJ.
The new facility features more cage-free boarding options, a larger playroom for the dogs, daycare facilities for smaller breeds (not previously available because of space limitations), a 5,000 sq. ft. artificial turf outdoor play area and, possibly, a doggie pool.
“The local community has been so supportive, and word has reached people as far away as Manhattan and Pennsylvania who have brought their dogs to stay with us,” said co-founder Jason Parker, who grew up in Scotch Plains, NJ. “They might have kennels closer to their homes, but their pets don’t get the same level of treatment that they receive here.”
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The company, which specializes in overnight boarding (from one night to two months), has been adding franchise locations from Boston to Virginia over the last couple of years. Pet owners turn to K-9 when they go on business trips or leisure travel and when they plan home construction projects. The company also offers “doggie daycare” that includes play groups so that pets can expend energy, exercise and socialize in a cage-free environment.
“Dogs are social animals that need exercise and stimulation. Doggie Daycare is the best way to provide both,” said Jason Parker, who founded the business with his older brother, Steven. “It is important for puppies to socialize. People want their dogs to be social. It’s critical for them to start at a young age.”
Jason and Steven both loved dogs while growing up, but their parents were not “dog people.” The boys watched their neighbors’ dogs, and in 1999, when Steve was 14 and Jason was 12, they started K-9 Guardians Professional Pet Sitting – not knowing at the time that pet care would become their careers. They were simply doing something they enjoyed to earn a few extra dollars.
K-9 Resorts treats its guests as VIPs. The suites are designed by Snyder, considered to be the best in the world, and feature premium Kuranda dog beds and a state-of-the-art air purification system. There is an outdoor “pet-safe” courtyard featuring revolutionary artificial turf. The hotel is divided into separate zones to reduce the number of guests (and noise) in any one area. Each suite comes with a color TV tuned to Animal Planet. Like any top notch hotel, it has a fully computerized reservation system and a friendly staff.
There is an entry process. Every animal that comes to K-9 Resorts must have had four shots: Rabies, Distemper Virus, Bordetella, and Canine Influenza. Overnight guests must be 100% friendly towards people. Dogs participating in the daycare program are introduced to other dogs one at a time to determine if they get along with others.
Residents range in size from a 2 ½ lb. Teacup Yorkie to a 225 lb. Newfoundland. Clients are mostly from a 5 mile radius that includes several upscale suburban New Jersey towns. Some of the more well-heeled pooches arrive in limousines from Manhattan.
K-9 Resorts became a franchise corporation in January 2011 and sold its first franchise to a long-time customer two months later. Thus, at age 24, Jason Parker became the youngest franchisor in American business history. Overall, the company has created 11 jobs locally and 60 system-wide. Parker explains that the keys to his success have been perseverance, as well as the fact that people are willing to sacrifice for their dogs. Thus, the business is somewhat recession resistant.
“We get inquiries about setting up facilities for cats, and even hamsters and fish, but we are going to stick with what we know best: boarding and dog care,” said Parker, who recently won a fourth consecutive “Best of New Jersey” Award from New Jersey Monthly magazine and has been featured on CNBC and Fox Business. Parker presents at highly attended pet care seminars and attends events such as the International Franchise Association’s (IFA) annual conference.
“I want people to know that K-9 Resorts offers the best pet care possible, and that we have thousands of satisfied customers,” Parker said. “Treat pets and their owners right, and you have formula for success.”