Developments amidst COVID-19
Although the boarding segment of Happy Cat has been significantly affected due to implemented travel restrictions amidst the pandemic following the social distancing norms, it has managed to stay afloat thanks to its emergency readiness plan and multiple channels of revenue. Chris explains, “This model allows the owner to be the operator. A single person can run the show. It’s a lot of work but can be done in the worst situations. Oh, and we finished the construction and launch of our second facility. July 1 grand open! That’s what we think of COVID. We must be safe and vigilant but we cannot allow it to stop us.” Even though COVID-19 has limited the travel, it has only postponed it to the next year. Hence, Happy Cat is all set to rebound as soon as the world has recovered and the lockdown is lifted. For now, their goal is to evolve the existing model into something that works in every scenario except a pandemic considering the seriousness of the circumstances during this time and create channels to bridge the gaps that may arise if such a situation were to occur again. Chris says, “That’s where our creativity has come into play. We’ve taken this downtime and used it to pull everything on our back burner, to the front. It’s just making our brand stronger.”
Ever since the lockdown was announced, Happy Cat has taken their hotel gift shops online. For people who are stuck at home with their kittens, they have launched a Spa Club membership program that allows people to get their cats cleaned and groomed more frequently. Also, Happy Cat has started Kitty Day Care for people who are going to work and don’t want their cats to be alone at home. Their Happy Cat @ Home is a recent addition as well. It is a home renovation service that transforms any available space into a pristine oasis of feline enrichment. To stay in touch with fellow cat lovers and keep them up updated on the recent developments at Happy Cat, they have also launched a podcast titled ‘The Happy Cat Franchise Cast’. Chris shares, “It’s a week-by-week chronicle of the meetings between us and our first real-life franchisee as we traverse the up and down journey of building and launching their franchise location. And those are just the ideas we accelerated. We doubled down hard on what we were already doing. Boarding for home renovations and real estate transitions, grooming services, and of course education via social media.”
Apart from this Happy Cat has been working on developing new roles for their close-knit team members with new benefits. Moreover, to help folks, who were deeply affected by COVID-19, Happy Cat has provided special concessions and exemptions to help them stay motivated while they get back on their feet.
Franchising with Happy Cat
As the only brand focused on cat care services in an unprecedented way, Happy Cat is primed for ascension. When it comes to hiring, it looks for people who are intrinsically motivated and are ready to learn and grow. For Chris, it’s simply EQ over IQ. He says, “I know that word empathy is getting a bit exhausted in the corporate world of late but that’s a good thing. It means more people are focused on it and there’s never been anything wrong with a world full of empathy.” As a CEO, he values everyone’s buy-in and motivates them to keep striving to get better with each passing day. As for their customers, their main concern remains how happy they are. Chris shares, “We survey our customers post-reservation but more importantly are the face to face conversations we have at the conclusion of their cat’s stay. That’s where we can see them light up with joy over the decision they made to come to us. From there, we’re constantly asking each other, “So and so just checked out. How happy were they?” Because happy or not is not an option. HOW happy is what matters – and it better be the happiest.”
Now that Happy Cat has started franchising, they are excited to build new relationships and are looking for people who are accessible, teachable, collaborative, patient, and those who appreciate the value of relationships just like them. Chris affirms, “We’re in a role that is responsible for the care of people’s animals. It’s an extraordinarily personal experience built on trust, so an emotional connection to the benefits of the service is key. As much as it can be a profitable business, it is also a passion play. This cannot just be an absentee “business investment” at this early stage.” With a cost-effective business model and affordable investment, Happy Cat offers a brilliant business opportunity to those who would like to explore this industry’s magnificent untapped potential.
Promising ceaseless Learning and Growth
As initial support, Happy Cat offers continued marketing strategies, system improvements, education to implement their systems and teach about feline behavior, handling, grooming, and customer service. Their goal is to see their franchise owners as proud multi-unit operators. Chris exclaims, “Let’s not forget, we’re very young so we have lots of room to grow internally as much as externally, and everything that we develop or improve upon moving forward will be shared. All that being said, I think the emotional and tactical support we will continue to offer throughout our 10 + year relationship with them is going to be more important than anything.”
In the future, Happy Cat Franchise aspires to be a household name that serves the entire cat enthusiast market with education and resources. “Hotels, grooming, products, and education. We can really capture all corners of the cat market as one element of the business informs on all others,” says Chris. “One-stop-shop. All things cat.”