Small Business and Franchise Success Stories

Mark Schottland, Owner
Mark Schottland of Nashville, Tenn. always knew he wanted to own his own business.

After working for years in the financial services industry, getting married and completing graduate school, the time was right. But he needed a smart way to preserve spending capital for his new Dogtopia franchise. That's when he turned to Guidant.

"The [iFinance] program was smart, elegant, and Guidant led me through every step of the way. It couldn't have been any easier. Looking back, it was the smartest business decision we made. Because we used retirement dollars to help fund construction, we had savings to use as operating capital instead of taking a larger loan."

So, why pet care?

"Dogs shake up your life in the most wonderful ways. Their faces are pure joy when they see you walk through the door. They are always SO happy to see you, and it is hilarious to see which possession was chewed up while they waited for you. In my old career, I couldn't have a dog because I traveled so much. I guess we kind of went overboard. Because we take care of people's 'children,' I think we have a much more meaningful interaction with our clients than a typical service. My wife and I marveled at how we have deeper relationships with our clients at Dogtopia than we ever did with our financial services clients. Obviously, some things matter more than money. Other great perks are: no suits, no shaving and no travel."

This business also makes the case for doing something you lovejust eight months after opening their doors, Dogtopia turned a profit. Since then, they were voted Nashville's Best Daycare/Boarding Facility. He attributes their success to a variety of factors: the franchise domain name, the education, the clients, the location, the Web presence and the customer service.

"Our employees go far above and beyond what we require. One of our clients was deployed for an extended period. While the owner was gone, the house sitting plans for the dog fell apart. Our employee stepped in and the dog is now living with her until the owner returns. That is the kind of effort that makes our business so easy to manage."

He also notes the difference of environments from corporate to small business:

"I was not a big fan of the corporate anxiety filled world. Accidents and inefficiencies happen in business as in life. In small business, you learn quickly that wasting time assigning blame often costs more than the original mistake. Sometimes, things just go wrong and you have to help people understand why and how to improve. Each member of your team responds to different approaches, and you have to learn what motivates them personally. The most enjoyable moments in this job come from learning and teaching how to do better the next time."

Now that he's a business owner, Schottland finds that he can enjoy his hobbies and activities that he didn't have time for when he was in the corporate world.

"[My wife and I] spend a great deal of our free time with our two huskies. One of which failed his evaluation and is not allowed to come to our own daycare. Go figure."

For more on Dogtopia, click here.


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