Groom to grow: animal grooming is more than a pet project for a former HR executive

Groom to grow: animal grooming is more than a pet project for a former HR executiveWHEN KERRI EVANS TRANSITIONED from corporate lifer to entrepreneur, she literally went to the dogs. Evans, 40, investigated several small businesses before enlisting the help of a franchise broker that led her to Aussie Pet Mobile. Upon discovering the mobile pet-grooming service, the former HR executive was immediately sold. "When we initially started talking about Aussie Pet Mobile, I thought it was a very interesting concept and a viable business," she explains.

Talk about jumping in with both feet: After conducting her due diligence, Evans refinanced her house to secure roughly $250,000 to purchase the highest level of ownership, buying six territories and one trailer. She opened for business a year ago and has been thriving ever since. Sales for July 2004 exceeded $18,000, and she has consistently achieved 14 to 20 percent monthly growth since opening.

Evans has purchased three additional territories and currently employs a staff of four groomers and one dispatcher. Multiunit owners like Evans don't groom animals, but instead manage the business. During the day, you'll probably find her developing business relationships with organizations like the Humane Society of Silicon Valley or managing and organizing daily operations. "My job for the groomers is to clear all the hurdles for them to go out and be able to do their jobs," she says.

Staffing, ironically, was the biggest concern coming into the business for the former recruiter, who has found that her HR background has come in handy. She has never lost an employee and believes her hiring and employment policies are largely responsible for her high staff-retention rates.

Evans plans to grow the business to nine to 12 trailers within the next several years and is proud of reaching her goal of becoming a business owner. She's also quick to state that her success wasn't by chance. "I don't believe in luck," she says. "I believe in myself."