Zoom Room Dog Training Franchise


This is an interview with Mark Van Wye, Founder and President of Zoom Room.

Click here to listen to the live podcast recording: https://thefranchiseacademypodcast.com/zoom-room-dog-training-franchise/

Tom Scarda:                  So, I just recently met Mark and he’s interesting. He started a concept called Zoom Room Dog Training. He believes deeply in positive reinforcement for both people and dogs. Mark is in Southern California and he has a son, Meyer, and they have been working with this Zoom Room concept and expanding it through the country. So currently they have nine locations open and they are deeply focused on getting it national. So I want to invite Mark in. Mark, are you there?

Mark Van Wye:             I certainly am.

Tom Scarda:                  Hey, welcome to The Franchise Academy.

Mark Van Wye:             Thank you, Tom.

Tom Scarda:                  It’s so great to have you on and I know we went through a couple of different changes to get here but I’m excited that you could do this. I am so excited about anything having to do with dogs, not to mention I have a dog. I’ve had several dogs and we do a lot of rescues and training … I mean training is everything. So we had a puppy black lab years ago and she had passed in 2012, so it’s years ago, but we got that black lab and man, did she need some training and you guys come to the rescue for people like that because I see so many people, they get a puppy and then all of the sudden they want to give up the puppy because he’s chewing on the couch or in my dog’s case, he was chewing on the wall. So got to get them trained.

Mark Van Wye:             Absolutely.

Tom Scarda:                  So how did you get into dog training?

Mark Van Wye:             I actually came into it through the door of education, training little people. So I had been working with various national organizations, like the Boy & Girls Club of America and the educational wings of Disney and Nintendo, Microsoft, developing large scale national education platforms with an emphasis on teaching people with no prior experience in teaching, how to be expert teachers with young people and when … back then I was married and my ex-wife was an expert in the dog field.

Mark Van Wye:             She was the president of the American Boarding Kennel Association and ran a very successful pet resort out in Los Angeles and she had sort of had this idea that there was some other way to go about this besides day care, besides kennels, that could really scratch the itch for people who were entrepreneurs, who loved dogs, wanted to make money, but really didn’t want to deal with all of the incredible headaches that were befalling the people trying to start those more traditional models and once I heard her pitch, I jumped in both feet, quit my other work and found that the transition from teaching kids to teaching dogs was seamless because it had positive reinforcement in connection.

Tom Scarda:                  Very cool. So I love the tag, something to the effect of, you don’t really train dogs but you train their parents.

Mark Van Wye:             We don’t train dogs, we train the people who love them, which really plays to my strength and to really the core model that we’re doing, which is it’s not a day care, you can’t drop your dog off. It’s not board and train. We invite people to come in and we teach every single pet owner really how to deeply understand and communicate with their dog, to really understand that and that lets the training seamlessly translate to when they go home and as they grow and develop and go into new areas.

Tom Scarda:                  That’s fantastic but in my mind, as a business owner, that translates to less responsibility or liability, am I right about that?

Mark Van Wye:             Oh absolutely. The number of headaches that are involved when it comes to traditional pet businesses, I mean even something like a groomer, you have to be relegated to special zoning and then if the person goes across the street, gets a cup of coffee, comes back and says, my dog’s ear wasn’t like that before, then you’re looking at a lawsuit and so in that model where you’re alone with somebody’s dog, you’re looking at deaths, you’re looking at fights, you’re looking at lawsuits ad it’s incredible pervasive. For us, we have something that gives you great peace of mind, when you turn the lights off at night, the phone doesn’t ring in the middle of the night because there’s no dogs kept there. You don’t have clients complaining about how you’re handling the dogs because they’re handling their own dogs and so we have an incredibly happy, upbeat environment that has a real emphasis on socialization.

Mark Van Wye:             We use socialization both for the dogs because it’s the most important thing for them, even more than the training but also for the people who have a lot in common with each other, a lot of similar questions and really incredible friendships are born out of these classes and the social events.

Tom Scarda:                  It is amazing. The social events blow my mind. I have some friends that own one of these kind of doggy day care things and they have all the headaches. Actually, it took 18 months to find the right location after they signed their franchise agreement, which is a whole other story but I love the fact that you don’t need permits. So you could put this almost anywhere because it really is a destination, right?

Mark Van Wye:             You can put it in any shopping center, you can put it on main street, you could have it next to a restaurant, a karate studio, yogurt store, you name it, Whole Foods, these are some of the places where our stores are right now and so because of the nature of what we are not doing, our zoning is easy. We’re also not having to deal with things like regulations for air intake or for drainage in the floors, all the things that are really a challenge when you’re managing an enormous facility, so it also means our startup costs are much lower, our operating costs are lower, our payroll is a tiny fraction, there’s only a couple people working at a time and so the whole thing is just … fits in your pockets. You can open up a whole bunch of them throughout the town and it’s just … You really get to play with the dogs all day.

Tom Scarda:                  And that is special. I mean I love that idea but at the same time, you could do this as an investment model, is that right? Do you need to be there as the owner?

Mark Van Wye:             We love the idea of a super educated owner, meaning that they can be absentee, semi absentee, but we love the idea that it’s not just sitting in their portfolio but that they’re going to take part in some of our conferences, some of our training, so that when they do go visit their site, they’ll actually have some knowledge and understanding what their manager is doing, what their staff is doing. Our highest grossing store right now is actually a fully managed semi absentee. The owner lives in Hawaii. The store is in Orange County and the store has had so much success that they had the problem of customers being unhappy about the wait list but they got very lucky because the pizza store next door moved and so they were able to take down the wall and now they have a double gym, wait list gone, customers are happy and they’re absolutely thrilled and that is absentee owned.

Tom Scarda:                  Great story. Love that. What would you think is the perfect balance then if I was to invest in this business but I have a full time job and maybe my significant other has a job as well, would you like somebody putting in 5 hours, 10 hours, 20 hours a week? What would be a good balance?

Mark Van Wye:             I don’t think it really matters. I think all that matters is that you make a really great choice in who your designated manager is going to be and that they’re working all the time and that the one thing going on in their life is the success of the store and so your life may change, you may have other investments, other things going on, you come in and out as you need but to have the peace of mind knowing that there is one person there that is moving all the levers, I think that is the only thing that’s really a determining step.

Tom Scarda:                  So I buy the franchise, I invest in this franchise, I get my store, where am I getting employees from? Are they already trained or are they being trained by Zoom Room?

Mark Van Wye:             Great question. So, we provide training for up to two people initially and typically for an owner operator store, that would be for the franchisee herself, then perhaps a business partner or spouse or child. We’ve seen all of those different permutations or they may have already picked somebody else that they want to have come on. After that, once you’ve been doing this for a while, you’re able to use our training methods to actually train your own trainers. So you don’t need to send them to us. There’s no hidden training fees about, you have to keep paying us to do the training for you and finding them is incredibly easy because our big recommendation is don’t hire dog trainers to be your dog trainers.

Mark Van Wye:             Don’t hire dog trainers to work in your store and that may sound somewhat unusually but this is coming from a business who’s motto is, we don’t train dogs, we train the people who love them because the customers are our real clients and because we are creating a lifestyle atmosphere, with an incredibly educated clientele, what you really care about is the sales staff that is upbeat, outgoing, extroverted, energetic, and smart and so the best employees for you are not going to be people who are coming to you form Petco or from a day care, they’re the ones who were an assistant manager at Old Navy, who are working at Williams-Sonoma, who are yoga teachers, Pilates teachers, coaching youth soccer. People who have charisma, people who have energy.

Mark Van Wye:             The dog training part, this is our expertise. There is literally no one else that can train people to be dog trainers as well as we can and we’ve had 100% success with everyone who’s gone through our program and the reviews you can find on Google, Yelp, Facebook, all the usual suspects, kind of speak for themselves. So that’s definitely a question we get is, where do I find these people and the answer is, just look for awesome people that you’d want working in any retail business and let us take care of the dog part.

Tom Scarda:                  That’s great and that kind of makes me feel good as a potential owner because there might be … as you started talking, I’m thinking about this little restaurant that my wife and I go to probably too much but there is a wait staff person there that we love and I would hire that person and say, hey, I’ll get you out of this place or maybe you could work in both places a little bit, but you could … if you love dogs, you could work in my place and play with dogs all day instead of serving greasy hamburgers.

Mark Van Wye:             Definitely and you know, I mean the labor market right now in the US is very different than it’s ever been in the past. Employment is at an incredible high, unemployment at a real low. The quit rate is at the highest it’s ever been and staff turnover, this is not specific to Zoom Room, this is just any business owner in American knows this, and so how do you have a competitive advantage as an employer because now you’re kind of competing with every other business for getting that great server that you just talked about.

Mark Van Wye:             Well, the one way is just throw lots of money but that’s not the best thing for business, so other than throwing money at the problem, what can you do? Well what you can say is what you just said, Tom, you get to play with dogs all day. You really do. You’re not cleaning up after the dogs. The clients clean up themselves, I mean, clean up after their dogs themselves. We train them to do that and we have great little stations to make it simple and easy and so you literally are there for puppy classes and play groups and agility with people running … people and dogs running these obstacle courses, scent classes. It’s a lot of fun and the clientele are people that you’d really want to hang out with because we don’t have all of those boutique things going on, we don’t really appeal to the sort of Beverley Hills model dog owner who carriers their dog around in a purse and treats it like an accessory and dresses it up.

Mark Van Wye:             We like to have fun. We have Halloween parties and stuff like that but at the same time, people come in for the first agility class in heels and they don’t do that again after that. They realize they need to wear sweats and flats or sneakers and they’re going to be running and sweating and getting quite a workout themselves and so as a result, the only people that are coming are people who really really love their dogs and want to be doing that stuff and that is all the millennials, it’s empty nesters, it is everybody who is buying and buying and buying into the multibillion pet industry right now. So business has been good.

Tom Scarda:                  Yeah, what I have been reading about the pet industry, in general, not even as franchising, is just the numbers are going to grow five times what they are today and I also read somewhere and I wish I could find this article, but I read somewhere that Americans are now spending as much or more on their dogs as they are on their human children and if you think back … for me, I’m in my 50s, so when I was a kid, I don’t remember ever seeing dogs dressed up as pumpkins but now, it’s like … it’s almost like peer pressure. You have to do it.

Mark Van Wye:             Yeah, no. There have been some major changes in trends in pet ownership in America and worldwide. The shift to positive reinforcement from correction, incorporating dogs as more of family members, and really caring about what you’re putting in their mouth, caring about where you’re sourcing those toys, where were they manufactures? Do you know if there’s lead in them? And of course dog food, how much transparency is there in the supply chain for the treats, the toys.

Mark Van Wye:             So we also are a retail establishment. We sell a curated collection of made in America toys, treats, training tools, the full spectrum and we take great care in that because we know that is not just a trend. We think that here to stay and we think that many of the major grocery store chains, other businesses and franchises, we’re seeing that incredible care for quality of ingredients and transparency on sort of that third wave. We incorporate that into our business as well and our practices.

Tom Scarda:                  Sure, yeah. Yeah and you’re right, that is not going away. That’s the way of the millennials and obviously they’re young, so this is going to be the way it’s going to be for the next 60 years at least and that’s fantastic. So a little bit more on the business model because I’m really interested in this. So how many square feet are we looking for to put one of these things in? Is it like a 10,000 foot square warehouse?

Mark Van Wye:             No, I’m glad you asked. That would be our competitors. That would be a typical daycare or kennel facility. We have a really small footprint of 3,000 square feet. You could get as small as about 2,800 but 3,000 is perfect. Going anything above that, you’re really just having a lot of wasted space. So really nice small footprint, everything fits right in there, and you know, if you’re trying to picture it, you can certainly see them on our website at zoomroom.com or Facebook, anywhere else there but yeah, it basically looks like an upscale gym.

Tom Scarda:                  Yeah, that is so neat and how many employees would you really have if … your biggest guy you say in Orange County now, your biggest franchisee and how many employees do they have?

Mark Van Wye:             At any given time, there’s two people working but depending on where your market is, you may have people working shift labor and so you may have five, six, seven people on your payroll but the total number of aggregate hours will always be the same, which is just going to be two people working.

Tom Scarda:                  Oh okay and so is it open 12 hours a day, seven days a week?

Mark Van Wye:             Yeah, exactly. A typical store would be something like 10 AM to 9 PM Monday through Friday and 9 AM to 5 PM Saturday and Sunday.

Tom Scarda:                  Oh okay, so you have the weekend hours. Okay.

Mark Van Wye:             Yeah, I mean as you can imagine, evening and weekends tend to be the busiest, the most predictably busy time when people are wanting to come for group classes right after work or over the weekend but then throughout the day, we’ve got private training available, day time group classes. I mean you figure wherever people are going to a yoga or pilates class during the day, they certainly are there in numbers to come to dog training classes.

Tom Scarda:                  Yeah, absolutely and the cool thing about the franchise, like I wouldn’t know, right? If I opened up a business, I just wouldn’t know what the strong times are but being in a franchise, you are able to tell your new owners, hey, look you definitely need to be ready for this time of the day and be ready for this time of the week and whatever might be and that, I think, is something that’s valuable, right?

Mark Van Wye:             Yeah and we’re super data driven company too. So we’re able to give you … I mean I think … I’m obviously sort of preaching the benefit of franchising in general here but whatever your business you’re interested in, if you are just having that one store and that’s the only intel you have, you know what sells well at your store. You know when your customers are showing up and when they’re not. You know what kind of ads are working. You know how much to charge because that’s what’s worked for you but you have no idea what you’re missing out on and for us, we do, I think, an excellent job of providing incredible data tools and intel to all of our franchisees about the products that are selling great elsewhere and about helping them really look under the hood at their numbers and seeing what kind of revenue they’re doing per hour, where they’re peaking, what kind of tweaks they could make, because we have so many different revenue streams that are complimentary with one another, it really allows the franchisee to play to their strengths and to have lots of different variables to move around.

Mark Van Wye:             We have, one of the things I’m most proud of is how much our year over year growth has been in the grosses and the profits of the stores. Even if you take away predictable things like increased attendance. Well of course you do more next year, you have more customers. You’ve been around longer, you’re doing more advertising. If you subtract that out, still by making these subtle changes to pricing models, subtle changes to the scheduling, to all of those little things, it can result in easily double digits of growth on top of it, piled on top of growth from increased attendance.

Tom Scarda:                  That’s so cool and it might be interesting for someone listening to this and not really knowing much about franchising, you’re talking about a dog training franchise, this little 3,000 square foot thing and how sophisticated could it be, really? And then you hear all this data, I mean that’s the strength of a great franchise company-

Mark Van Wye:             It’s not … I mean you know better than I, Tom, because you are a franchise expert. I’m a Zoom Room expert but it’s not every franchise does it but we have some unusual distinctions you wouldn’t expect in dog training. The very first business in the world to use an iPad in business, it was the Zoom Room. We were on lots of national network news. We were the first ones to do that and we’ve been a bellwether in a lot of aspects of technology. We develop our own special software for social media and really stay incredibly tech forward because it’s good for business, it’s smart, it’s proven to work and also our customers are as well and so it helps us speak their language and provide the kind of mobile first tools they need.

Tom Scarda:                  Wow, that’s so cool and that’s what I look for in a great franchise, is exactly that because if you are a mom and pop business, you’re very limited to the knowledge that you could possibly even afford to gain. I always talk about the fact that if you’re just doing direct mail to everybody on the street, you’re wasting a lot of money because if we talk about your concept, not everybody has a dog. So why are you ending them a piece of direct mail? Because they might have a dog.

Mark Van Wye:             Exactly.

Tom Scarda:                  If you’re able to focus directly to who your buying persona is and understanding what their journey is, I mean that’s just an amazing, amazing leg up, if you will.

Mark Van Wye:             Oh absolutely because someone might fancy themselves a great business person and a great dog trainer but are you also a great graphic designer and web designer and copywriter and do you know how to do social media and do you have expertise working in PR and what about in data modeling? What about in purchasing supply side? What about in HR? And so one and down the line. I can list every course they might teach you in business school and it doesn’t exist. There’s no one who has expertise in every single one of those and you’re not going to be able to afford all of those.

Mark Van Wye:             You’re not going to have your own CFO who’s going to help you understand the difference between your cash flow and your profitability and all of that but when you are with us, you have all of that and I’m not saying it’s all me but we have an incredible CFO who’s there to hold your hand, we have an incredible director of ops who’s visiting your store, there for your grand opening, helping you with the nuts and bolts and everything, and you just get a team and a lot of people always ask, what do I get from my royalties and it’s, what don’t you get?

Tom Scarda:                  Love it. That’s so great, Mark. This is so enlightening, even to me.

Mark Van Wye:             Thank you. That’s very flattering coming from you.

Tom Scarda:                  Really cool. So I want to talk a little bit about your background.

Mark Van Wye:             Sure.

Tom Scarda:                  Just for the aspiring entrepreneurs out there, business owners, is there a story that you might be able to share about something that might have been your worst entrepreneurial moment?

Mark Van Wye:             You know, in our early … I can just pick any number of them from when we first started franchising because we knew a lot about business and a lot about dogs, a lot about a lot of stuff but not that much about franchising, per se, when we first … that was a learning curve and so one of our first franchisees was this wonderful couple, they opened a great store, they knew their market, they were lovely, they were smart, and we felt like we knew everything about them. They opened their store and we realized one thing we never asked them or anyone else which is, how much money do you have and where is your money coming from and how are you paying for this business? So, turns out, they financed the entire business on 12 credit cards with 0% initial … you know, one of those special deals that in six months, goes away, and you’re now paying all of that interest on a whole bunch of credit cards and it doesn’t matter how well your business is doing in its first year. That’s the end of the story.

Mark Van Wye:             So that store closed down and it was really sad but it was a learning experience. We realized, oh, we can’t stick our head in the sand. That’s really important because we run this business for dog owners and we say every day, we’re setting them up for success. We do dog agility for puppies, we lower the bar, literally lower the bar, and we are doing all the obstacles so that all of our clients are so happy. We try to set up our franchisees for success but we’re doing them a terrible disservice if we’re saying, yes, this is so much fun. You’re going to love this, you’re going to do great, if they have zero runway, if they have no money, this isn’t for you and I’m sorry … I mean nothing is potentially but that was really hard to lose that because they were a great couple and a lot of humility in realizing how stupid it was not to have dug in.

Tom Scarda:                  And this is why I ask that question on every podcast because there’s so much insight into those kind of lessons learned, if you will, and for those listening now, if you are interesting in what it takes, capital wise, financing, if you go over to YouTube, I’ve got a really neat little type video, it’s only like four minutes long and it’s called the three buckets of money needed to buy a franchise. So, I won’t get into the details now, but being undercapitalized is the number one reason for failure in business, franchised or not. So make sure you cover your three buckets of money, so check that video out if you get a chance.

Tom Scarda:                  Mark, what are you fired up about right now in your business?

Mark Van Wye:             I think growth. I mean opening more locations, the locations we have and the ones to come having so much year over year growth, having this incredibly amazing team. I mentioned a few of the people here. It’s just having that team and going into more areas and then I’ll throw in a shameless plug, I was actually solicited in 2018 to author a new book on puppy training that the publishers are intending to be the new bible called, Puppy Training in 7 Easy Steps that will be out in April and what I did was … my negotiation was, I’ll write it but it’s got to be Zoom Room first. I want Zoom Room dog training in big font, you can put my name really little below it. I’ll write the whole thing for you because I have a lot of expertise but the idea of now having, coming out in April, a to be heavily promoted book on puppy training where we are the authority and the expert, that’s going to be so cool.

Mark Van Wye:             I mean, I don’t mean cool for me but cool for the Zoom Room and for all the stores to have that, to be proud of it, to give it out to the customers, maybe not give out, maybe sell to the customers. We do want to make money and I’m pretty excited. I think that’s going to be a big game changer in getting our name out even further.

Tom Scarda:                  That’s great. So put a tickler in my file and I’ll put one in my file to reconvene in April when that book comes out, we’ll do another little podcast.

Mark Van Wye:             I’d love to.

Tom Scarda:                  I think that would be great and it’s for the good of the dogs, that’s what it’s for.

Mark Van Wye:             It is.

Tom Scarda:                  For sure. So what’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever received?

Mark Van Wye:             I think this kind of straddles the line between business and personal but my mom would always say to me and still does anytime something would be happening, she’d say, are you going to still be upset about this in seven years? And if the answer is yes, okay, rally the wagons but if not, there’s really no need for a big reaction and I feel like that has helped me as the CEO govern with a smooth and even a keel as I possibly can muster and has kept me really always forward looking to the big picture. I’m a very long term big picture guy and that’s what all my past business experience has been in is scaling things up and looking at the long view and that very … I mean I take her words figuratively but literally too. So when there is an issue, I always give it that seven year test and it has saved me, I don’t know how many upset stomachs and headaches.

Tom Scarda:                  That’s great and I’m going to use that. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard it put that way, so I’m going to take that for myself. Thank you. What’s one myth about your industry that you’d like to bust right here, right now?

Mark Van Wye:             I think we alluded to it before but the myth that’s always been around is that you can open a traditional pet business, people go about it like opening a kennel or something like that saying, I’m going to make money and I’m going to play with dogs all day and I can’t speak to the money part because there are lots of very successful businesses in the pet space but the playing with dogs, I think until we came along, that is something that there is a long line of people who learned the hard way that when you have to have a 10,000 square foot facility and it takes you so long to get the zoning and you’re only able to afford employing 30, 40 people that are 19, 20 years old and aren’t taking care of the dogs the way you would like to if you were literally doing it yourself, that people quickly sour of that and realize that it is a much darker, darker world than they had anticipated. So I think that the idea that you can do just a pet supply store or a kennel and really see yourself as the epicenter of the dog world is a myth and I think that’s really is what led to the birth of the Zoom Room.

Tom Scarda:                  Yeah, amen to that and that goes for really almost any subject that is somebody’s hobby or passion. I always tell people, don’t follow your hobby into business because you’ll end up hating that hobby. So if you could marry something like this, I mean a lot of people are passionate about dogs, you have to go about it in the right way with eyes wide open, otherwise you end up in a really bad place financially. You can’t just play with dogs all day long, maybe you could do it on Saturdays but you can’t do it every day in business.

Mark Van Wye:             Oh yeah, we have had people on candidate calls say, hey, in my Zoom Room could I add grooming too and oh, could we have … we have some older people, could they drop off their dogs and we’ll train it for them? I’m like, okay, so if you did that, you’re working backwards, you’re undoing everything that we figured out. Once you do that, where are you going to put the dogs when they’re not actively there? In some sort of … they’ll be like, oh in a crate. Okay, so you’ve just built a kennel into your Zoom Room but now you signed a lease saying you’re not boarding dogs and now you’re going to have to be rezoned and now you’re going to need more stuff and now your payroll goes up and you end up … they basically circled back and invented the business that we were trying to find a cure to and another way to approach.

Tom Scarda:                  Isn’t it so funny. That is a great story and I have a similar experience myself when I was a new franchisee for a smoothie concept, I found this really cool stuffed kind of monkey and I wanted to sell these things because people loved this monkey, it looked so real, and I went to the CEO of the company and I’ll never forget, I pitched this whole thing and I sent them a monkey in the mail and he’s like, this is great. I love it but we’re going to have monkey inventory problems. We don’t want that, Tom. That’s all he had to say was like, oh yeah, you’re right. I’m sorry. It’s like, hey, I got this great McDonald’s but I’m going to sell fish tacos instead.

Mark Van Wye:             Exactly.

Tom Scarda:                  So that’s awesome, just love that. I wanted to also get into a little bit about maybe an ah-ha moment for you. Is there anything you can point to that you do that led to your success so far?

Mark Van Wye:             I think for me it was, we have a store in Virginia Beach and not terribly long after they first opened, they were wiped off the map by Hurricane Matthew and it was a tragedy and should have been and for the whole region was suffering, but the most amazing thing happened. The day of the hurricane, their clients, their client’s children, showed up at the Zoom Room in Virginia Beach with pumps, with squeegees and helped them bail the whole thing out. Right after the storm died down, their clients and several other local businesses came together, started a crowdfund, raised money for them and it took them less than six weeks, they had rebuilt the entire store, were back open, and hit the ground running and I just was sort of blown away because I think I’m a nice person, I think I’m not a jerk, but if that happened to some business I loved near here, I think I probably would donate my money to the Red Cross, not to my local favorite dog place or ice cream place or gym or something and I was like, what’s wrong with me?

Mark Van Wye:             And then I realized that that’s I think what, besides training people to be dog trainers, what we’ve done is so hard for any brand is to really win hearts and minds, to create something that people genuinely love because when they love it, and I mean love it, I don’t mean like it, it means they are very, very, very likely to recommend you to their friends and to their family member and to be shouting your name from the rooftops on social media or just literally on the street, at dog parks, when people ask, oh my god, your dog is amazing and they say, well I go to this place, the Zoom Room.

Mark Van Wye:             So we had started tracking, early on, a metric that I don’t think a lot of people know, it’s called the NPS score. It stands for net promoter score and there was a poll of Fortune 100 CEOs and it was listed top as the business statistic that they cared about the most and it really is a very simple number to understand. It measures the willingness of your customers to recommend you and the reason I think CEOs like them and myself as well love it is because it doesn’t just tell you how much money am I making today, it predicts the future because you could see hover boards and make a ton of money but if they all catch on fire, no one’s ever going to buy them in the future. You’re going to be stuck with warehouses full of inventory.

Mark Van Wye:             You may end up, in the end, going bankrupt and losing all of your money but if everybody loves you and it’s love, so it’s only like someone scoring you a 9 or a 10, minus all of the detractors and even the people who are iffy get subtracted, you get that and the Zoom Room had always scored like an Apple or an Amazon. I mean really, really, really high but it was just a number I was proud of and it was when that happened in Virginia Beach after Hurricane Matthew that I went, that’s what a high NPS score looks like. I get it now and I don’t think I’d ever felt more proud of the Zoom Room as that moment.

Tom Scarda:                  Yeah, that’s fantastic. That is great and yeah, that net promoter score is really important and a lot of franchises are tracking that now to get really good stuff. Can you recommend an internet source that you like? An internet resource?

Mark Van Wye:             I mean, this is more very specific to pet. I think if someone is listening to this podcast who’s really interested in the pet space, not just franchising more broadly, on our own website, we’ve put together a white paper on the pet services industry that is … it’s almost all the numbers you find about the pet industry, all the billions. It’s mostly veterinary bills and dog food but all the other stuff, like day care, grooming, training, that is left out of most of the mainstream news you see. So we’ve put together a white paper on the pet services industry today, right in the main … It’s at the top of our franchising section of the Zoom Room website and it’s heavily cited, so it’s not like us saying stuff in our own words but I think it’s a great one stop shop to really dive deep into what’s going on today. This is extremely current, 2019, 2018 research on millennials, on spending patterns, specific to America, specific to the pet services, not dog food, not vet, and it’s a great education. Whatever path you follow from this on your own or in franchising, I think that’s definitely a great resource.

Tom Scarda:                  So this is a great segue to, what is your website?

Mark Van Wye:             Zoomroom.com.

Tom Scarda:                  Well that’s pretty easy, so it’s Z as in zebra, right?

Mark Van Wye:             Yeah. Zoom Room.

Tom Scarda:                  Zoomroom.com. That’s awesome. Any good books lately that you’ve read?

Mark Van Wye:             I have to say Puppy Training in 7 Easy Steps comes out in April. What do you want me to say, Tom?

Tom Scarda:                  Love it. Okay, we’ll go with that for sure. So I will end with, Mark, this question, any parting piece of guidance that you could give to the listeners? And again, the best way to connect with you and the website.

Mark Van Wye:             Yeah, take all the stuff you’re seeing online, whether it’s on your computer, print it out, put it on your kitchen table, have your friends over, your family, whatever you end up deciding to do, whether it’s Zoom Room, another franchise, something else entirely, you’re going to have successes, you’re going to have challenges, and your family and friends are really going to be the ones who are going to be your ultimate support network. Not your franchise or I mean, we’re great but we’re not your friends and family. We would love to be your friends and your family, to be thought of that way, but it’s not the same and they’re the ones who are really going to be there for you and I think that it’s so important, even if your significant other has a job and isn’t going to be materially involved, you’re going to want their support and so really, really talk about all of your ideas, share it with your kids, with your neighbors, your best friend. Let them know everything you’re thinking about and I think it’s just such an important support network and something you should never take for granted.

Tom Scarda:                  Yeah, that is great and I think … I always say to folks, when you’re thinking about a franchise, I really want to have you and your spouse on the phone, let’s talk it out and even if they’re not going to be involved, you don’t want to do it to them but you want to do it with them.

Mark Van Wye:             No, because that night, they’re going to ask you a million questions, so better for them to hear the answers from the horse’s mouth.

Tom Scarda:                  Right, right, and no matter what you come back to your spouse with in regard to the franchise concept that you love, they’re always going to say, how did you come up with that and why not the other thing? Why not Subway? I mean that’s what you’ll hear and so you want to get them educated and people might have different ideas that you may not have thought about pertaining to the concepts and it’s great to get that info, bring it back to the franchise and validate it and say, hey, what do you think about this? Whatever it may be. So great piece of advice there, Mark. Again, the website is zoomroom.com, is that right?

Mark Van Wye:             Absolutely.

Tom Scarda:                  And if you need to contact Mark, you could reach me at tom@thefranchiseacademy.com and I will put you directly in touch with Mark if you have questions about anything pertaining to what we talked about on this podcast. So I appreciate you being on with me, Mark. This was great, just a great concept and congratulations on your success so far and all that’s to come.

Mark Van Wye:             Thank you so much, Tom. It’s been an absolute pleasure.

Tom Scarda:                  Absolutely and we’ll talk to you soon. Thank you.


About the author, Thomas Scarda

Tom Scarda hosts The Franchise Academy Podcast show on iTunes and is the author of three books: the number 1 bestseller Franchise Savvy: 6 Strategies Pros Use to Pick a Top Performing Franchise, The Road to Franchise Freedom and The Magic of Choosing Uncertainty. A self-made small business expert and Certified Franchise Expert, Tom has owned and operated both franchised and non-franchised businesses.

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