Central Bark Franchise Owner Turns Passion for Pet Care Into Thriving Business

Matt Sander, Central Bark Franchise Owner in Sussex, WI, Since 2017

When Matt Sander and his fiance were planning their wedding, they needed to find quality pet care for their two rescue dogs. Like most pet owners, they didn’t want to leave their beloved pets in the care of any “run-of-the-mill” pet care system. They wanted the best. That’s when they first encountered the Central Bark franchise system and would later return to the franchise as potential franchise owners. In this article, Matt shares the story of his journey to franchise ownership and how he leveraged the Central Bark franchise opportunity to become a successful business owner.

Why did you purchase a franchise rather than opening an independent business?

I have always been driven to become my own boss. Choosing to Franchise instead of opening an independent business was the right decision because it provided a support system, networking opportunities with like-minded folks, and the tools and resources necessary to be successful from the start.

Did you have your sights set on a specific industry or brand?

Yes. My wife and I are passionate about animals and volunteer work at dog rescues and shelters. That shaped our path to ownership in the Pet Industry. That, combined with our business experience in the Financial Service sector and Automotive industry, gave us the confidence to pursue business ownership. 

We were first introduced to Central Bark during our wedding weekend while seeking care for our two beloved rescue pitties, Zeus and Tank. Naturally, when we started our search to open a business, we reflected on our exceptional experience with Central Bark.

Which of your prior skills and experiences was most helpful in launching and operating your Central Bark Franchise?

I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to wear many hats in my working career. The skills I’ve learned that translated well into business ownership include leadership, analytical problem-solving, and strategic thinking, as well as past customer service experience at Mercedes Benz.

When researching franchises to buy, what criteria or data points mattered to you most?

While seeking a franchise to purchase, it was critically important for me that the consumer (dog) was held in the highest regard and that standards were in place across the system. I reviewed training opportunities offered within the Franchise, including at launch and throughout the life of franchise ownership. This franchise’s commitment to education, training, and development was vital.

Did you speak with other Central Bark franchise owners?  

I relied heavily on interactions with existing owners and their corporate teams. Our decision to proceed with Central Bark was a direct result of positive feedback and stories shared by existing franchise owners. We were very focused on learning about the culture at Central Bark, the system support provided, and franchisees’ stories of successful ownership.

Which questions did you ask the franchisor?

In speaking with the Franchisor, I asked about their brand, mission, and values and how they ensured they were effectively in place across stores. I asked about ongoing training opportunities and how the system keeps up with industry changes.

What are you most proud of as a Central Bark franchise owner, and why?

central bark franchise owner matt sander

Outside of my family, I am most proud of the growth my business has experienced over the past seven years. In 2021 we made a significant investment to transform a vacant property. The original building structure had been vacant since 2014 and required ingenuity and heavy lifting to retrofit the space. Both site functionality and aesthetics were considered early in the design phase to prompt visual enhancement to the area while also permitting our small business the opportunity to expand and enhance our service offerings. Through local support, we could transform the space into the whole dog care facility of our dreams! This also allowed us to receive the Community Improvement Award.

What were your biggest challenges when you first started, and how did you overcome them?

We purchased our first location from an existing owner who was preparing to retire from the industry. During the transition of ownership, we were challenged with adding our own personal touch to the business while honoring the brand and maintaining transparency and trust with the current customers. The best course of action was for me to be present at the business full-time, allowing me to interact directly with our customer base and team to understand their wants and needs further. While being present in the day-to-day, I remodeled our space and built unique relationships with our exceptional customers and team. Now fast forward several years, I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to celebrate many milestones with our Central Bark family.

How does the Central Bark franchise support and encourage your success?

Central Bark encourages collaboration and innovation across locations through meetings, online communications, and annual conventions. The open dialogue with the franchisor and franchisee network equipped us with a wide array of business-related insights. The tremendous support we received during times of change (the pandemic, for example) allowed us to be agile and successfully pivot business strategies.

We enjoy working alongside a great network of individuals who strive to provide a variety of superior services continuously and set the standard for excellence in canine care.

What advice would you give to new or potential franchise buyers?

Boots on the ground.” We attribute much of our business success and continued growth to being integrated within our local community through sponsoring local events, providing various raffle baskets and donations to rescues, hiring locals, and providing awareness of our business and service offerings to other local businesses.

For more information on the Central Bark franchise opportunity CentralBarkFranchising.com