Regions Northern Virginia

Franchises expand the boundaries of Dogtopia

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Print this page by Veronica Garabelli

Dogtopia in Tysons Corner grossed more than $1 million in 2004 after only two years of operation. That’s when Amy Nichols started to look into franchising the brand as a way to expand. “It has been quite the journey from then ‘til now,” she says.

In the past nine years, Nichols’ vision has become a reality. Dogtopia now has 27 franchises and four corporate stores, with more on the way. During the next seven years, the company plans to expand to more than 400 locations in the U.S. and Canada. Six locations are currently in development, including ones in Arlington and Alexandria.

Dogtopia’s also looking to add three to four stores in Hampton Roads, Nichols says. Franchises pay Dogtopia a monthly royalty fee of 7 percent of their gross sales plus a marketing fund of up to 2 percent of gross sales. Regional developers receive part of the 7 percent royalty.

Franchise candidates at­­tend a Discovery Day, which are held monthly, in the Washington, D.C., area where they tour stores, spend time with Dogtopia’s franchise team and meet with Nichols. “We don’t look for very specific things, but they have to be open to the idea that what they don’t have, they can hire for,” Nichols says.

Franchisees also must have necessary funding to open the business, Nichols says. Franchisee candidates should expect their investment for a Dogtopia franchise to range from $257,600 to $475,500 for build out, including the franchise fee of $42,500.

Dogtopia is now seeking regional developers to expand the brand in major metropolitan areas, including Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Southern California, Houston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Dallas and South Florida, according to a company news release. Additionally, British Columbia and Alberta are target markets in Canada. 

Dogtopia recently signed an agreement with a regional developer to expand the brand in the San Diego County area of California.  “We focused on California because we have three locations out there, and that was an area where it was tough to get out there,” Nichols says.

Laid out in a similar manner as a children’s daycare facility, Dogtopia has a number of playrooms to suit a dog’s personality and size.

In addition to daycare and boarding, many Dogtopia locations also offer a spa, self-service dog wash and boutique. Clients can even see what their dogs are up to at Dogtopia through an online webcam feed. “People just love that,” Nicols says. “It has been a huge hit and they love having that access.”

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