“If your heart isn’t in your project,
the project isn’t going to succeed.”
Roger Caras once said, “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”
Dog owners everywhere wholeheartedly agree that there’s nothing quite like coming home after a long day to be greeted with hap-hazard, knock-you-over tail wags and slobbery, you’re-finally-home kisses. Dogs become our companions, our confidants and…and well, they become our best friends. There have even been studies that suggest that dog owners tend to look like their dogs. Now to be completely honest, that’s not exactly good news for the owners of a wrinkly shar pei or a frowning and somewhat grumpy-looking bulldog. Nonetheless, dogs become part of the family.
And just like you wouldn’t take your human-form loved ones to just any care facility or salon, you wouldn’t take Spot and Princess to a shabby, hole-in-the-wall either. And that’s exactly what Andy Wiltz was counting on when he purchased Woof’s Play & Stay in Kansas City.
Andy grew up in Kansas and had always aspired to someday be his own boss. Growing up with in a family of entrepreneurs, Andy knew entrepreneurship was in his blood. He double majored in entrepreneurship and real estate finance at Baylor, and after graduation accepted a position with the global consulting firm Accenture. He spent more than ten years in the Change Management / Strategy practice, initially in the Accenture New York City office, then South Africa, the Philippines and finally back in the US.
In November 2014 Andy received a stellar annual review, but he realized it was time to be his own boss. Andy had been consistently contributing to a savings account with the ultimate goal of either starting his own business or buying an existing business. He decided to purchase the assets of a business that was closing and continue the operations under his own name. Enter Woof’s Play & Stay.
Woof’s Play & Stay is a family-owned doggy daycare, dog boarding and dog grooming facility. The website states,
As dog lovers, our commitment is to your dog’s health, well being and happiness.
We take pride in the trust you place in us to care for your friend, companion,
and beloved family member.
Andy and his team get it. They really get it. They get that it is completely acceptable and not weird at all for a dog owner to have two-sided conversations with Spot or to dress Princess up in ridiculously, over-priced accessories or to ask for a “doggy” bag and literally mean it. They just get it.
Going from a global consulting firm to a doggy daycare wasn’t easy, but Andy quickly realized that a willingness to get out of one’s comfort zone is one of the biggest contributing factors to ultimate success. He learned that doing something new and unfamiliar is always an opportunity to learn.
Andy started off by setting goals. His initial goal for Woof’s Play & Stay was to simply maintain the revenue the previous owners experienced, with the expectation of a modest growth. But he soon realized that there was actually a lot of room for growth in the company. So, Andy expanded the goals and set more extreme weekly and monthly goals. For Andy, the process of setting and meeting goals is never complete. It’s always an ongoing process.
One critical component to meeting those extreme goals was having the right team in place. Andy inherited a staff when he purchased Woof’s Play & Stay and he worked tirelessly to train each team member to do the best possible job he/she could do. His philosophy is he would much rather help develop someone to do a better job than to have to let someone go. Andy’s methods have paid off since he’s experienced very little turnover.
There are also a few regulations that Andy has to abide by. Every state regulates dog daycare and boarding facilities differently. For Kansas, he had to acquire a license to run the facility and he has to adhere to common-sense measures to ensure the safety of the dogs.
But the real challenge isn’t at the state level. It’s at the federal level. Andy is concerned that the federal push to increase minimum wage will hurt his business, as well as other local small businesses. Andy doesn’t currently pay his team minimum wage, but instead gives raises when he can. He is concerned that a mandatory increase in minimum wage to $12 or even $15 will wipe out his profits and take away incentives to add additional locations.
For the time being, Andy will continue to spend most of his days greeting customers and dogs at the Woof’s Play & Stay front desk, taking care of office work and making sure that his 22 team members are keeping the doggy guests safe and happy. All it takes is a quick look at the Woof’s Play and Stay Facebook page or Jameson’s dog days of summer video to see that the tail-wagging visitors are quite happy when they visit Woof’s.
Two paws up to Woof’s Play and Stay for doing a dog-gone good job at taking care of man’s best friend.
For more information about Free Enterprise at the Baugh Center, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/freeenterprise/.