Chris Rowland, CEO of Pet Supplies Plus
CEO Chris Rowland joined Pet Supplies Plus in November 2012 as senior vice president ofoperations. Chris is a pet lover like everyone on our Pet Supplies Plus team,and he believes that the strength of our brand is in the consistent, qualityexperience that our customers have in their neighbourhood store. Chris isa seasoned pet industry veteran having pawed his way up the corporate ladder atPetSmart from 1996 to 2011. During the last four years he was president ofPetSmart Canada, vice president of U.S. operations, services, and led the company’slaunch into Puerto Rico. While president of PetSmart Canada, Chris and histurnaround team transformed a struggling regional chain into the largest andmost profitable pet specialty retailer in Canada. As vice president U.S.operations, Chris directed a team responsible for new business innovation andthe development and execution of strategies to maximize sales, profits, safetyand the customer experience in over 1200 stores with $7 billion in sales. Chriswas credited with implementing new labor managementsoftware that improved execution and leveraged budgets. In his services role,Chris was accountable for a $700 million business that included grooming,training, boarding and adoptions. He was hailed for doubling sales over athree-year period, expanding the PetsHotel business from one to 120 locationsand reducing expenses 20% by leveraging growth, process improvements andemploying pay-for-performance measures. Chris earned a degree in businessadministration, management and internal relations from the University ofWestern Ontario, in London, Ontario, Canada.He agreed to sit and answer ourpet-friendly questions.
Tell usabout the Pet Supplies Plus concept.
In 1988 grocery industry veterans Jack Berry and HarryShallop pioneered the concept of bringing supermarket style retailing to thepet supply industry. Today, PSP is America’s #1 pet supply franchise with morethan 302 stores in 24 states.
Just as pets are loyal to their owners, pet owners are loyal to PSP for our widevariety of quality pet foods, pampering products, grooming services and theloving animal expertise that we provide. Click here to see our People Don't Own Pets, Pets OwnPeople video.
Why didyou join PSP?
I’ve always enjoyed the petindustry and respected the PSP model. I believe there is a big opportunity toaggressively and successfully expand the PSP neighborhood brand through franchising.
What aresome of the advantages in being a PSP franchise owner?
PSP offers franchisees the opportunity to enter into thelucrative pet supply retail business without having to go it alone. We’recelebrating our 26th year with continued growth. Our support teamhas hundreds of years of combined pet and franchising experience. Our businessis fun, simple to operate, very resilient and rewarding. Our research reports that our average shopper has morehousehold pets than our competitors, which is more attractive to the bottomline. In fact, the averagestore sales for a franchise-owned PSP is $2.5 MM per year. We also offerthese Pet Supplies PLUSES:
- Single,multi-unit and absentee-ownership programs are available.
- 65% ofour franchisees are multi-unit owners.
- The petsupply industry is more than $58 billion dollars strong.
- Petsrule in 68% of U.S. households.
- Evenduring the economic downturn pet owners spent 6.5% more on their pets. That'swhy we're more than 100% certain our pet supply business will continue torecord consistent year-over-year growth.
Who is your ideal franchisee?
An ideal PSP franchisee must embrace with ourcompany’s mission and culture. Successful franchise owners have strong valuesand share these traits: hard working, fair, honest, caring and they enjoyhaving fun. We look for candidates who have retail experience, exceptional customerservice skills, and possibly food service, banking, or other service-basedindustry experience. We also believe a prospective franchisee should want to invest in our PSP franchiseopportunity to take control of their future, for self-development and personalfulfillment, financial diversification and to experience the lifestyle rewards.
Tell us aboutthe PSP market?
We know that people don’t ownpets; pets own people. That’s why we offer the largest assortment of naturalfoods. But, of course, people are the gatekeepers and that’s why you’ll findour stores in convenient locations and our products and services priced at agreat value for pet lovers on fixed budgets to the more affluent buyers.
What isyour real estate strategy?
Our strategyis to out-position the big-box competition and to locate our stores in what wedescribe as neighborhood, daily-needs centers, convenient to where customerstypically shop. Our stores are adjacent to higher-end food markets andother convenience-based retail shops. The flexibility of our retail footprintgives us the ability to take advantage of 2nd or 3rdgeneration retail space, ranging in size from 5,000 to 10,000 sq. feet. Throughthe smaller scale of the stores, we provide superior customer engagement whencompared to the large box competition. You could say that PSP is the AceHardware of the pet supply industry. We’re America’s favorite neighborhood petstore.
What aresome of the greatest lessons you’ve learned in growing this franchise?
We are very transparent with ourfranchisees. We may not always agree, but if we are all focused on what ourneighbors want, then we’ll all be rewarded in the end. Another PLUS is that with170 corporate stores, we are able to test new products, merchandising programs,promotion plans and other strategies in our corporate stores before we rollthem out to our franchise owners.
Do youhave a mentor and is there someone you use for inspiration?
I have a strong work ethic andbelieve in empowering my team, which I get from my parents. I’m especially fortunate to have access to agroup of senior advisors, in all disciplines, from our private equity partnerat Irving Place Capital.
Whatadvice do you have for someone considering your PSP franchise?
Opening any business involvesrisk, so my advice is to first and always do your homework. If you follow ourproven system and are a motivated franchisee, your passion for the businesswill ultimately determine your success.
Finalquestion, in your opinion, why do you think PSP is a great opportunity forsomeone?
We’re in a fun industry that’s stableand rewarding. People continue to pamper their pets and except for theoccasional finicky cat and hermit crab, pets want more and more. Satisfyingthat demand in a local neighborhood concept that saves our neighbors time andmoney, while connecting on an emotional level, is a winning combination. In theend, we help people spoil their pets.