SUCCESS STORY

Chris Masson

All American Pet Resorts

Chris Masson

It’s a full circle moment when you realize the reason you got into a business venture is the same as the reason you got out of it. For Chris Masson, owner of an All American Pet Resorts franchise for 11 years, that reason came down to one priority – family.

“I was a district manager for a paint company. I was doing a fair amount of travel, and I had no passion for that industry,” Chris said. “I've always wanted to own my own business. And I didn’t want to be traveling [because] we wanted to start a family.”

Chris and his wife Megan didn’t have kids yet when he started looking for possible business opportunities. “We wanted to do something family oriented, where the kids could come up on days off from school and be involved,” he said. They now have 12-year-old twin boys and a daughter who is seven. The kids are involved in sports and Chris is their coach when he’s able.

He was also volunteering at that time with Leader Dogs for the Blind, a nonprofit that aims to help every person who is blind or visually impaired be able to travel safely and independently. “I thought it would be nice to be able to mix the two passions [of owning a business and a love for dogs],” he said.

Chris knew he wanted to take the franchise route and looked at several options. They had taken their own dog to All American and liked that it was high-end. It was a young company with only a few locations, so there was a lot of autonomy at first, which he also liked. Chris said he wanted a quick learning curve, since people’s pets were involved, and the franchise status helped him in securing a lender.

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In 2012, the Massons bought a building and opened their new location of All American Pet Resorts. “It was such a great business. It was extremely profitable and was easy to sell, as far as someone having an interest in it,” he said.

In hindsight, Chris thinks the franchise was the right way to go originally but probably wouldn’t choose that path if he had it to do over again. “I didn’t want a cookie cutter type of thing. I really wanted to manage the business and make business decisions,” he said.

The Masson family appreciated the freedom and flexibility they found in their ownership role, but it was also a 24/7 responsibility that never let up. “It was kind of a joke in our house, of how long a stretch can we go when someone doesn't call out or when there's not an issue at night?” he said.

ABOUT THE BUSINESS

  • Location: Rochester Hills, MI
  • Purchased franchise in 2012
  • Owned for 11 years
  • Services provided: Boarding, daycare
  • 1 building, 11,100 SF on 1.3 acres
  • 80 enclosures with 100+ dog capacity
  • 20+ full and part time staff

“Since 2020, the whole landscape has changed, from sensitivity of owners, to challenges with workforce [such as] lack of effort and a lot softer work ethic,” Chris said. “I can’t stand negativity. It’s just not what I wanted to surround myself with. So I had to find a solution.”

He was having to run the business side and manage the daily operations of the pet resort at the same time, which was very challenging. “That also drove me to make a change because I was in attendance at all the things I wanted to be at, but I wasn’t truly present.”

In August of 2023, Chris met with his CPA to run the numbers to determine whether a possible sale was realistic. They agreed that it was, and Chris already had a buyer in mind. She was a fellow franchisee who was ready to take on a second location. “It was a perfect fit. I left knowing the business was in good hands … She knew the franchise. She knew the policies and procedures – she knew everything.”

Around the same time, he reached out to Teija Heikkilä of PET|VET M&A, Sales & Advisory. Since he already had a buyer lined up, Teija’s network of attorneys, accountants and lenders proved to be the most valuable in his case.

“I knew I was going to go with Teija because I had been following her for a couple of years,” Chris said. “Knowing that she was the number one with selling kennels … I just knew that she was the person I wanted to work with. There's a lot of stuff that's involved. Why risk messing that up?”

“It would have taken us easily twice as long without her. She got me in touch with the right people. Unfortunately, we had to get attorneys involved, and there was some negotiating. She was honest with me,” said Chris. Her breadth of experience also gave him a lot of confidence. “We weren’t just guessing.”

Many details needed to be considered in a sale like his, and Chris said he never questioned his decision to work with Teija and her team. Her advice on setting up the lease of his property got him into a good position for some passive income, and she was able to help the buyer secure lending through one of her industry contacts. “Without Teija, it would have been very difficult to find lending to get this deal through,” he said.

As far as what’s next for Chris and his family, he is thankful to be able to take some time figuring that out. “I’m really just kind of trying to get my ducks in a row as far as what options I might have,” he said.

He acknowledges that their boys will be out of high school in six years and doesn’t regret his decision to sell. “That’s not a lot of time. You can’t get that back,” he said. “When I explain that to people, no one has said, ‘Man, that's dumb. You had a really good business.’ No one has said that.”

Chris has some criteria to meet with his next venture. He’s considered real estate, or another type of small business, as long as it doesn’t require having a lot of employees. “I don't feel any urgency to it, which is awesome. I still don't think I'm really decompressed from owning that business for 11 years.”