Bow Wow Bungalow
Leaving a family business to launch into the world of pet resorts was one of the best decisions Paul Berkovitz ever made. Visiting his daughter in Florida, the California native couldn’t help noticing how many apartment dwellers had dogs living in their apartments. That piqued his interest. “I thought, ‘there has to be a better life for dogs than being cooped up in apartments all day’.” He bought a pet resort franchise which he owned for 10 years. But his next venture was the real winner.
Seeing an opportunity to buy another doggy daycare in California, Paul took advantage of it. He spent a short time freshening up his new business and improving it. “I wanted to enhance the customer experience,” he explains. “A customer wants easy drop off, easy pick up, and the confidence that their doggy family member is at a clean, well-run organization.”
Just six months later, the business became profitable. But in 2020, covid hit. Like many other pet resorts, Paul’s business was considered essential so he kept it open to serve essential workers and their pups. But it was a difficult time. “In hindsight, 2020 was a horrible year but it was also a boom because between PPP loans and government incentives we were able to survive, and eventually thrive.”
During July of 2020, Paul and his staff decided to throw a pool party for dogs. “It really resonated with the community because we went from 20 dogs to 120 dogs that day. People just wanted to get out and about, and the dogs had missed their facility, known as the ‘disneyland for dogs’. It really was a fun and amazing place for dogs.”
The business continued to grow with revenues well over $1 million. Paul’s success didn’t go unnoticed. His phone was ringing with potential buyers asking monthly if he was interested in selling. He wasn’t interested in selling. However, by this time, Paul was following Teija Heikkila of Pet Vet.
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“I had met her and her staff at a pet expo at Burbank, CA in 2018, I talked with them because as a business owner, your business is always for sale. I hired Teija to do an evaluation of my business to make sure I was doing everything correctly to build value into my business. Out of that evaluation, I also engaged Laura Laaman and got some cool ideas to stay ahead of the curve in the pet care industry. I poised my business to be well run so that when the day came to sell it, it would bring value.”
He attended many of Teija’s webinars to stay informed.
“One webinar stuck out: ‘Now is a good time to sell your pet care business.’ In that webinar, she spoke about it being a great time to sell, and three or four points about current market conditions really hit home. I called her shortly after the webinar to discuss the possibility of selling my pet resort. I had no need to sell, no urgency to sell and I wouldn’t have sold to just anyone. Teija and her team are extremely professional. Her team came out and took some gorgeous photos and did a great write up on my business. So, we listed it and then Teija shortly after came to me with an offer just weeks later. It was a really good offer from, what turned out to be, a really great company.”
Like many deals, the due diligence had its challenges. Assignment of leases and assets, inventory, informing staff, etc. require skillful problem-solving. Teija kept the parties negotiating and the deal closed within six months.
Having sold has enabled Paul to retire and pursue his other passion - flying his amateur built RV-10 airplane. He often flies for an organization called Pilots N Paws, transporting dogs from shelters to their “furever” homes. He tries to fly a Pilot N Paws mission often. “It is the most gratifying flying you’ll ever do as a pilot.”
To prospective sellers, Paul advises: “Understand that the due diligence process is challenging, but an experienced broker is invaluable as they guide you through, every step of the way.”