Ashcroft Pet Resort
Beginning with the end in mind helped to set up businesswoman and entrepreneur, Robin Schoh for pet resort success - twice!
“Exit strategies are critically important,” she says. “The decisions you make – buying the business, establishing processes, deciding about plans for growth, planning a tax strategy – are all crucial for getting the most out of your efforts when it’s time to retire. You work your whole life to get to that stage, so you want to do it right.”
She attributes the successful sale of not just one but two pet resort businesses to this philosophy, and also to the expertise of Teija Heikkilä, founder of PET|VET M&A, Sales & Advisory.
Robin grew up as a farm kid in Iowa, where she developed a love for animals early in life. With the support of a great family, she became a competitive athlete in three sports, learning the values of teamwork, grit, determination, and vision. The lessons in how to handle wins, success, loss and defeat, would play an important role in her future endeavors as a business owner.
When it came time for college, Robin went to Colorado State University in Fort Collins. She earned a Masters in exercise physiology, then spent 14 years in the healthcare industry. She was recruited to help develop a community outreach and health promotion program, which became its own department and later expanded across a four-hospital system. Taking a non-existent entity and growing it into a successful program for helping people is where Robin’s love for being an entrepreneur began.
In 2001, she left the healthcare business due to corporate downsizing and finished her second Master’s degree, this time in business administration. That same year, Robin transitioned out of healthcare into animal care when she took out a loan and bought her first pet resort in Aurora, Colorado in 2002. She thought it would be a great way to combine her business mindset, community outreach and ongoing love for animals.
Simultaneously, a business partner and friend asked Robin to help develop a concept for a body and facial waxing salon. When they opened the first location in Denver, people laughed because they didn’t get the connection between animal care and hair removal. But to Robin it was clear - the same business principles apply in any service industry. The business thrived and in 2012, was sold to a franchise incubator. They kept five salons as franchise locations. Robin stayed on as Vice President of Sales and juggled the salons along with her growing pet resort.
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Around 2014, the workload became too much, so Robin decided to sell the pet resort. “Selling a business isn’t easy,” she said. “There are a lot of nuances to it. I had grown my businesses into a size that really necessitated a professional to help me with that sale.”
She discovered PET|VET M&A, Sales & Advisory online and reached out to Teija. “I knew from the questions she was asking that she knew the industry inside and out.'' She credits Teija’s expertise in brokering a successful deal, in which her business sold for three times its purchase price.
Over the next couple of years, Robin found that being back in the corporate world in her franchise sales role wasn’t making her happy. In addition to dealing with a health crisis that forced her to slow down, she was disillusioned by the corporate tendency to focus on profits over people and wanted to return to the small business world. She was again looking for an exit strategy, this time out of the corporate life, so she reconnected with Teija.
As it turned out, Teija had a pet resort for sale on 2 ½ acres in Fort Collins called Ashcroft Pet Resort. It needed new vision and was an excellent fit for Robin’s skills and experience. They both saw the potential for growth, so PET|VET brokered the purchase in 2016. Robin ran it for six years, always with an exit strategy in mind, this time for moving toward retirement. When the time came to sell Ashcroft, once again the team at PET|VET was instrumental in helping Robin sell for three times what she paid for it. With the sale, she retired from daily operations, paid off debt and purchased the land, becoming the landlord to the consolidator who was now the pet resort’s new owner.
The Ashcroft property made a great addition to Robin’s real estate portfolio, which she has been building for 30 years. With her real estate investments and business success, Robin is now enjoying retirement.
She looks back at her career with gratitude for everyone who played a role. “Part of success is surrounding yourself with smart, business minded people,” Robin says. “Teija is definitely one of those. She’s been a key part of this whole evolution in the pet resort business for me.”
With plenty of time to travel and pursue her current sporting interests of diving, cycling and golf, Robin is happy with her new lifestyle and no longer has the need for an exit strategy.