Originally from Connecticut, Marc and Karen Deppe, Owners of Bark Busters Dog Training Treasure Coast, decided four years ago to take their passion for dog training to the next level. Marc, whose entrepreneurial experience extends well beyond Bark Busters, shared the story behind their journey and how their franchise is creating happy owners and obedient pets.
“My background is in mergers and acquisitions and managing real estate portfolios,” Marc said. “Through a series of business ventures, we first moved to South Carolina and then Florida. At one point, before the market crashed, we had 90 single-family homes. We made a lot of money, but also got our butts kicked several times.”
Marc continued, “Going back to 1999, we trained our dogs and others as a hobby. We’d help friends and neighbors and, throughout the years, more people saw what we could do. After running Sales and Marketing for Triton Submarines out of Sebastian, a friend encouraged us to look into a Bark Busters franchise.”
Marc’s friend is the owner of two successful Bark Busters in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Marc joined him for a lesson and couldn’t believe how well and how quickly the dog responded.
“I was blown away,” Marc said. “We looked into the business opportunity and 10 days later, we bought a franchise. In the past, my ‘ego’ would have prevented me from even considering a franchise. I felt like I didn’t need to buy someone else’s system. However, when I saw how awesome the training was, I was immediately on board.”
Marc and Karen spent three weeks training in Canada. After completing the franchise documentation and establishing their business entity, they were ready to start their new adventure. As Marc shared, the entire process has been smooth and rewarding.
“To be honest, this business is one of the easiest businesses I’ve ever run,” he said. “Also, I don’t feel like I go to work. I get to play with dogs for a living. It’s low on stress and high on return. With just Karen and I operating the business, we’ve managed to grow by $100,000 in revenue year over year since we started.”
Marc shared that the keys to his growth have been social media marketing, client referrals and meeting with and forming relationships with veterinarians. His approach is pretty straightforward.
“I show up at veterinarian offices with brochures and offer to provide them with free lunch seminars,” he said. “If after the first class they’re interested in hearing more, we’ll set up more in-depth training.”
When it comes to competition, Marc is quick to point out that Bark Busters is in a league of its own. The Australian based company has been operating in the United States for 25 years. Most franchise owners have been with the company for 20+ years. The system is patented and the training is unmatched. On an individual franchise level, Marc takes great pride in results and happy customers.
“We are militant about supporting our customers,” he said. “We also get results fast. The dogs we work with are typically trained in three to six hours. Our training methods are different than anything else on the market. We’ll get people that have tried five other trainers and we’re always able to help them. We also train our customers on what to do if an aggressive dog comes after them. Every client has a written lifetime guarantee that once we’ve worked together, we’ll always come back for the life of the dog if needed.”
Looking ahead, Marc and Karen are focused on maximizing the return on their efforts. They’ve gradually increased prices over the years and are looking at ways to maintain their revenue while reducing their appointments by 20% - 30%. “I figured out that I’m not so concerned about how much money I make as I am the quality of life and time I have to enjoy it,” Marc said. “The commodity I’m chasing now is time, not money.”
What advice does Marc have for aspiring entrepreneurs? “No one ever hit a home run unless they were swinging for the fences,” he said. “Take risks, but be smart about it. Don’t just jump in without a plan and intelligence. I see a lot people running small businesses like a hobby, not a business. I love what I do and it never feels like work, but I manage everything very carefully. Whether its leads, sales flows or financial records, I’m very fastidious about everything. Lastly, know your numbers, keep your credit in good shape and be prepared to work your tail off.”