The success of mobile franchises often depends on the season, an expert says, after mobile dog grooming service HydroDog Australia underwent a rebrand and launched two new businesses.
HydroDog, led by franchise veteran Martin Rose, is a mobile dog grooming and washing service provider, with more than 200 operators Australia-wide.
Prior to HydroDog, Rose spent 15 years as the Victorian franchisor for ice cream chain New Zealand Natural.
Keen to highlight the mobility of the business, HydroDog has undergone a re-launch by giving itself a new name – Blue Wheelers – and launching two new brands.
The two new brands are DogFood Direct, a dog food and treats home delivery service, and wash-only service Dash DogWash.
Jason Gehrke, director of the Franchise Advisory Centre, says mobile franchises are often very seasonal, so prospective franchisees need to think carefully before they enter into an agreement.
“There is seasonality in a lot of different types of businesses and mobile service franchisees are, in some instances, more prone to seasonal variations in demand than retailers in fixed locations,” Gehrke told StartupSmart.
“For example, I would imagine dog washing franchises would be busier in warmer months than winter months because dogs are outdoors more.”
“Any kind of lawn-mowing or gardening maintenance franchises are always busier in spring and summer months than winter and autumn.”
Similarly, retail food franchise Trampoline Gelato recently launched a mobile concept dubbed Trampoline on the Moove, which aims to take advantage of the warmer weather.
“Trampoline’s mobile unit is designed to go where the crowds are – to service festivals, weddings, events or to just turn up and trade at popular roadside locations,” it says on its site.
“The mobile unit follows crowds and trades primarily when the weather is fine.”
Gehrke says franchisees can “overcome” seasonality by diversifying their offer, using dog washing as an example.
“Yes, dog washing franchisees might be kept busy washing dogs in summer, but in winter they might be doing more in regards to grooming,” he says.
“Likewise, in the lawn-mowing and yard care type businesses, franchisees can do other things in winter when frequent lawn-moving isn’t needed.”
With regard to HydroDog, marketing manager Janie Rose says seasonal variations tend to balance out well for the majority of franchisees.
“Whilst some dogs do not get clipped as often during the colder months, they still do require clipping at intervals to keep them from getting matted and uncomfortable,” Rose says.
“We also fit in more washes in the winter months as dogs tend to get muckier in winter from walking in the rain, puddles, etc.”
According to Gehrke, people need to determine from the outset whether they are prepared to enter into a seasonal franchise.
“If the business is to be your primary source of household income, then you really need to plan very carefully for that seasonal variation and demand,” he says.
“Come what may, planning will still need to reflect that seasonal variation in income… If you’re the sole breadwinner for the household, it can make some months a little bit lean.”
“If you have a second income for the household, then obviously that helps balance out the household budget.”