Former fashion Industry veteran, Jane, brings The Cat Butler’s premium cat sitting services to the areas of Radlett, Bushey, Borehamwood, Watford, Abbots Langley, Kings Langley & Rickmansworth.
In a complete career change, South African-born Jane is leaving behind a 36yr career in the fashion industry working for international brands such as M&S, to run her own The Cat Butler franchise, and is looking forward to bringing her high standards to her new business to Radlett and the surrounding areas in Hertfordshire.
What did life look like for you before you joined The Cat Butler?
Jane: I have been in retail for 36 years which is a very exciting career, always changing but also very challenging. The fashion world is relentless and you are committed to long hours, and lots of travel which to many people appears exciting but it is extremely hard work. You get to work with very talented teams and is very satisfying when you see the customer enjoying the products you create and the sales come in.
The retail world has however changed significantly in recent years and I felt my time in that world was complete and needed to diversify into doing something different and wanted to start my own business. My experience within the retail sector would add value to my own business as I understand the importance of Brand integrity, outstanding customer service and communication.
I was coming towards the end of a two-year contract and was asking myself if, at 57 and after years of moving all over the world for my job, I really wanted to dive back into the world of fashion or did I want to do something completely different. One of my last jobs was working in a £500m turnover a year company with 70 staff reporting directly to me which can be quite full on, so I felt I needed a change.
A chance mention on Radio 2’s Zoe Ball breakfast show from someone who had just done their ‘two cat visits for the day’ gave me a lightbulb moment and I thought ‘I could do that!’ When I googled ‘cat care in Radlett’, The Cat Butler came up and I saw it had franchise opportunities.
What was it about The Cat Butler that appealed to you?
Jane: When I made the decision to change careers, I wanted to own my business and grow it. Being a cat owner myself and knowing the feeling of anxiety when you have to decide who will look after your cats, opening a professional cat-sitting business was my go-to. The Cat Butler came up on my Google search and I saw the franchise opportunity.
I did huge amounts of research into The Cat Butler franchise, even before contacting the owner and founder, Sandra James. I am a stickler for good grammar and, of course, presentation. I went through the website with a fine-toothed comb, checking to see if all the links worked and if it was written properly. If you are going to invest in a business, much like a garment, it is important it is well made on the inside and look great from the outside too.
After meeting Sandra and understanding the business model I realised it was the right fit for me to start my business. I did all my due diligence and eventually, 6 months later launched The Cat Butler Radlett. They give you all the tools to start a business. Eventually we will have a team of Cat Butlers who will be looking after the cats within my franchise area. The Cat Butler is a premier service and we give outstanding VALUE for money in what we do.
All the research I did into The Cat Butler told me it was a good franchise to invest in and so far nothing I’ve seen has changed my mind. The moment I saw Sandra had a brand bible I knew she took this very seriously. Obviously, in fashion the brand is everything and I was happy to be working with someone who had invested so much time and money into it and took it so seriously
Why cat sitting?
Jane: I am a cat lover and have two of my own – 9 year-old George and Sophia who are my world. Every time I travelled for the retail job, I had to find a solution for someone to look after my fur babies. I didn’t want them to necessarily go into a cattery but unfortunately when I first got them, I had no choice and was lucky enough to find an amazing cattery in Johannesburg where I lived at the time.
My cats, nine-year-old George and Sophie, are my complete world, and I totally understand how stressful it can be for cats and their owners when they want to go away for a weekend or on holiday. I’ve tried everything and know that my cats are happiest when being looked after in their own home, so I’m really looking forward to providing that premium, in-home visiting service I would want for my two. But this is not just cat sitting, this is owning a business which offers clients professional and exceptional service knowing their cats are looked after, loved and happy.
What support did you receive from the franchisor when you launched your new business?
Jane: Sandra has been incredibly supportive from day one and made it a very slick and easy process to join the Cat Butler. I have just completed my training and feel very confident to launch my new business. Sandra has built a terrific brand and everything I have seen of it has really impressed me, from the operations manual to the business software and all the marketing materials including flyers, business cards, welcome home cards, and even sympathy cards for when a feline customer crosses The Rainbow Bridge. She has thought about absolutely everything. The website is fantastic too and takes a weight off my shoulders knowing it has all been done for me. I really am super impressed.
What does the future hold?
Jane: I’m going to spend a few months getting comfortable running my business, then think about taking on staff in some outlying areas. After all, you can’t know how to run a good business unless you’ve spent plenty of time on the shop floor.
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