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Small animal care business to launch franchise

A NEW animal care business has mapped out its long-term future following a collaboration with Strathclyde University students and is also planning to launch a major franchising platform this year.

Furry Friends Hotel, which provides boarding accommodation and care for small animals such as guinea pigs and rabbits when owners are away, worked with a five-strong team from the university over a period of more than three months towards the end of last year.

The business said the input from the students had helped it develop a more robust financial model, enhanced efficiencies, improved processes and given it a range of outcomes for the next five years.

Now the company, which celebrates its first birthday in April, is also starting to implement some of the other recommendations the students suggested.

Mike Molyneux, co-founder, said the project had delivered "great value" into the business.

He said: "The students wanted to work with real local businesses to feed real data into five-year cashflow software they have developed. That is an elaborate spreadsheet but very well created and a very useful tool.

"We have been able to speed things up such as planning and business processes. The students also brought some really good ideas to the table.

"Things like using electronic databases a little bit more than we would have done otherwise and increasing the social marketing of the business.

"So they have been able to add value quite significantly in that respect."

The five Strathclyde students who took part in the Furry Friends project were Craig Vernall, Christie Riggs, Natalie Sutherland, Hannah Jordan and Callan Barr.

Mr Molyneux said the business was on course to launch an online portal this year, which would rapidly expand its potential reach.

At the moment it can only handle up to 30 small animals at any one time at its Bishopbriggs premises.

However Mr Molyneux has lofty ambitions and suggests he wants Furry Friends to be seen as the animal equivalent of global accommodation provider Airbnb, which lists properties in more than 34,000 cities.

He said: "There is a real trend towards the humanisation of pet care. People want their pets to be really well looked after in a home-from-home environment.

"There is only so many pets we can look after and we are frequently at capacity.

"That is why we are creating an online platform that will facilitate a way to put us in contact with hundreds of other pet lovers interested in taking on small animals such as cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters and would like to offer that [care] within their own homes."

Furry Friends is also a member at Entrepreneurial Spark in Glasgow.

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